Nintendo faced usability issues and stiff competition with WiiWare and DSiWare, but a few developers still had significant successes on the platforms. And the future looks even brighter, considering the early successes with the 3DS eShop and the positive outlook for Wii U's eShop.
Rodriguez believes the eShop demonstrates a total turnaround for Nintendo's digital fortunes. Nicalis plans to release an updated version of Cave Story for the 3DS eShop, along with a version of its WiiWare and PC title Night Sky.
"The eShop, I feel, has really turned things around for Nintendo on the digital side because the storefront is heavily feature-driven," he said.
Collin van Ginkel of Two Tribes also believes Nintendo has made big leaps forward in the past year and a half, especially between the old shops and new eShop.
"Much has been said about WiiWare and DSiWare, but basically what irks me the most is that [Nintendo] never updated WiiWare based on player and developer feedback," van Ginkel tells Gamasutra. "You can already see that the 3DS eShop is being developed much more actively, and I hope they will continue that for Wii U's online store as well."
Neuse expressed enthusiasm for the Wii U digital storefront. Gaijin Games plans to release Runner 2 near the console's launch, says Neuse. "We have something special with Runner 2... We actually have a multiplatform engine in-house that was possible to make the game for multiple consoles. ... We thought we should hit every market that we can."
He also adds that Nintendo is a great partner to work with on its digital platforms. "Dan Adelman at Nintendo is a champ," Neuse says. "He's reaching out to a lot of indies."
Renegade Kid's Mutant Mudds
Jools Watsham, founder of Renegade Kid, echoes Neuse's sentiments. The developer has created Mutant Mudds and Bomb Monkey for the 3DS eShop, with plans for more titles in the future.
"I think many people think Nintendo is very difficult to work with," Watsham says. "My experience working with them has been great. If I have questions or need something, I contact them and get what I need. And, if they need something from me, they do the same."
The great partnership also gives Watsham hope that Nintendo's digital storefronts can be a major part of Renegade Kid's success in the near future.
"If there are enough people actively purchasing games on the eShop, we might have a chance to rely solely on the eShop as a business model, enabling us to continue developing original content without the constraints typically brought upon us by the broken retail business model," Watsham says. "That would be amazingly awesome."
While the 3DS eShop evolves with retail downloads later this month and the recent introduction of game sales, Nintendo still hasn't pulled back the curtain on Wii U's eShop.
Neuse said developers are mainly still in the dark as well but admits there are some positive-sounding rumors that he hopes come true. For example, there are whispers of developers and publishers having control over running sales of their titles, which would be a major departure from Nintendo's stance with WiiWare and DSiWare.
Enhanced functionality is a boon, but ultimately developers seem enthusiastic because Nintendo is finally throwing major support behind its digital platforms.
"A new powerful platform, a new controller and a Nintendo that's excited about having a digital shop on it," van Ginkel says. "What else could we ask for!"