Nintendo may be having a bit of difficulty courting major third-party publishers for their Wii U console, but if comments from this past Saturday’s Full Indie Summit are any indication, a lack of third-party support may soon be a thing of the past. During the event, which took place in Vancouver, Nintendo of America’s manager of business development Dan Adelman took center stage to discuss Nintendo’s new policies in regards to supporting Indie Game developers.
Not too long ago, specifically during the advent of WiiWare, Nintendo had some rather archaic and, frankly, moronic, policies in place. Indie developers described the experience of creating for the WiiWare “miserable”, due to the lack of promotion (allowing developers a single 144×90 image with which to accompany the product’s description) and limited file size restrictions (a game could not exceed 40MB.) Additionally, further restrictions originally stated that Indie developers would have to have a proper, licensed office and would not be paid until a minimum sales threshold was exceeded.
With that in mind, it’s not hard to imagine why Indie devs aren’t exactly cuddling up to “The Big N” when it comes to Wii U support. But, if Adelman’s words ring true, all of that is about to change. While there isn’t a video embed or full transcription provided as of yet, Jon Wahlgren of Nintendo Life did a thorough job of recounting the event via Twitter. Here’s a brief overview of some of the changes in policy Nintendo has enacted:
From now on, when it comes to eShop downloads, there are no concept approvals. Adelman said that Nintendo is not interested in regulating what developers do with their games. This includes peripheral support, so developers are not forced to incorporate Gamepad or motion-controlled functionality if it doesn’t seem applicable. Adelman also mentioned that Nintendo doesn’t consider there to be a difference between developers and publishers, in regards to a game’s status. This means that whether the title comes from a AAA studio or Indie developer, the game will receive the exact same treatment within the eShop. Basically, all games are equal.
Some other benefits for developers include: No hidden fees, a facilitated update/patch process, competitive revenue sharing, and the ability for developers to set their own price and release date for their games. On top of that, Nintendo isn’t even interested in exclusivity for the title. Adelman even went so far as to say that the whole “who-gets-what-first” argument is “childish”. On the more technical side of things, the Wii U supports HTML5 and Java for prototyping, and Nintendo will even cover the charge for a Unity Pro 4 license, so use of the engine is free. Those interested in finding out more about the Nintendo Web Framework and Unity engine are encouraged to visit here to get started.
In addition, Nintendo has done away with all of those old policies that Indie devs struggled to cope with mentioned above. Now, there is only one basic requirement in order to create a game for the eShop: Developers must have business entity status, which in the US can be obtained for under $200. Of course, what Adelman didn’t mention is that you’ll also need a Wii U development kit, at least for those who do plan on making use of any of the Wii U’s unique functionality, and those are rumored to cost upwards of $5,000. Luckily, in a continued effort to mend bridges with developers, Nintendo is rumored to be giving away dev kits for free to any developers who show interest.
Sounds to me like Nintendo is really putting forth some effort here, and so long as they make good on these promises, I believe a little praise is in order. Indie developers are on the rise this generation, and will continue to flourish next-generation as folks get tired of the sequelitis that currently ravages the industry and minds of AAA publishers. Both Sony and Nintendo have extended a friendly hand towards Indie devs, now all that’s left is to hear from Microsoft; who may have been even less fun to work with than Nintendo this past generation. Hopefully, they’ll extend an olive branch as well.
What do you folks think about this? Are you happy to see Nintendo make development easier for Indie creators? Or would you rather they consolidate their efforts on wrangling the larger publishers and developers into bringing more support for the Wii U? Share your thoughts in the comments section.