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The brick wall: No close encounters with Nintendo's indie exec
The brick wall: No close encounters with Nintendo's indie exec
April 25, 2014 | By Brandon Sheffield

April 25, 2014 | By Brandon Sheffield
More: Console/PC, Indie

Originally published April 2014, just a few months prior to Adelman's departure from Nintendo.

What are the tastes, backgrounds and experience of some of the biggest decision-makers at major console companies? Developer and senior contributor Brandon Sheffield attempts to speak to Nintendo's Dan Adelman, but he's stonewalled -- and instead, examines the company's challenges. Read the interview with PlayStation's Adam Boyes here and Microsoft's Chris Charla here.

Those of you who have been following this series will know it was meant to introduce you to the heads of all three platform holders' indie initiatives, getting into some of their personal quirks, so you might better understand how to relate to them.

And it would have, if Nintendo's corporate policy hadn't gotten in the way. Dan Adelman, the head of Nintendo's indie initiative, was not allowed to speak with us. This is the sort of corporate policy that perpetuates the stereotype that Nintendo doesn't work well with third parties, and is an emblem of Nintendo's reluctance to change and become more open as markets shift. As an indie developer, this is very troubling to me.

I'll admit, this series of interviews is pretty fluffy. I'm giving each platform head a venue to humanize themselves, which is ultimately glorified PR. But at the same time, it's useful for indie developers to know who they're dealing with, and to know that there are actual humans working behind the scenes -- humans that you could get a beer with and talk to about a wide range of subjects.

I think that's actually a really useful thing for all parties, because the more everyone understands each other, the more indies will feel at ease working with consoles, which means more games on the major platforms. It's certainly useful for me, as an independent developer myself, to know these people better.

I have to call out the fluffiness of this series here, because that's what makes it so unfortunate that Nintendo chose not to be included. This interview could do nothing but help the cause, and all it would have taken was 30 minutes of Dan Adelman's time.

I don't blame Adelman. I know him, and I know this is the kind of thing he would like to do. It wasn't his decision. It's Nintendo's policy not to privilege the individual. It's Nintendo's policy to keep messaging corporate, not personal. These policies originate all the way up in the Japanese office, as staff members continually tell me, but this approach is not the way of things today, and it shows how far behind Nintendo is in terms of its relationship with third party developers, and how it operates as a company: keeping everyone in check, rather than letting innovation and new ideas lead, as its executives keep saying they want to. It shows how far the company still has to go to prove to indies that we should be putting our games on its platform.

Wii Who?

Let's talk first about the climate Nintendo is in right now. The 3DS is doing rather well, but sales are trending down for the platform yearly. The Wii U is in much worse shape, by all accounts. It's difficult to get accurate Wii U sales numbers, since Nintendo has largely been touting units shipped, rather than sold, but estimates put it at around 6 million consoles. The Wii U is currently tracking at just over 50 percent of the Gamecube's sales for the same sales period.

Now, Nintendo may well pick up speed, but it's not going to happen overnight, and it's not going to happen magically, and it's not going to happen without help. Mario has been a guaranteed system-mover for decades, but Nintendo's already released Super Mario 3D World, and it didn't give the Wii U the boost it needed.

If Nintendo's own killer software isn't moving units, what's missing? Third parties, of course. EA has distanced itself, and Ubisoft has taken steps back from the console. Wii U's limited audience and limited growth isn't a very pleasing proposition for the big guys. So wouldn't it make sense for Nintendo to be courting indies a little harder? Wouldn't it make sense for Nintendo to want to put its "indie guy" front and center?

You see, Sony and Microsoft are both funding indie games right now, and they're making a lot of noise about it. They're putting indies up on stage with them at every show, pushing them into the limelight. When you read articles about who "won" E3 2013, the answer was resoundingly Sony -- the company's image was reassuringly human, and player- and developer-friendly, in part because of its huge indie push. I'll admit it: When I saw all those indies up on Sony's stage, many of whom are my friends, I thought, "Hey -- I could be up there some day. That is a realistic thing that could happen to me some day." It sounds cheesy, but I had never really considered that before.

It's reasonable to say, "Well, funding 50 indies doesn't make Sony nearly as much as one Call of Duty makes Activision." And that's true! But look at what Minecraft has done for Xbox 360. The game sold 12 million copies on the platform, as of April 2014. That's millions of dollars in Microsoft's pocket.

And it's not just a money thing, either. Sony has gotten massive goodwill for its support of indies. A game like Journey, even if it doesn't make a dollar of your investment, is one of the biggest PR boons you can have. Flower was in the Smithsonian museum. You can't buy that kind of publicity -- unless you fund it, that is. A lot of smaller games are being funded for less than your average marketing budget, and the positive buzz you get from that kind of story is worth much more than some banner ads on a web site.

And in terms of public developer support, well, consider my tiny games. When I released my first game for PlayStation Mobile, Sony gave me blog space on the front page of Microsoft's Chris Charla frequently blogs about the games he has been playing, or is looking forward to, and gave an unreleased game of mine a shout-out on the Major Nelson podcast. I'm relating this to my own games because they're quite small, and Sony and Microsoft have still found ways to talk about them. Their people are there to support developers; they're not kept away in hiding.

And it's not like Microsoft and Sony just do this for me. They do it for many developers they support. They're very vocal about what you can do with their platforms, the fact they'll fund good projects, and the ways in which they'll try to put indies into the forefront.

So then we get around to Nintendo. Aside from Renegade Kid and 2D Boy, It's difficult to think of many other indie developers Nintendo has put into the limelight. It is also not funding indies, or if it is, it's incredibly quiet about it. Its lead home platform isn't selling that well, so it's a bit more of a risk. Most developers I've spoken with don't know Dan Adelman, but most do know Adam Boyes. That is a big problem.

Prove it to me!

The majority of indies I've talked to that made games on Nintendo platforms did so because they simply love Nintendo. They played NES games when they were growing up, and having one of their titles on a Nintendo platform is a bit of a dream come true. But then the reality hits, and they have to make money, and then they port those games away to other platforms.

I decided to speak with two eShop developers and one publisher to get some actual numbers. A developer of a 3D action game sold 1,000 units in the U.S., and 400 in Europe in their first month. They're hoping to eventually reach sales of 5,000. A developer of a casual game sold fewer than 3,000 units across EU and NA in six months, but got a similar number in Japan in just one month. The publisher I spoke to, which is very experienced in the eShop space, told me that with the sort of game I was pitching -- an action puzzle game -- I could expect an income ceiling of about $2,000, and I should plan accordingly.

These are low numbers. It's possible for a savvy indie dev to increase those sorts of numbers and break the mold, but not without some serious marketing support and institutional help from Nintendo. Not without a better-integrated store, greater discoverability, and some space to actually talk about their games in the context of Nintendo's brand.

Renegade Kid is an exception. The Austin, Texas studio has found success on the eShop, and Nintendo has supported it. But that support really does feel like a calculated exception on Nintendo's part, rather than the rule. Renegade Kid says it's ridiculous to say Nintendo is closed -- that you just have to go talk to the company. That's all well and good, but the other companies come and talk to you. They tell you what they're doing, they ask you to meet with them, and they invite you into the fold, and support you once you get there, even if you're a smaller developer like me.

Again, don't mistake this for me disliking Nintendo's indie guy. Dan Adelman is great. He's personable, knowledgeable, and he is in fact the sort of guy you could have a beer with and talk about anything. But Nintendo's draconian corporate tactics keep him completely under rein.

I've received word from a reliable source that Adelman is no longer allowed access to Twitter. You'll notice his last post was in October of last year. Apparently he wrote something along the lines of "I travel a lot, so I feel your pain," in response to someone saying they didn't like the region locking of the 3DS. This was viewed as unacceptable in Nintendo's eyes, so there you go. All they had was that Twitter account, to talk to indie devs. There are no blogs, no casual podcasts, only corporate-created messaging from Nintendo Direct. No more public voice for indie development from within Nintendo. That's it. It's gone.

The uphill climb

For my part, I didn't play the NES growing up. I don't have that nostalgia for Nintendo that others do. More and more young developers grew up with the PS2 as their first console. People like this need to be convinced to make games for Nintendo's platforms. We simply don't have that default love of Nintendo that drives others. And those eShop numbers are not convincing. The Wii U's sales numbers are not convincing. The lack of funding is not convincing. Nintendo's digital storefront is unwieldy, fragmented across platforms, and sports poor discoverability -- that is not convincing. Its antiquated policies toward management of online friends are not convincing. And a lack of interest in even speaking directly to developers publicly is not convincing.

When I received the almost form-letter style notice from Nintendo's public relations team that Adelman would not be allowed to speak with us, this was my reply:

"This is a bit unfortunate, but I do understand. This article is about putting a human face on the indie initiatives of the big three platform holders, and we've already got Adam Boyes and Chris Charla with some real humanizing words. I understand it's against Nintendo's policy to privilege the individual, but here you have Sony and Microsoft saying to developers, 'Hey, this isn't some big faceless corporation. Here are a couple guys you could just shoot the breeze with, and oh, they happen to run the indie initiatives for their respective giant companies.' Unfortunately, by not participating, Nintendo will continue the stereotype it has perpetuated for 15 years (give or take) of being unfriendly and unindulgent of third party developers, regardless of whether it's true.

"Now, say you have a console that hasn't exactly inspired massive developer and thus consumer confidence. Activision isn't going to spend millions on an exclusive. In cases like this, developers with lower budgets but who take interesting risks tend to be who you want to rely on. That's how interesting surprise hits like World of Goo come about, after all. Wouldn't that seem like something to encourage? I am not currently encouraged to release my own games on Nintendo hardware, and Dan is the closest thing to convincing me. He is literally the only one with the power to do so.

"I am saying this more as an indie developer myself, less as a representative of Gamasutra. Nintendo's PR should care more about this issue than I do. You need indies right now, they are who have the ability to make games quickly for your console. They can give you talking points, and success stories, and the ability to move into the digital future instead of being stuck in the retail past.

"So I do understand why Nintendo has turned down this particular opportunity, but this understanding makes me sad to see that Nintendo has not yet learned to love developers, who someday, maybe, might be the ones to turn this ship around. I can't change your whole policy overnight, but baby steps such as letting Dan be a human in front of the game development community feel like a really good thing, no?

"This is not a personal attack against you, but I do think that this is the wrong stance for PR to be taking in general in times like these."

Here is the response I received back:

"Really appreciate the background and insights, Brandon! And looking forward to any future opportunities. Have a good weekend!"

It's dismissive and troubling. Nintendo, as I've mentioned, doesn't want to put any individual in the limelight. They prefer to let the company as a whole be its own representative. And that's the trouble. The company is being its own representative, and it's publicly representing itself quite poorly to developers. It is representing itself as a big, impenetrable box. Nintendo could get away with that when it was doing gangbusters, but can it get away with it now?

As Chris Kohler said in a Wired article from December, "You’d think they’d be a natural fit for the lower-powered Wii U, and yet despite Nintendo’s push for more indie content, there isn’t much of that happening either."

The problem is that Nintendo's "push" is "Hey, we're here! We've got a platform! Put your games on it!" And that simply isn't enough. Show us why we should make games for your platform, Nintendo. Prove to us that you'll support us when we get there. Talk to us. Unlock a bit of funding for some key creatives in the indie space, and talk it up. Let Dan Adelman speak.

Prove to us that Nintendo consoles are where our games should be. While your corporate policy blocks you from doing something as simple as answer one silly email that makes you look good, I'm afraid you won't be able to.

[Update:] I erroneously stated that Nintendo did not announce that it was free to publish Unity games on the Wii U. They did in fact announce that at the Game Developers Conference in 2013.

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Paul Mason
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Interesting article, especially in light of how active Microsoft has become in engaging with indie developers. One thing that still bugs me is the limited support for many countries. I'm based in South Africa and only Apple and Microsoft allow me to publish and receive payment directly. Google, Sony and Nintendo don't (they cite taxation issues as the problem, which is BS since other companies have no problem).

David Montgomery-Blake
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I would expect them to have something similar setup, but if it was not a part of their third-party licensing and distribution planning, then there are major taxation issues moving into new locales. It's a huge problem to tackle, and I've been on that side of it, unfortunately. Just because one company had it as part of its strategy and made it seamless doesn't mean that another one can pick it up and make it work the same way on a whim. For companies like Nintendo and Sony that have content deals in place in many regions, I would expect it to be a part of their strategy, but if (in the case of Sony, especially) they are working with content parties that are already licensed in those regions, it makes it easier (big film/game studios with distribution deals already in place in various regions, etc).

andreas grontved
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I'm so sad about Nintendo. They were dear to my heart growing up and far far into my adulthood. After I became involved with games I've realized how conservative and unbold they actually are. It feels to me that they actually doesn't want to make great things. They always hold back in almost every franchise be it Zelda, Animal Crossing, Mario etc. They could push things, but they always choose not to.

Jennis Kartens
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They transport the notion of everyone should adapt to what they do, not the other way arround. May have worked in the past, doesn't work today anymore.

Christopher Furniss
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I agree to some extent, but Animal Crossing New Leaf and Mario 3D World (and even the Wind Waker remake) have all done some pretty interesting/daring things. Animal Crossing having Twitter screenshot support and QR codes is pretty bold. Mario 3D world integrating Miiverse drawings/notes/stamps in every level start screen is definitely bold (would the Nintendo of 20 years ago be OK with their players putting loads of images of Mario farting on stuff before literally every level in a Mario game?) Wind Waker's Miiverse integration is on the conservative side of bold, but kind of out of character anyway.

I think Nintendo has always been driven by the need to make great things. It's just that they aren't really sure how to get there anymore.

Wendelin Reich
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The Wii U doesn't need just need more games, it needs more exclusives that make innovative use of the controller. In my view, that would be the only way to convince customers that the U offers a unique value proposition (and the only justification for its lower performance/price ratio).

The big boys (Ubisoft etc.) are largely done with exclusives. Even if they hadn't stopped developing for the U, they were never likely to push its unique features. Who, besides Nintendo, could have done just that?

Indies. That said, it may be too late already.

James Coote
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"Indies" is too simplistic an answer. As mentioned in the article, a fair chunk of indie Wii-U developers are doing it just as a sort of nostalgia trip, and I think the same applies for the fanbase of Wii-U as well. That's not an environment to foster 'innovation'.

In any case, most indies are naturally conservative, sticking to what they know. It's actually pretty hard to innovate with controller use. I've spent the last month experimenting with wiimotes and still ended up with a game that on the surface at least, looks pretty unoriginal

Wes Jurica
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The unique controller isn't that intriguing to me and, obviously, many other people. They threw their weight behind having a screen on the controller thinking they revolutionized the console the way the WiiMote did. It's not compelling enough to be a system selling feature.

James Coote
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Those Wii-U numbers are disturbingly low. I'm currently making a game for Wii-U and I'll need to make at least a couple of thousand sales just to break even. And that's excluding my own time.

Everyone I've encountered at Nintendo so far has been really helpful. Or at least receptive and willing to listen, even if they eventually come back with a no. However, the bureaucracy is byzantine and navigating my way through the system has been an adventure in itself.

Having said that, I'm developing for Wii-U because out of the big 3, it's actually the one I've got the furthest with. I really feel that for Sony and MS, you need to make your game first, then approach them at a later stage of development, when you have something to show.

Whilst with Nintendo, I just had to jump through the administrative hoops and apply a little patience. Plus they did me a deal on the devkit, which was already cheaper than PS4 to begin with. And this despite me having relatively little in the way of credentials.

Jeff Postma
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That's good to hear that someone has had a good experience. I applied to become a licensed dev with Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo early 2013. Sony was the only one that welcomed me open arms even though I only had an XNA prototype game to show them. They didn't give me a devkit or anything like that. Nintendo rejected me with no reason given. Microsoft ID@xbox program also seemed to reject me in their original reply but now they send me emails occasionally.
At GDC 2014 Sony was the most welcoming, and tons of games were being run on ps4's. I re-applied to Nintendo then since they had updated their pages and forms and were running Unity on devkits. I haven't heard anything back yet.

Jim Burns
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I do not think this article is particularly fair or balanced.

3ds was the top selling system in 2013 while also selling the most software for a single system. I do not think the 3ds deserves to get recognized as a failure.

Also, we are seeing daily indie reports of them saying sales on eshop are higher than those of psn, xbla and even ios.

Gunman Clive sold most of its versions on Nintendo.

Jeffrey DiOrio
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Where does it say in the article that the 3DS is a failure?

Brian Peterson
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Nintendo runs extremely efficiently, meaning they are very light on staff. I always hesitate to draw conclusions when they choose not to participate in articles like this, or when they don't participate in the yearly Greenpeace survey.

I agree that it's potentially a missed opportunity, but I doubt Gamasutra is the only site who wants an interview with him. If they changed their PR policy and started scheduling interviews with Dan Adelman, it'd quickly add up to a lot more than just one 30 minute interview. It's arguable how to best balance his time between doing PR or his other responsibilities, but it's clear how Nintendo feels.

Robert Carter
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I agree, it seemed that the author took their decision not to arrange an interview as a personal insult, and even seemed to think he was entitled to having it. Like you state, there are other factors involved with Nintendo's decision and viewing it as 'It would have only been 30 min out of your day!' is a gross over-simplification.

That said, I do wish Nintendo would update their management policies. Banning the head of your indie initiative from twitter because he interacted with the community and not making a big press announcement about Unity dev fee waivers are major signs that the upper management is out of touch with how things happen in todays industry. As a young developer who grew up with Nintendo myself, this is very disheartening.

mark whitten
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they actually did do a press release; was reported on here too lol.

James McWhirter
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Interesting read, and Nintendo not championing their new indie policies is something that has frustrated me over the past two years.

I don't believe it is right or fair to single out two games' sales figures (of which could either be on Wii U or 3DS where the latter has a more crowded eShop, at least here in Europe) and extrapolate from there to generalise and make a statement about how games sell on the platform. On any platform in the world there would sadly be two titles with those sales figures. Renegade Kid certainly is not the exception for success either, I know a number of titles and developers who have found success on the platform or who are happy with their sales figures relative to other platforms.

Likewise, while I wish Wii U and 3DS's indie support would get more coverage, to myself the consumer it certainly hasn't been as bad as you made it out to be, with there being around one indie trailer per multiplatform Nintendo Direct so far, showcasing a bunch of upcoming indie games (some of which are exclusive, like Scram Kitty, the rest not), which put them on the map to me (I bought SteamWorld Dig off such a trailer last year, and Trine 2 got a good 10 minutes or so in a Japanese Direct).

At the last Eurogamer Expo here in Europe, Nintendo dedicated an entire section of their showfloor to current and upcoming indie games, inviting the indie developers themselves to man the stands for their games (it's probably the only chance I'd ever have to have a friendly chat with Image & Form CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson and tell him how great SteamWorld Dig was). I really appreciated that, and it had more substance than Sony's approach where staff were wearing PS <3 Indies Shirts, but there weren't any indie developers present to talk about their games to me.

Of course, Sony's approach is the better one, since as you mention they bring out the indies at big events such as E3 and have most certainly have turned their indie support into a PR win that everyone and the media is happy to report about constantly, whereas Nintendo get hardly any coverage despite the games being there, and again I agree with your point about Nintendo not banging their drum either hard enough, or in the right way. I still believe Nintendo's biggest mistake is how they keep silent on things that shouldn't be kept silent upon. Dan Adelman should be given back his public presence on Twitter.

But yes, a lot of the issues outlined in this article are ones I'd like to see improved upon as well, and are certainly points worth making, but as I mentioned previously I believe the use of isolated and anecdotal evidence in this piece make the situation seem worse than it actually is.

Jed Hubic
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I wouldn't expect much else from the makers of Mario machines.

Richie Sify
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"The problem is that Nintendo's "push" is "Hey, we're here! We've got a platform! Put your games on it!" And that simply isn't enough. Show us why we should make games for your platform, Nintendo. Prove to us that you'll support us when we get there. Talk to us. Unlock a bit of funding for some key creatives in the indie space, and talk it up. Let Dan Adelman speak."

I have never seen such an entitled article in my life. When Nintendo started their indie initative by announcing free Unity, changes to restrictive policies, Web framework which should have made their platform much easier to publish a game on than the PS4 and Xbox One platform, at the time. The gaming media still showed favour to Sony's indie approach over Nintendo because they weren't flashy enough in their announcements and were effectively ignored. Now, the problem at hand is that Nintendo isn't moneyhatting (funding) indie exclusives for the Wii U like Sony or Microsoft, which is laugahble that anyone expected the company to fund a indie game just to be exclusive for a couple of months over the other platforms. I don't unsterstand why any independent developer would willingly lock their game to one platform by choice, and halve their potential sales and market outreach.

Don't be lazy and try to fund and market the game by yourself/ team. If the developers honestly require start-up funds, they can cowdfund their projects on Kickstarter and Indie Gogo. Remember Shovel Knight, Might No 9, Hyper Light Drifter, Hat in Time, Amkirog, Hex Heroes which by the way, most are being released for the Wii U, 3DS and other platforms. Image & Form is a recent success on the eshop and it was achieved mostly through Word of mouth. They didn't get a blog post, E3 stage or any funds from Nintendo to do it. Why shouldn't they expect everyone else to do the same? Moreover, Nintendo does give some exposure through Nintendo Direct, gaming events and developer interviews. In my opinion, it really should be as simple as that, "Here is a free loan of a Wii U devkit with Unity, Web framework and Construct 2. Now go fiddle with it and see what types of games you can create." Of course, some indie developers will succeed on the eshop, and some devs won't for various reasons. That is the risk of game development on any platform.

Brandon Sheffield
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Just to be super clear about one thing - I would really like for Nintendo to succeed. Nintendo is the only console maker right now that is by and large *just* a video game company. Games are their priority. That's why this is frustrating, and why I want them to make some bold changes to meet the current face of the market, and the current ways of doing business and interacting with devs. I wouldn't write an article like this if I didn't care about their future success!

Robert Carter
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Well put! As I mentioned above I understand that Nintendo has reasons for their processes and I would want them to drop how they do things entirely. But Friend Codes instead of a more open net process, hidden policy changes, and banning your Indie ambassador from twitter are signs that the people making decisions dont understand the industry today.

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Don't think Robert has a clear understanding about Nintendo and where its at with the Wii U.

Yes Brandon we know, long letters and editorials such as this show us all how much care goes towards Nintendo. When will the press stop caring so much and take a look at what they are doing as to what they aren't doing for them as a caring person,,then maybe we'll get more neutral things to say given they are more of a business than a buddy. As of now I just see a long rant about not being allowed to talk to a guy.

Christian Nutt
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As someone who is actually much more personally interested in Nintendo's games and platforms than you personally are, I find it incredibly frustrating. Nintendo, as a company, cares deeply about games and game development. But that side of it seems totally insulated from any of the policymaking.

Robert Carter
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wouldn't* want them to drop how they are doing things

sorry for the typo

A W, I understand the situation less than some, more than most. I have worked with them in the past and am currently developing an indie project for the Wii-U. My particular comment here was hastily typed out before running to grab lunch and not proof read or well thought out. However, is there something in particular you disagree with, or were you just going to leave it at an open and empty "you just dont understand"? If youre going to single me out some context would be appreciated.

Alex Campos
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The main problem is that this is not the way to help.
To help you have to propose new ideas, not just shoot down the old ones.
For you it is easy to rant about how frustrated you are, and I get it, I really do, but what are you willing to do to change this situation apart from, pardon my french, bitching about it?
Because you certainly haven't given it a bunch of thought to the reasons behind this decision besides "This is a personal attack on me and, by extension, all indie developers in the planet", and you certainly haven't proposed anything beyond "They should be copying Sony and Microsoft's standing on the matter".
My point is that complaining and making hollow suggestions is not productive, if you want to help this situation how about you actually move off your editor chair and raise some conscience? The reason Nintendo doesn't listen to the internet is simply because the internet is very petty about them, all you guys do is write articles 100 people, tops, read, why don't you organize a collective? Why don't you take time from your daily Twitter sessions to actually rally consumers and developers? Because that would be harder than writing an entitled pity party, that is why.

Stefan Kallin
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These are the kind of questions you wanted your article to be based upon?
(From the interviews with PlayStation's Adam Boyes and Microsoft's Chris Charla. Links are in the beginning of the article.)

* Starting with the basics, where did you grow up?
* What games did you most enjoy as a youngster?
* I've heard about those weird testing rituals in the early days of EA - do you think these were in any way useful?
* You talk about Canada a lot. What's so great about that place, anyway?
* What's your favorite city in the world, then? I know you've lived in a few!
* What music have you been listening to lately?
* Let's have your five best bars in the world, next. And tell me why you like them!

I understand it was a lighthearted interview but it did not do much to enlighten your readers about the indie-developers problems.

This one is definitly better:

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The friend code thing is not used on Wii U at all Robert, Also their online On Wii U is more open and not as closed as it was in the past. People keep typing those things as a hold over to continue their disdain for what Nintendo has done, but they are no longer fact with what is happening now. It like the old comments concerning "Dust" with the "Wii" and how people are still using the comment to haphazardly talk about Wii U now. If you keep saying stuff over and over, people looking for information will began to believe what they read even if the facts are not fully understood. Friend Codes are on the products Wii, DSi, 3DS, Wii U got rid of those things, and we should expect anything after the Wii U to not have them either.

If you want to talk about not having completely unified accounts between all systems for e-shop game cross buying / playing, thats a criticism that can stick as a talking point.

As for hidden policy, I think every company has those so thats nothing new, its a critical point. The Ban info is contested. It right up there with EA / Nintendo Origin rumors. We don't know until we know.

As for working with them, I hope any partnerships you have, had, or continue to have are all good relationships, and I hope you can be critical of the things you wish them to change from within the relationships.

Robert Carter
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A W,

The Wii U not using friend codes and drawing conclusions that they will therefore not appear in the future is a very valid point, thank you for making it. It did bother me that it still existed with the 3DS, another very recent system where I had hoped it would be replaced, and I was perhaps focusing too much on that.

I believe you are correct in assuming that we should take the Wii U as the new norm in this matter.

Saul Gonzalez
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Nintendo is a Japanese company (Sony isn't really, anymore). The Japanese indie scene is quite different, has a different image, and hasn't really produced even a single major financial hit. I think these policies are mostly dictated from Japan and hugely influenced by these regional differences.

Christian Nutt
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I agree, but I also suspect that the decision-making folks at NOA are just as much to blame, too. Nintendo's strength, when it's been on the major up (NES, SNES, GB, GBA, DS, Wii) has been big retail presence and packaged software with broad appeal. I don't think NOA decision-makers understand much else.

Jim Burns
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"The 3DS is doing rather well, but sales are trending down for the platform yearly"

But 3DS was not only the number 1 system sold globally in 2013, but software sales were number 1 as well. So I do not think 3DS is doing bad at all.

I am also hearing that many indie devs are disagreeing heavily with this articles generalized take on Nintendos indie scene (some even argued with you about it on twitter so I do not want to rub that in). You got a discussion going but I think you will need a larger sample size if you want to really turn this hypothesis into a fact.

Also I do not think it is fair to take 2 badly selling indie games and say, ok everyone is selling badly on the eshop. It is a bit irresponsible, when in fact many devs have stated, including the devs being gunman clive, that the eshop version sold even more than the psn, xbla, and ios versions. People are finding success.

Also it was a mistake to link to such an old outdated article:
As Chris Kohler said in a Wired article from December, "You’d think they’d be a natural fit for the lower-powered Wii U, and yet despite Nintendo’s push for more indie content, there isn’t much of that happening either."

The Wii U is scheduled to get over 250 indie games pretty soon. So yes, things are happening.

Sorry, I just do not like nor agree with this article (I like you) , yet I read the entire thing 3 times, so it is very very compelling. Good work.

Alex Campos
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The problem Brandon has with Nintendo is that they are not making a circus out of Indie game development.
While I agree that some of Nintendo's more archaic policies can be annoying, especially to today's entitled indie community, it doesn't mean there isn't work being done.
The problem Brandon has is that Nintendo is taking a more secretive and conservative approach to this, giving indie titles a more IP approach and being selective about it rather than making it a parade of banal 15-minutes of fame for developers.
Brandon, I address this to you directly: What Sony and Microsoft are doing is called Roman Circus, they are making all this fuzz about nothing just to make developers fall for it, Nintendo's approach may be corporate, but it is genuine, just because they are not throwing you a party every few days it doesn't mean they do not care.

Joe Zachery
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So somebody is butt hurt that Nintendo wouldn't allow their article to get more hits then it deserve? Most of these statements seem to be based on a bias towards the Nintendo Way. As Jim Burns stated in his post if you look up the information with real facts. All can be proven to be false or inaccurate statements. I'm sorry it's not Nintendo our anyone job to pay someone to make a game that they then plan to sale for themselves. You put in the work, and effort, and then receive the rewards from them.
The problems of gaming is not just a Nintendo issue is a industry wide problems. They are just suffering more due to their own internal mistakes when it come to decisions made.

Most developers now grew up in the era when Sony money hatted every company. To take them away from a overbearing Nintendo, and Sega. Then Microsoft came in, and beat them in that game due to a superior bank account. Now developers feel they must be wine, and dine or else. Sorry If you don't make a product you don't make any money. The reason people have this hate for Nintendo is because they are the only company. Who really doesn't need any help to stay in business. Once they realize that and focus their business decisions in that direction. They will be better off!

Alex Campos
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The problem with the industry is that the American Way is influencing people into becoming entitled crybabies that bully big corporations into submission with affirmative action and leftist propaganda.
Much like the Let's Play issue that happened last year, in which people were actually defending blatant Copyright Laws infringement simply because unnecessary hours of editing went into the making of Let's Play videos. And despite having every legal and moral right to stop revenue and even take videos down, Nintendo and other companies were bullied into caving by the voice of the internet.
This is just another example of that, a man that didn't get his way and rather than do something productive about it he'll have the internet explode in click-baiting and guilt-tripping.

John Paduch
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@Alex Campos - Wow, you have absolutely no idea how IP/Copyright works in the US, do you?

They had absolutely NO RIGHT to have videos taken down, revenue redirected, or whole channels destroyed. Why? Because the fair use policies make it quite clear that commentary (which LP falls into, assuming there is constantly commentary and reaction, not just gameplay audio) has passed the legality sniff test more than once.

You're nothing but a butthurt fanboy... oh, and an America hater.

James Margaris
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"But how did we find out about it? Nintendo never announced it properly. It was soft-announced through indie developer Brian Provinciano, who simply wanted people to know. "

Maybe you could find out by...reading Gamasutra!

(I have to credit Neogaf for spotting this! Thanks Neogaf!

What you claim happened is that Nintendo never bothered to tell you that Unity was free. What actually happened is that Nintendo told you and you promptly forgot or just didn't care.

I mean, that piece is credited to Christian Nutt, who is posting in these comments!

Stefan Kallin
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I am not a developer or a regular visitor at Gamasutra. Still I knew last summer that Nintendo had Unity free for developers. I also knew about the Nintendo Web Framework. I alerted my son, who has made some web-games and wanted him to contact Nintendo. As he imagined this to be a big fuzz he hesitated. After some more convincing he applied to be a Nintendo developer. A month later he was accepted. Due to lack of time the project is still to be finished.

Bob Johnson
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Nintendo is very thrifty. It is very low priority to spend on public relations for every little indie developer. That's my take.

Pallav Nawani
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Matthew Mouras
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"For my part, I didn't play the NES growing up. I don't have that nostalgia for Nintendo that others do. More and more young developers grew up with the PS2 as their first console."

Sometimes I forget how old I am. Nostalgia doesn't work when it is based on games from the mid 80s to early 90s and you were born in 1995. Ugh.

Craig Jensen
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What if nostalgia for you is playing various text games in the 70s on supercomputers in the national laboratory where your dad worked? Nintendo seems hopelessly late to the scene for me...

Anyway, like most people, now I mainly play on my smartphone (when feeling lazy) and computer (when feeling more energetic.) I have a console but it often seems like so much bother to get it out and play it.