Indies on Wii U: how does Nintendo’s approach compare to Sony and Microsoft’s?

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Nintendo is working with plenty of indies to bring games to Wii U’s eShop, it’s just not doing a great job of telling anyone about it.

Behind the scenes, it is approaching indies across the globe – besides Japan, it seems – to help fill out eShop’s sparse offering. It is being selective, though. When it does choose to assist a studio, it gets involved in the game’s production a little more than its fellow platform holders to ensure the final game is of sufficient quality, one studio has told us.

We tracked down four studios working on Wii U games right now to ask them how their dealings with Nintendo compared to their relationships with Sony and Microsoft.

Phil Tossell is one of three former Rare staffers who co-founded Nyamyam. The studio intends to release its debut game Tengami on Wii U after its iOS launch. “Nintendo’s approach is slightly different,” he told us. “I think Nintendo are actively seeking indies, but that they’re looking for quality, experienced developers that they can maybe form a longer term relationship with. I get the feeling that they don’t want a free for all like the App Store, rather a more curated experience. Quality over quantity.

“Sony are obviously vocally and publicly courting indie developers of all shapes and sizes and they’re doing a great job. They are already seen by many in the indie community as the place to go. However, this does come with the danger that the indie space might become very crowded on Sony platforms. This then presents the same visibility problems that are so apparent on the App Store.

“As for Microsoft, do they even have an approach to indies? I don’t think indies figure into Microsoft’s strategy at all.”

Dakko Dakko is the creator of The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character and Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims. Its next project is Wii U exclusive Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails.

“Certainly in our experience Nintendo has been every bit as helpful as the other platform holders,” studio director Rhodri Broadbent told us. “They don’t shout very loudly about it, but they are working hard behind the scenes to make their platforms as welcoming as possible.”

Red Thread Games is aiming to release Dreamfall Chapters on Wii U. Founder and creative director Ragnar Tørnquist told us: “I don’t think Nintendo gets enough credit for their indie efforts. There are a lot of intriguing indie titles on the eShop, and they’re obviously passionate about increasing the variety of range of games available. They’re still lagging a bit behind Sony in terms of indie support, but I think that has more to do with how closed their hardware has been in the past, rather than a lack of willingness and engagement from their developer relations.

“As for Microsoft and the Xbox One, I’ve been outspoken about how difficult it’s been to get a foothold there – it’s definitely been easier for us to communicate with Nintendo and get support – but hopefully that will change soon.

“Despite the slow start, I do believe that both the 3DS and the Wii U have a healthy and exciting indie future ahead of them, and we’d love to be a part of that.”

Knapnok Games is working on Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party for Wii U, and is staffed by several members of the Copenhagen Game Collective best known for the development of Dark Room Sex Game, an unofficial, experimental Wii game.

“One of Sony’s core messages at E3 was their support of indies and at the same convention Microsoft got a lot of criticism for not featuring independent game developers as prominently,” Knapnok’s Lau Korsgaard told us. “Meanwhile Nintendo is just doing the right thing without making a big fuss about it. They work on establishing genuine human relationships with the indies. They are working on making their tools easily accessible and free and provide equipment for you and are super encouraging in general.”

There’s more detail on working with Nintendo as an indie here