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

Tuesday, 10 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?

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