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Nintendo (NCL) wants to avoid devaluing indie games, sees them the same as AAA, wants both on Switch

Oct 25, 2017
1,685
#1
Interview 1/2: (2 pages)

https://entertainmentstation.jp/177243

Interview 2/2: (3 pages)

https://entertainmentstation.jp/178842

This is an interview with two Nintendo (Nintendo Company, Limited) employees in Japan.

I give my thanks to Fukuzatsu for translating and verifying the articles. Please give thanks to him because these were pretty long.

Interview 1/2

What is an "indie game" as seen from Nintendo?

The editorial department who visited Kyoto hit directly with Mr. Yusuke Soejima and Mr. Park Seong-sa who are actively in charge of indie games at Nintendo. I talked with them about Nintendo's unique indie game policy that can be said only because they are active at the forefront as a window with indie creators.
To summarise, Mr. Yusuke Soejima and Mr. Park Seong-sa including those in their department work with indie developers.
___

On how titles are treated on the eShop.

As Nintendo, how is the difference between indie game and conventional game recognized?"

"Park: On Nintendo platforms, we don't really differentiate between AAA titles* from established firms and indie games. In actuality, they're lined up as equals in the Nintendo eShop. We don't specially promote indie games just because they are indie games, and conversely we don't prioritise them below AAA titles either."

*Read as "Triple-A Title". There is no clear definition, but it refers to big hits and other popular games, as well as large-scale games with a large development budget.
On bringing indie awareness on the eShop in Japan.

As was also mentioned at the beginning, unlike other platforms, indie games are handled in the same line as major companies titles on the Nintendo Switch eShop. In recent years, being indie in overseas is becoming one brand-like position, and users increasingly playing indie games are also increasing.

"Park: As we manage our projects with indie games, we think it would be great if [indie games] could be [one among numerous] attractive brands. However, in Japan, awareness about indie games is still pretty weak, so first we want to get customers to recognise [this brand of products] and see them as appealing. We don't want to 'discriminate' just because they are indie games."
Why they wouldn't want to risk using an indie label in Japan.

What distinction?

"Park: For example, if we made a store just for indie games, and customers began to think that only boring games were put there, then in the future you could potentially have a market where just the label of 'indie game' causes customers to ignore a product."
Branding risks.

So you're saying that the label of 'indie game' could actually work against something?

"Park: While it would be nice if the label of 'indie game' always added some kind of value to a product, there is always the possibility that branding something in this way could cause others to ignore it. That's something we must avoid at all costs, I think."
The following is Google translated but it reads fine.

On using Player's Voice to give exposure to games available on the eShop.

Are there titles etc that I'd like to pick up and recommend in the future?

Soejima: Currently Nintendo Switch develops game news that introduces game content, etc. on the release date of each title, but there are customers that find "it is difficult to understand which title is interesting" alone. So we started deploying in the game news section "PLAYER'S VOICE" which introduces titles that are popular according to the questionnaire result of the customer. In the first round, "Overcooked®" which was popular as an indie title is taken up.

Park: We wish to continue about once a month. It is hard to say which titles to recommend as Nintendo, but I hope to introduce popular items from customers.

Sojima: At the end of last year, the ranking of software which had high recommendation degree was also announced at "PLAYER'S VOICE RANKING", but after the "Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild" and "Super Mario Odyssey" in the whole Nintendo Switch "Steam World Dig 2" ranked 3rd, "Overcooked®" ranked fourth.
That ends interview 1/2

Interview 2/2

There is only one part of the interview I wanted to show and here is the transcription.

Please tell us about the prospects for the future of Nintendo's indie games, medium term and long term. What kind of vision do you aim for at the moment?

Soejima: First of all, we just want to get developers on board with developing for our platform when they decide what to develop games for. It's not really a 'goal' per se, but before the Switch really got going, when we would see trailers or posters at events, the platforms that would always be shown at the end were almost always other companies' machines. There was really nowhere where you would see the 3DS or WiiU supported... It was absolutely a situation where we weren't even seen as a practical option. It was here that we thought we'd like to have the Switch's logo up there with the other companies'.

"Park: Fortunately, Nintendo Switch has seen international success, and I think the opportunities for us to be a viable platform have increased. Going forward, we'd like to maintain our momentum, and become a platform developers make content for, from the beginning of development and as a matter of course, alongside the others."

"Park: Looking at more long-term ideas, it's not something just the two of us can do on our own, but there's a cycle we would like to see the entire industry work to support, of indie developers being able to easily produce titles, get a real ROI from them, and then easily move on to the next title, with other (new) developers following their example to enter the industry."

"Soejima: If a given title sells really well, then it can be recognised as its own IP, and it would be great if such an IP can go on to last in the industry and be accepted by consumers. The entire game industry, not just Nintendo, needs to think about how to increase the number of titles born from the indie game scene. Lastly, I just want to say that while indie games tend to be associated with the digital world, we've learned that as a 'community', it is actually incredibly analogue. It's a scene that emphasises connections between people, and that's something we want to place importance on as well."
There was more info for Interview 2/2, such as Mr. Park recommending Stardew Valley for playing by yourself and Overcooked for playing with friends. Mr. Soejima for a long time wanted to play Enter the Gungeon, and he likes the SNES look of Owlboy. (I can't find the correct name of the puzzle game he likes)

Note: I've only picked from parts of the interviews, not everything was translated.
 
Last edited:
Oct 27, 2017
22,469
#4
I think someone from Nintendo said this a while back. That’s why indie games fill the perceived “gaps” between big games. There’s no distinction for Nintendo and every week there seems to be a good game on the Switch.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,116
#5
Interesting, thanks for sharing. NCL seems to avoid labeling games as indies while NoA/NoE likes their Nindies label. Is this a Japanese thing? Does the label "indie" felt the same as doujin games there?
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,371
#7
Who cares anymore. Look at some of the most popular games on all consoles and pcs. Rocket league, minecraft, are pubg all what I would consider indie games and look at their playerbases. If anything I think the term AAA should go away bigger sure as hell doesnt mean better anymore.
 
OP
OP
ggx2ac
Oct 25, 2017
1,685
#8
Interesting, thanks for sharing. NCL seems to avoid labeling games as indies while NoA/NoE likes their Nindies label. Is this a Japanese thing? Does the label "indie" felt the same as doujin games there?
As pointed out on the interview, indies aren't that popular in Japan like in the west. They don't want to start using an indie label right away because consumers might generalise all of them as being crap.

While on the other hand, games such as Minecraft, Overcooked, Stardew Valley, Human Fall Flat and more have sold well going by Japan eShop rankings on Switch so maybe they don't need to push an indie label as of yet.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,355
#9
Interesting point about creating a kind of "indie" section - like Xbox 360's explicit indie game section really didn't have a great reputation and made the whole selection of games easy to ignore.

One thing that helps with this is Nintendo being really strict on curation right now, I wonder when they'll slack that a bit.
 
Oct 27, 2017
889
#10
Makes sense, since Nintendo doesn't get much of the big AAA games on the Switch, so having Indie titles just be seen as "games", helps the developers and Nintendo.
The eShop still needs a better grouping layout and sorting function, so that people find older titles.
 
Oct 27, 2017
4,178
#11
Read as "Triple-A Title". There is no clear definition, but it refers to big hits and other popular games, as well as large-scale games with a large development budget.

this says everything.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,371
#12
Interesting point about creating a kind of "indie" section - like Xbox 360's explicit indie game section really didn't have a great reputation and made the whole selection of games easy to ignore.

One thing that helps with this is Nintendo being really strict on curation right now, I wonder when they'll slack that a bit.
I do not think they will ever just let anything through the gates. I am sure that the game selection will always be curated some way.
 

Deleted member 14002

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Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,121
#16
This is a good thing. Indies have been racing to the bottom for a long time.

Unfortunately I don't think that most people will purchase the more expensive Switch version if they can get the title for a fraction of the cost elsewhere.

I also don't see the majority of Indies as on par with AAA, there are certainly exceptions but for the majority no.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,486
ベラルーシ
#17
it makes sense – some smaller Nintendo 1st party games are competing for the same audience. For example, it would be hard to sell games like Mario Golf or Tennis for $40 (or even $60) when you can buy a similar indie title for $15 or less.
 
Oct 25, 2017
409
#18
I'm probably wrong but I always felt like the definition of a AAA game changed with the PS360 generation. Growing up I always defined AAA as quality, and honestly I felt that's what most people did when I discussed games on forums back on IGN and the like. Never thought it was exclusively related to budget until the last 10-12 years.

In that sense I like that Nintendo seems to be looking at it through a similarish scope.
 
Oct 27, 2017
331
#20
The problem isn't that Nintendo isn't getting AAA games. The Switch isn't even getting the AA games that would most likely sale well on it.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,794
Seattle WA
#22
Making games that are about as fun as Indies but charging $60 devalues Indies.

Owl Boy
Axiom Verge
Stardew Valley
Steamworld Dig series
Iconoclasts
All $20 or $40 if physical

Compared to

DKTF
Kirby
Yoshi
All $60

And those indie games are better games that if money wasn't even a factor I would rather play than the $60 Nintendo games. I want to play the Nintendo games too, but Indies are just too awesome and value is so good that the $60 sidescroller is just a bad value now. I think Nintendo should get a little premium for name recognition, but not $40.

Kirby/Yoshi/DKTF should be $30 or $50 for physical. But since they're $60, I'm just buying a bunch of indie titles this spring. Way more fun for the money.
 
Oct 27, 2017
828
#23
Pretty forward thinking by Nintendo, and accurately reflects the mix of games that are propelling the success of their platform. I enjoy the simplicity of their eShop and how it just gives the list of game with prices, not really trying to segment them into any arbitrary boxes.

There was that other thread discussing how Nintendo is having a weak Q1 in terms of big name titles, but I guess I just don't see it. Sure, Nintendo's output itself isn't a massive continuation of last year, but then you have a game like Celeste that comes out and accomplishes nearly everything it sets out to do perfectly. Budget =/= quality, and it's smart for Nintendo to treat each game release by it's own merits instead of treating games with indie roots as a "big indie release".
 
Feb 13, 2018
279
US
#24
“There was really nowhere where you would see the 3DS or WiiU supported... It was absolutely a situation where we weren't even seen as a practical option. It was here that we thought we'd like to have the Switch's logo up there with the other companies.”

Corporate entities making me feel things, awww. You can practically feel the dejectedness here.
 
Nov 27, 2017
3,925
#26
Pretty forward thinking by Nintendo, and accurately reflects the mix of games that are propelling the success of their platform. I enjoy the simplicity of their eShop and how it just gives the list of game with prices, not really trying to segment them into any arbitrary boxes.

There was that other thread discussing how Nintendo is having a weak Q1 in terms of big name titles, but I guess I just don't see it. Sure, Nintendo's output itself isn't a massive continuation of last year, but then you have a game like Celeste that comes out and accomplishes nearly everything it sets out to do perfectly. Budget =/= quality, and it's smart for Nintendo to treat each game release by it's own merits instead of treating games with indie roots as a "big indie release".
Yep this week we’re getting the awesome ace of seafood, which should scratch the edf itch. Not to mention the classic magical drop 3
 
Jan 25, 2018
467
#27
Couldn't agree more, especially when for a while there, everything was open world and a collect-a-thon.
isn't that still the case for 95% of the games these days? To me it comes across that developers/publishers are scared to put out a good 15 to 20 hour game. Variety comes a long way, not everything NEEDS to be open world, and not every franchise works with an open world model.
 
Oct 28, 2017
5,379
#29
Making games that are about as fun as Indies but charging $60 devalues Indies.

Owl Boy
Axiom Verge
Stardew Valley
Steamworld Dig series
Iconoclasts
All $20 or $40 if physical

Compared to

DKTF
Kirby
Yoshi
All $60

And those indie games are better games that if money wasn't even a factor I would rather play than the $60 Nintendo games. I want to play the Nintendo games too, but Indies are just too awesome and value is so good that the $60 sidescroller is just a bad value now. I think Nintendo should get a little premium for name recognition, but not $40.

Kirby/Yoshi/DKTF should be $30 or $50 for physical. But since they're $60, I'm just buying a bunch of indie titles this spring. Way more fun for the money.
You can't run a business like this, valuing games based on something as subjective as 'fun'. I'm sure if you asked around people would not find Super Mario Odyssey or BotW remotely fun at all either so are they rip-offs too?
 
Oct 27, 2017
828
#30
Yep this week we’re getting the awesome ace of seafood, which should scratch the edf itch. Not to mention the classic magical drop 3
Just looked at the trailer for Ace of Seafood and it looks dumb as hell in all of the best ways, lol
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,112
#31
Makes sense considering the line up is pretty empty so far this year. It needs to fill those gaps and indies are doing that. However charging full price when there's deals even pre release on other platforms is crazy. I don't get why they don't get more discounts.
 
Oct 28, 2017
233
#32
I’ve heard concern that a Virtual console system would harm the Indies so to speak in terms of cheap priced classic Nintendo games and the charts would be flooded with them. What are people’s thoughts on that?
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,064
#34
NOA/NOE use the term Nindies but it's worth pointing out that the people dealing with indies(Damon Baker for instance) are the same people who deal with the big third parties.

“There was really nowhere where you would see the 3DS or WiiU supported... It was absolutely a situation where we weren't even seen as a practical option. It was here that we thought we'd like to have the Switch's logo up there with the other companies.”

Corporate entities making me feel things, awww. You can practically feel the dejectedness here.
Tembo must have broke their hearts.
 
Oct 28, 2017
5,379
#35
Makes sense considering the line up is pretty empty so far this year. It needs to fill those gaps and indies are doing that. However charging full price when there's deals even pre release on other platforms is crazy.
There are deals pre-release on Nintendo Switch too...
 
Dec 21, 2017
4,264
#36
I do tend to avoid the indie section lol

Always be browisng best sellers x.x
In EU most of the best sellers are indie: Overcooked, Enter the Gungeon, Rocket League and Stardew Valley has been in the top 10 forever.

In JP everytime i check their best sellers, Human Fall Flat is always there.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,967
PA - US
#37
This is awesome and an approach I want to see more of! Celeste is one of my favorite games this year, and I value it more than some AAA titles. There's no reason that a game's budget or development status should change the perceived quality/placing.
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,084
#41
beautiful

this approach seems to be working as well, seeing the success of so many indie games on the Switch

games are games, nuff said
 
Oct 27, 2017
828
#42
Making games that are about as fun as Indies but charging $60 devalues Indies.

Owl Boy
Axiom Verge
Stardew Valley
Steamworld Dig series
Iconoclasts
All $20 or $40 if physical

Compared to

DKTF
Kirby
Yoshi
All $60

And those indie games are better games that if money wasn't even a factor I would rather play than the $60 Nintendo games. I want to play the Nintendo games too, but Indies are just too awesome and value is so good that the $60 sidescroller is just a bad value now. I think Nintendo should get a little premium for name recognition, but not $40.

Kirby/Yoshi/DKTF should be $30 or $50 for physical. But since they're $60, I'm just buying a bunch of indie titles this spring. Way more fun for the money.
I kind of wish that Nintendo should be more open to using the $40 dollar pricing model more for some of their less ambitious titles. All of the examples you gave are ones that I'd have trouble justify spending a full $60 on based on their scope--they will be fun games for sure, but nowhere near the likes of Mario and Zelda. I remember they did this last gen with Captain Toad (which I think was 30?) and I totally felt like I got my moneys worth.

That being said, Nintendo has no incentive to lower prices on these titles as they are all massive franchises that are going to sell well based on who's on the cover. Even though the indie titles mentioned may have superior gameplay, they can't get away with charging 60 out of the gate, since they have no brand recognition outside of enthusiasts.
 
Oct 27, 2017
4,346
#43
I view indies the same way I would any other game. They compete equally for my money, and outnumber games from the big publishers by a wide margin.
 
Nov 4, 2017
782
#48
Great

I know Nintendo have caught some flak in the past from many notable indie devs (including Lorne Lanning) so it's nice to see them get their shit together.
 
Oct 31, 2017
2,517
#49
Smart. Like some people say, "the small indies companies of today are the EA, Ubisoft, Square Enix, Capcom, etc of tomorrow."
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,794
Seattle WA
#50
You can't run a business like this, valuing games based on something as subjective as 'fun'. I'm sure if you asked around people would not find Super Mario Odyssey or BotW remotely fun at all either so are they rip-offs too?
Then why did Sony charge $40 for Ratchet & Clank, Everybodys Golf, and Tearaway on PS4 from day 1?