Nintendo trying to change its “locked gate” image, reach out to indies

Tuesday, 10th September 2013 08:23 GMT By Dave Cook

Nintendo is keen to tear down preconceptions that it’s a monolithic entity in the gaming industry by embracing modern ideals and reach out to indies, according to Dan Adelman and Damon Baker.

Gamespot posed to the pair that Nintendo has existed as something of a “Willy Wonka’s factory” that plays by its own rules and is quite guarded, to which Adelman replied, “I think that’s something we’re guilty of rather than something we want to boast about. And that’s something that we’re actually trying to change. We kind of historically have presented ourselves as very–what’s the right word–monolithic is probably not the vibe I’m going for. But it’s a very uniform company. Like ‘this is the company’s stance.’

“We have Mr. Iwata [and] Mr. Miyamoto explaining the company’s philosophy on issues. And I think more and more we’re realizing we need to make sure that everyone understands that there are actual people who work at Nintendo and we’re accessible and we can be reached and contacted. So I think we’re trying to do a better job at that outreach and breaking down this idea that there’s something behind those locked gates and no one can see what it is.”

When asked if this is posing the company challenges when entering discussions with developers, Baker added, “One thing that we’re addressing right now is expectations. Similar to what Dan was saying before, it’s a matter of doing a bit more education on our part of what those guidelines are and how it’s easier than ever before to be making games for Nintendo platforms.

“And just giving as much visibility to those initiatives as possible. So that, to me, is a barrier because I think some developers look at Nintendo and there is this iron gate in order to get content through and we just want people to know…that it’s really, we’re trying to make it as easy as possible and it’s easier than ever before to bring that content over.”

The site followed up by asking if developers have – so far – responded well to Nintendo’s efforts to tear down barriers and better communicate its stance on indie development and routes to its platforms. Adelman replied, “Developers seem to be overwhelmingly positive. Some of the major changes that we’ve made actually still haven’t been well communicated yet. We’ve put the message out there and I think we have to keep hammering home the message because we need to make sure that people hear about it.

“We used to have a lot of barriers on the way to releasing games on our platforms. One example would be, we used to require that developers work out of an office that’s separate from their home, and that was a big barrier for a lot of indie developers. And we got rid of that. And still, I talk to developers today who will say, “Yeah, I’d love to make a game for a Nintendo platform, but I work at home.” So I have to say “Actually, about six months ago, maybe it was nine months ago, we announced that we changed that policy.

“Or Unity is another good example. We did a deal with Unity where you don’t have to pay any platform fees or pay for the tools. And for people who haven’t heard of that, most people will go in under the assumption that in order to release their Unity game on console, you have to pay usually I think it’s tens of thousands of dollars per platform, and when I tell them ‘No, we’ve actually covered that for you’ they’re like ‘Oh, well, great.’

“Or there’s this expectation that dev kits are a lot more expensive than they are. In reality, they’re about the cost of a decent PC. So people are surprised at that. So I think as much as…we’ve already made all these announcements and people are aware of it, there’s still a lot more work that we need to do to make sure that everyone’s aware of how we operate.”

Do you feel Nintendo is making a visible effort to induct more indies into its fold, or is there still much work to be done. It certainly seems – judging by the indie games on the horizon and mentioned at times in Nintendo Direct feeds – that the company is at least aware that its image needs changed.

What’s your view?



  1. Joe Musashi


    Do you feel Nintendo is making a visible effort to induct more indies into its fold

    Yes. I think this was apparent with the Unity announcement before the launch of the Wii-U and the continued efforts and promotion of the e-shop.

    or is there still much work to be done.

    In this area? I think they are doing ok. But I don’t think “openness to indies” is the highest priority issue at present.

    It certainly seems – judging by the indie games on the horizon and mentioned at times in Nintendo Direct feeds – that the company is at least aware that its image needs changed.

    This is encouraging. And image doesn’t change overnight. And, of course, you only want to address the negative perceptions whilst leaving the positives intact.

    However, the industry the company inhabits is in constant flux. Making small changes at a slow pace could end up being a wasted effort.


    #1 1 year ago
  2. The_Red

    “However, the industry the company inhabits is in constant flux. Making small changes at a slow pace could end up being a wasted effort.”

    So true. Nintendo’s home console business was dying by the end of GameCube era. Wii didn’t become a success because of Mario, Zelda or Nintendo fans. It became a phenomena thanks to radical changes in the console design and really different games like Wii Sports.

    In other words, Nintendo needs another super bold move rather than playing it safe. Turning 3DS into 2DS, Super Mario 3D World and the whole existence of Wii U are the definitions of “safe” so I don’t think they are on the right track. That said, super happy about their indie push.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. dizzygear

    I could not care less about indies on Nintendo consoles. Most of them are also available on Steam for allot cheaper anyway.
    What is the damn hype about indies lately anyway?

    I rather wish they’d do something about that other locked gate called a Region Lock on their consoles.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Clupula

    @2 – I’m not sure appealing to soccer moms and ignoring the hardcore gamer was really a brave move. It was definitely a financially beneficial one, but not one that took balls, or anything. If anything, it was short-sighted, because that trick only ever works once, and never in the long term. It actually tends to hurt your reputation.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. AngryConsumer

    if they want to change the ‘locked gate’ image they can start with their fucking digital stuff they sell, and not locking it to the hardware, but the user account instead. but no the muppets at nintendo force you as a customer to send in your broken wiiu to them in japan. then they will unlock the digital content you have bought. after that you can buy a new wiiu, and YET again lock your digital content. the idiocy is big, its 2013 but nintendo is still stuck in 90′s.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. pcbros

    @4 – In their defense, they weren’t trying to appeal ONLY to soccer moms. The goal was to appeal to EVERYONE.

    Nintendo themselves released a good mix of games for the Wii. For gamers we had games like: Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, Zelda Twilight Princess, Zelda Skyward Sword, Smash Bros Brawl and Donkey Kong. For casual gamers: Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Wario and Wii Resort.

    The problem was most 3rd-party developers wanted a piece of that casual gaming pie and released a lot of games, that in the eyes of gamers, were lacking. Second, the hardware was a dated, so developers couldn’t just port their games over. The bad news was that we missed out on ports of excellent 3rd-party games, the good is that the games we got were usually unique to the Wii (although usually of poor quality).

    The Wii U has the same problem. Except that since the PS3 and Xbox 360 still have a few good years in them, the Wii U will continue to get ports of those great games (ex. Batman Arkham Origins and Splinter Cell Blacklist). Also, Nintendo will continue to release their highly rated games. And now they are trying to reach out to indies.

    So I think all in all, the Wii U isn’t doing that bad. The initial price ($350) was definitely too high for a Nintendo console. Hopefully the price cut and Nintendo’s holiday line-up helps them out.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. lookingglass

    Indies will not save you Nintendo. Indies are barely more than a fad and they run complementary to AAA titles. Indies fill the void while waiting for the next real game.

    Nintendo needs to understand that it IS competing with MS and Sony, whether it wants to or not. The average person has only one console. If they have more, there is always a favorite and most game purchases will be on that platform.

    The two strategies that can save Nintendo.

    Partner with Apple. Get all the virtual console games on iOS. At $5-10 per game, Nintendo would sell hundreds of millions in the first year.

    Drop a new console in 2-4 years. Make it $400 and make it 50-100% more powerful than the PS4. Embrace third party devs by giving them a console on par with the generation. Release it close enough to PS4 and XBO that it looms over their heads for most of their expected lifetimes.

    Nintendo is trying to walk the fence with hardcore gamers and pure casuals. It needs to make a choice. Casuals? Team with Apple, get rich. Gamers? Take the risk and be the comeback kid of next gen.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. TheWulf

    In honesty, what they’re doing to pave the way for indies without demanding exclusivity is the thing that’s put WiiU on my radar as the only possible console I’d own this generation.

    If only they’d actually be ballsy enough to go truly open platform with their next console, they’d draw in an entirely new audience, and possibly do out Sony and Microsoft in the process. I can’t see them doing that, but still, they do seem a bit more open minded than Sony and Microsoft are.

    I mean, consider a console where you can sell games from your website without having to go through Nintendo at all, or a console where the filesystem is completely accessible, meaning that you can have mods for all of your games. That’s a game changer, right there. That would truly create a new generation of consoles unlike any we’d seen before.

    It’s a shame that no one’s trying to do that, yet. I like the ways in which Nintendo is thinking, though. At least it is a tiny bit more progressive than Microsoft and Sony.

    The problem with consoles really is that their closed platform nature makes them feel like horribly outdated monoliths, like something the RIAA would make. You know, consoles as they are feel not unlike paying a ridiculous premium to listen to music on a physical medium that you can do nothing with. Opposed to paying a tiny fee to download it to a computer or similar device where you can not only listen to the music, but remix it and play around with it, too.

    Yes, there are arguments for physical media, but not very many actually good ones.

    The approach of consoles feels ancient to me due to their closed nature, not unlike records. I’m just waiting for consoles to catch up. The first open platform console will be the one I embrace as my console of choice. And there really needs to be one, because it’ll be like introducing record buyers and listeners to the world of music files.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. TheWulf


    They can do both if they want. The PC has been doing that for decades now, quite happily, and giving a quantity of shits that amounts to zero about it. This notion that a console needs to be LOCKED IN to anything is absolutely ridiculous, and so old fashioned.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. TheWulf


    They make genuinely good and interesting games, rather than just being the same old tripe repeated over and over?

    Take a look at Gone Home and Shelter, and try to find a console game that’s remotely like either of them. Maybe people, like me, are just feeling tired of phoned in mainstream trash. The stuff artificially put together over three developers or more, just so it can be a yearly franchise, where the developers don’t even play their games, and make games solely for focus testing groups dictated by marketing rather than anything else.

    The old empire is slowly tumbling, just as it did with music. The times are changing. Indies are growing in popularity because they’re making games which the developers want to play, rather than games which are dictated by marketing types to appeal to focus testing groups.

    In essence, most indie games or games which aren’t designed that way are really enjoyable. I often find myself spending more time with the underdog these days — the small or indie devs. And I find myself drawn to games which represent more exotic, novel, and/or fun elements.

    It’s funny though. I mean, the mainstream audience has been so programmed tojust consume and consume artificially produced entertainment pate that they don’t know what to make of anything that’s genuinely fun any more. They want realism, they want forced immersion, they want obsessive-compulsive gameplay (mostly of the operant conditioning chamber model). I hate to say this, but people can be such bloody sheep. And sheep with really poor taste.

    When you give them something outside of that, they freak out. Saints Row IV is a lovely example, as you’d think that would do well in the mainstream being a triple-A title, right? Nope! It’s not a gangland shooter any more, it’s a little higher-brow and just a bit more clever, and its subject matter is just a little more odd. It was met with fear and hatred because of that.

    If you ask a mainstream player what they want, often it’s the same game they played last night, over and over again, with minor differences. Massive franchises like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and so on.

    The hype, I think, is that more and more people are becoming sick of this with their growing awareness and self awareness. They’re realising that this artificially produced entertainment pate, as soulless and passionless as it is, isn’t actually any fun. I think the mainstream market is slowly shrinking and the empire is falling, much the same as what’s happening with WoW (what with that being a similar mess of obsessive-compulsive elements, rather than anything actually worthwhile). And the market for those providing interesting and novel experiences, unlike that which has come before them, is growing.

    So if you’re wondering about the hype? That’s the source of the hype.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. TheWulf


    Couldn’t agree more with all of that.

    #11 1 year ago

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