Nintendo’s Message To Indie Developers About The Nintendo eShop

By Ishaan . March 25, 2013 . 10:30am

“You know, it’s crazy that there are so many developers who don’t realize this, but yes, it is not only possible for an indie to get a game onto the eShop service, we’ve tried to make it as frictionless as possible,” says Nintendo’s business development manager Dan Adelman in an interview with Gamasutra.


Indies looking to get their work onto the Nintendo eShop on the 3DS or Wii U do need to be licensed Nintendo developers, but becoming one is a fairly straightforward process, Adelman says. Nintendo have revised a few policies that made the process a lot simpler than it used to be in the WiiWare days.


“We really have only a few requirements to sign up as a licensed developer with Nintendo,” Adelman shares. “The most notable ones are that you have to have some experience making games, you have to be able to keep any confidential materials like dev kits secure and you have to form a company. None of these should be prohibitive to any indie developer.”


The most prominent restriction that has been removed is the requirement for a developer to have their own office space, separate from their home. Additionally, anyone from any country can make their games available on the Nintendo eShop in any territories outside of Japan without the need for an address in that territory.


“As you point out, more and more people are working from home, and we recognize that developers are forming virtual teams around the world,” Adelman admits. “I know we’ve shied away from talking about these things publicly in the past, so I’m glad that I can officially confirm that the office requirement is a thing of the past.”


A Nintendo development kit costs about the same as a high-end PC, Adelman reveals. Additionally, Nintendo are providing the Unity Pro 4 engine to licensed Wii U developers at no added cost. At GDC, the company will discuss its plans to enable easier development using technologies like HTML5 and Javascript for Wii U.


Additionally, Adelman says, Nintendo are soliciting feedback from developers on how to make their development tools better, how to make their processes easier, and so on. They also try to get every developer’s questions addressed as soon as possible. “We have an internal goal of getting every question a response within 24 hours,” shares Adelman. “And if we can’t get an answer in 24 hours, we at least will let them know when we expect to be able to get them what they need.”


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  • Colin

    Please define “about the same as a high-end PC” which is not a good measure of cost as it can vary wildly.

    • lanjoe9

      Maybe it’s not so well defined but it sounds like a lot less than it used to be (some tens of thousands of dollars) which is a very welcome change!

  • I always thought the office thing was a security measure. If you can’t be trusted with a building in which to keep development materials behind an alarm system, how could you be trusted doing anything else?

    • benhofb

      I’m glad that they removed the office requirement. A lot of indie developers do not have the privilege of working in an office, so they will develop from their own home. It is nice to see that they are open to that, as many devs are like that these days.

      Dev-kit concerns will always be there, but the fact that they require you to have experience in making games helps it. If they are a reliable developer that has made games in the past, I doubt that they would be the ones leaking dev-kits onto ebay.

      • I spent most of my teenage years fooling around in Game Maker. I even made a few blobs of code that could be called games by casual observers. I hope that counts.

    • So if the size limitation and late life-cycle in the console system weren’t the issues, Super Meat Boy would have got snubbed from WiiWare anyway?

  • Ethan_Twain

    This is good. Really, this should be the minimum expectation though. It’s a competitive market, with a finite number of quality games being developed and every platform holder is trying to make their platform the most enticing option. Nintendo’s done some good work with making it easier to get licensed and running eShop sales.

  • SirRichard

    As nice as it is that they want to support indies and it’s great that they finally got rid of the office requirement, but “high-end PC” is a rather dubious price range for a devkit, I’d think.

  • benhofb

    Nintendo’s policy on Indie games on the eShop is actually quite nice. While the “high-end PC” price range of development kits is rather ridiculous, it is comforting that only serious devs would be willing to fork out the money for them. That means for Nintendo and consumers that there would be less shovel-ware. I mean, if anyone who’s anyone could use their computer as a development tool and just submit the game for $100, then we would have a problem similar to the Apple or Android app stores.

  • isfuturebright

    The Dev Kit is ridiculous. They don’t understand that indie developers have no money and that it’s very hard to work on your own free time to make something. With some many free platforms like flash, web and great tools like unity, flixel, Nintendo is still faaaar away from indies.

    • If you can’t afford a thousand dollars as an investment for your career, then it doesn’t make sense how you would afford to live, let alone be a game developer.

      • isfuturebright

        It’s not really about being able to afford, but more about what’s the beneffit of all this…. I mean I can imagine being much harder developing for a 3DS then for the web, right? So how can you get the attention from the indies?

        So what I’m saying is give more options to atrack more developers. Give the option to work with their enviroment for free and have to pay only if you want to publish the game, you know? I think it’s all about giving more options really.

        I mean if I have a 3DS why can I get the SDK or something on their website and try to make something for myself? You can do that in any modern platform.

        • The thing is if you’re already able to make a game on an OS format (usually windows using Flash,HTML5, or Unity) the devkits for the DS/3DS and Wii/WiiU just bridges the gape and just makes it easier for you to port the game to a console or handheld. Putting aside money or taking out a loan to get those development kits is basically the equivalent of saving up or taking out a loan for decent laptop or car. It’s not impossible, but precautions do need to be taken and at least for this you are working towards hopefully gaining some kind of investment in the long run.

    • Please explain how flash is free or the ridiculous price of the nintendo dev kit costing as much as a high end pc? Because last I checked that’s still not too ridiculous considering the prices I just found:

    • ronin4life

      Depending on what a “high end pc” is, we are talking between 800$ and up to… 2000 max? That is potentially much cheaper than dev kits used to cost… and is FAR cheaper than patching an online store game on xbox or ps(unless Sony has rid themselves of this policy)

      Doesn’t sound to bad to me at all.

    • Ferofax

      Quality control. If you can’t be bothered to take a loan to invest on a dev kit, you’re not serious enough to be a developer. Indie =/= teenager in a basement.

      Also, you don’t understand that indie developers who are serious about being devs usually take whatever steps necessary to turn themselves into proper devs — like taking out loans against their house or their car so they can afford equipment and working space. Sure, some have no money, but if that’s gonna stop them then they don’t have much to go on with anyway.

  • Whatever prevents the eShop from resembling the X-Box Live Indie shop is something I’m supportive of as Standards > A river of garbage software. Because the means of all developers, indie or not, are different, having some kind of reasonable accessibility to entry is something I hope Nintendo still tries to rigidly balance.

  • Solomon_Kano

    It makes me very happy to hear Ninty’s striving to make their platforms more enticing to indies without it devolving into the outright mess that XBLA’s indie section is.

    It’s interesting to me that while practically anybody can get a game into XBLA’s indie section, there are a lot more hoops to jump through to get games onto the “main” XBLA than what one has to go through on PSN or Nintendo’s newer digital services. It’s unfortunate because it means lots of shovelware makes it in, while games of a higher standard still can’t see release on the platform due to certain policies in place. A real shame.

    I’d like to hear more indies talk up their experiences with the big three platform holders. Brian Provinciano’s (Retro City Rampage) provided some insight into Sony’s workings with indies, the troubles with XBLA, as well as some perspective of Nintendo’s older policies, so I’m glad to see the Wii U and 3DS will prove more friendly for devs like him. I’d definitely like to hear more folks’ experiences with the three.

  • puchinri

    Wow, lol, no excuses now. It’s nice that they’ve become so accommodating and adapted well. Hopefully a lot more indie devs will take advantage. I know I’m excited for Cryamore to be hitting the Wii U E-shop, and it’ll be really nice to see who else works on a project and manages enough funding to bring it to other platforms.

  • I’m guessing there are still enough indie devs with bitter memories of WiiWare that it’ll take them a while to warm up to Nintendo’s new indie-friendly policies, but it’s good that Nintendo is trying to reach out. Hopefully the Wii U and (especially) 3DS will become regular destinations for indie games in the future. I recently played and enjoyed Gunman Clive for the 3DS, which is probably the “indie-est” title I’ve bought on a Nintendo system since World of Goo, so I hope I’ll be able to play more neat, creative little games like that on my handheld.

  • Sergio Briceño

    That was way more accessible that I had thought. Hope this means more developers jump in.

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