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'Let them slug it out on mobile or Steam' - the quiet benefits of Nintendo's eShop
'Let them slug it out on mobile or Steam' - the quiet benefits of Nintendo's eShop
April 21, 2014 | By Staff

April 21, 2014 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing

"Other studios we’ve talked to that develop for the eShop feel the same: 'Let’s hope the others don’t come here, let them slug it out on mobile or Steam.'"
- Brjann Sigurgeirsson with SteamWorld Dig developer Image & Form talks about Nintendo's eShop on Nintendo Everything.

While game developers vie for players' attention on increasingly crowded digital storefronts, there is one online market that, to some developers, is quieter and more manageable: Nintendo’s eShop.

Image & Form’s Sigurgeirsson called the eShop an “El Dorado” that has yet to be “invaded by greedy, cheapskate (developer) conquistadores who insist on trading glass beads for gold, making shallow games with a minimum of effort and yearning to race us to the bottom.”

Sigurgeirsson added that eShop customers are knowledgeable about games and that the game quality is relatively high, helping make the eShop a developer-friendly environment, particularly for independent developers.

The commentary comes at a time when Nintendo rivals Microsoft and Sony are making public pushes to attract indie game developers to Xbox One and PlayStation. Sigurgeirsson says Nintendo is quieter about its indie push, but is still dedicated to supporting small teams.

“I hope that Nintendo stays the same – it may not be visible to everyone, but they are great at 'handling' us indies – we want to be loved, and we feel that they love us,” he said. “A lot.”

There’s more at Nintendo Everything, including commentary from Toki Tori developer Two Tribes and Pure Chess publisher Ripstone, about the good — and bad — of the eShop.

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Dane MacMahon
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You can definitely find success serving a smaller market well. That's pretty much why Kickstarter has become such a big thing. In the case of games like Toki Tori though surely more platforms are better than less, it's not a game tuned to one small market.

Kenneth Barber
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From the article-an “El Dorado” that has yet to be “invaded by greedy, cheapskate (developer) conquistadores who insist on trading glass beads for gold, making shallow games with a minimum of effort and yearning to race us to the bottom.”

Those "conquistadores" are just trying to get their game into the light based on market pressures in those other App Stores.

Most I know are not cheapskates or greedy and are only using the monetization models they use because, just trying to sell a game doesn't work anymore. The "race to the bottom" is a forced response to current mobile app economics and the "new" consumer assumption that games are free.

I make games to be played and spend a lot of time trying to bring my visions to reality. It seems that these days to not go free is to not have my creation experienced. If Big N has a better model then they should lead us (indies) all into the light so we can get back to prizing gameplay over monetization model.

Merc Hoffner
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Big N's advice was to not race to the bottom in the first place, but everyone ridiculed them for it.

Kenneth Barber
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I agree but they had the opportunity to lead with respect to indie games distribution and monetization from the beginning.

I consider Big N as company to be above the effects of ridicule on the level we are talking about. If they had stood more firmly with the indie community in that early time the "drag to the bottom" would have been slowed. Most indies tried to fight the fall to zero but ended up there anyway because there was no alternative once the ball started rolling that way. If I depended 100% on income from my game offerings right now, I would have a hard time not seeking alternative more non direct revenue streams...

Brjann Sigurgeirsson
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Sorry for generalizing and making everyone look greedy, that wasn't the point, I was being a bit ironic - picture a small band of prospectors huddling around a camp fire counting nuggets: "hope the others can't find us".

I'm not sure I agree with the notion that most indies tried to fight the fall to zero, however - I actually think we devs did this to ourselves, when we were allowed to price our games at will on the App Store, and we handled it poorly. It didn't take very long for the first 'underpriced' games to appear, and 'everybody' wanted to make a quick buck on volume.

$1-2 for a game isn't enough if you cannot count on exposure. Therefore free was destined to supersede supercheap, and now we're stuck with it - until the revolution comes or at least until there are coinciding backlashes among devs and consumers, a call for overall better quality or what have you, at least value for money. A game that's free cannot be condemned for being worth nothing.

I also believe that Big N *has* invited indies to their platforms, and that there are other obstacles that stop devs from going there - such as the cumbersome submission processes, or the suspicion that Nintendo is going to meddle with the development somehow. If you've got a quality game, bring it to Nintendo (or Sony/Microsoft/Valve/Apple). I'll introduce you if you like.

Kyle Redd
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I haven't seen any story of success for an eshop-only release yet, which could also explain why developers aren't in a rush to get on it.