During this past GDC Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aime, told Gamasutra that the company wasn’t looking to “do business” with the garage developers of the world. Essentially, anybody who doesn’t consider themselves a full time game developer, either by choice or because they need another job to make money and support themselves.
For those of you unsure about just what a “garage” developer is, just take a look at Apple’s App Store, pick a game, and it was probably made by said type of developer. Essentially these are the kinds of people we love here at DIYGamer. Developers who make games in their spare time because they have the desire to create something.
When releasing this quote, many took Mr. Fils-Aime’s quote as a slight against indie developers. Perhaps Nintendo, in all their arrogance from being the market leaders in both the handheld and console space over the past few years had acquired a certain sort of hubris that left Sony humbled this console cycle. I honestly can’t comment on that. What I can say, however, is that as much as Nintendo doesn’t want garage developers, garage developers don’t need Nintendo.
Nintendo has never been indie friendly. It’s expensive (for an indie) to develop a game on their system and in order to even be allowed a dev kit for their systems you need to be a recognized business with an official office space (no “garages” indeed). But for all that, even if you do set out to be an indie Nintendo developer, of which there are some, Nintendo simply isn’t a great place to sell your game.
WiiWare, DSiWare, “3DSiWare.” Each of Nintendo’s downloadable distribution channels are notoriously bad for everybody but the most popular games and even then they pale in comparison to the likes of an XBLA or PSN title in sales volume. World of Goo, as an example, was a game that was simultaneously released onto Nintendo’s WiiWare and PC. It should come as no surprise that, even despite the game’s cutesy design (a must have for Nintendo success) the PC version still sold far better. We won’t even begin to discuss the game’s recent success on the iPad because that would really make Nintendo look bad.
I’m not writing this because I’m angry at Nintendo for abandoning developers we know and love, nor am I trying to warn indie developers off from pursuing a relationship with Nintendo. All I’m saying is that despite what Nintendo wants or doesn’t want for their development platform, the fact remains that indie developers simply don’t need Nintendo. They offer nothing to the vast development community that isn’t better served elsewhere.