Indie devs discuss their Switch experience, working with Nintendo, positives/negatives of eShop curration

Indies are swarming to the Switch every single week. There's already been a huge rush of indie support, and with that has come some very big sales for devs. Gamasutra rounded up a ton of indie devs to talk to them about their Switch experience thus far, and to also find out what changes they'd like to see hit the eShop.

Omar Cornut of Lizardcube, developers of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap:

“It was incredible. The Switch is our most successful platform by far. We went past 100K copies sold on Switch a while ago now.

From a technical point of view, it didn’t affect us very much because Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap and its engine were designed to be easily portable. Even though we were busy finishing the game itself and the Switch SDK were in their earlier versions, we had a basic version of the game running in less than a month. It also helps that Nintendo really improved the quality of their development ecosystem for this generation.”

Ben Lee, of Morphite dev Blowfish Studios:

“It was definitely a good move to port and publish Morphite on the Switch. Our game sales for Morphite on the Nintendo eShop have been much higher than other consoles and Steam. It does require more effort to get games on the Switch, but the sales numbers make up for the cost of that effort.

If Nintendo can add more features for the player community like Achievements and the online module, that will help devs create more varied and unique games. Those features may also improvement player engagement if used correctly.”

Brian Kwek of Ysbryd Games:

“The Switch is a really important platform in so many ways right now. Nintendo's franchise exclusives, not to mention the portability of those games that have been the domain of fixed console systems, have really captured a huge swathe of old-school gamers. Momentum is clearly building up for an impressive install base.

All of our ongoing ports are for games developed in Unity, but two of our games are experiencing serious issues with loading times. So we're currently spending a fair bit of time on problem-solving here.

Store curation is always going to be the key to this. "It would be awesome for Nintendo to communicate to devs and publishers that they are interested in growing the curation options on the store beyond the current New Releases, On Sale and Best Seller charts. I've always thought Apple does an incredible job curating stuff on the App Store, as unfathomably large as the iOS ecosystem is, and Nintendo could stand to take a few cues from Apple there!”

Ole Ivar Rudi, Art Director at Rain Games, developers of Teslagrad and World to the West:

“The Switch being both a portable device and a console by design turned out to be a big part of the appeal, as this meant that Nintendo directed nearly their entire userbase onto a single device this generation.

Luckily, Unity support was very well-developed from the get go on Switch. Often, using a middleware engine like Unreal or Unity often means waiting for features from the current PC iteration of the engine to be incorporated in the console builds (this is especially common on systems in their twilight phase like the Wii U or Vita), but on Switch we were able to pretty much start porting directly without doing too many workarounds or rolling back features.

Our initial plans for the Switch were originally just to port our second game, World To the West, but when we first got the development kit we did some tests using Teslagrad as it's a smaller, less complicated game. We were very surprised by how well the initial build ran on the hardware, so we basically decided on a whim to spend a couple months polishing it for the platform as a side project alongside the World To The West port and releasing both.

Nintendo has been very active in terms of promoting indies under the 'Nindie' umbrella so far both on the storefront and in social media. Hopefully they'll keep that up and expand on it even as the list of first party releases grows. Seeing more dedicated spots for Nindie games during Nintendo directs would be great!”

Thomas Happ, developer of Axiom Verge:

“One thing that really truly baffles me is the lack of triple-A third-party support for the system. It's money left on the table, so to speak.

I think they could do more to help third-parties with marketing and sales. Sony I think is still the best in this department - at least in my case, they keep in touch regularly and let me know what kind of sales promotions are coming up so I can opt in or out. Nintendo is more hands off and it's up to you to do your own marketing and make up your own sales. I think they'd benefit from doing more big banner style promotions (Spring fever! Summer madness! Autumn PTSD!)

Unlike with PC or mobile, Nintendo is a much stricter ‘gatekeeper’, though it's lightened up a lot since the days of the NES. I'm really excited actually by how many great indie games I've been able to play on it.“

David Jimenez of 2Awesome Studios:

“There is a lot of hype behind the Switch and the market is not as crowded as Steam. Dimension Drive is our first commercial game, launching it on Nintendo Switch was a no-brainer.

Besides implementing Nintendo APIs for things like saving, Joy-Con input, and the like, the main difference was optimization.
We devoted most of the Switch development time to optimize Dimension Drive to run at 60 FPS while keeping the visuals as close as possible to its PC counterpart. Obviously, the PC version can run at 4K with lots of dynamic lights and shadows which is something we had to reduce for the Switch version but other than that, they are equal. We were developing the PC and Switch versions in parallel and that put extra pressure on us.

It is difficulty to say what will happen, but if we look at the trend with other platforms and markets it is very possible that the Nintendo Switch eShop will see similar problems faced by others. Visibility and the amount of games released per day or week could become a problem in the near future.

The support and help we got from Nintendo was outstanding. We got featured during Nintendo Summer Sizzle that Nintendo America did. Nintendo of Europe brought us also to EGX as part of the Nindies booth. And during launch, Dimension Drive got featured on-device and also as part of the 6 Nindies for Winter. In summary, working with Nintendo was great and we are looking forward to bring more games to the Nintendo Switch in the future.

I think they have been doing a great job so far. The quality of titles in the eShop is very good at the moment. We hope the process keeps being curated to a high standard."

Eric Barone of ConcernedApe, developer of Stardew Valley:

“Nintendo was also a big part of my life growing up, so having the opportunity to bring Stardew Valley to the Switch was really special to me.

Nintendo has been pretty good with promoting indie games on the Switch. With Stardew Valley, they shared trailers and announcements on their official channels, and after the game came out well, they featured it prominently in the eShop. I hope they continue to feature promising indie games in their promotional materials, and frame the indie game sector as a vital part of the Switch experience.”

Edmund McMillen, developer of The Binding of Isaac and The End is Nigh:

“Like almost all devs, I’m a fan of Nintendo, and it was always my dream to release on one of their systems.

Like any platform, I think overcrowding will cause some issues, but I’m not too worried about that on the Switch. It’s great that Nintendo seems on board with tons of dev and they are being very progressive with their policies (especially when it comes to content) so that’s always a win-win situation for indies.”

Tom Spilman of Sickhead Games LLC, the company that ported Axiom Verge to the Switch:

“Axiom Verge was created with Microsoft's XNA, and we had already ported it to Xbox, PS4, and PSVita using MonoGame. The Switch is a great platform and technically great fit for the game, so it seemed like an obvious next port to target. Immediately we had to try to get into the Switch development program. We were lucky and got into the program in late 2016 which let us start porting MonoGame to Switch before it launched. Switch was really a great platform to work with, and the port of MonoGame and Axiom Verge went very well. Within a few months we had the game fully running.”

Beyond Axiom Verge, which was one of the first games shipped on Switch based on XNA/MonoGame, this work let us help a bunch of other developers too (Writer’s Note: including Barone’s Stardew Valley). There are over 15 indie titles coming to Switch using MonoGame in 2018.”

Dave McCabe, writer for The Darkside Detective dev Spooky Doorway:

“We had planned some extra DLC, porting to some other devices, and starting a new title, but these got pushed back as my time was taken up porting to the Switch. As our team is remote and we don’t have a large budget, QA became difficult as we had only a single device. We ended up hiring a contractor with a dev kit to help us out.”

Tracey McCabe, programmer for Spooky Doorway (The Darkside Detective):

“I’m sure the market will be flooded soon, if it’s not already. I don’t see it being a problem. It’ll just make that marketplace as hard to be found on and succeed on as Steam and others have become.”

Jon Price, programmer and writer at aPriori Digital, developers of Aperion Cyberstorm:

“I do see there being a point where discovery may be a problem for the system, and that’s a conversation Nintendo needs to have with developers and the public to work out the best path forward. A welcome page with the latest, currently on sale, and best-selling on one screen could be one way. Another is recommendations.

As more games come to the system, showcasing the ones some may miss promotes a diverse catalogue to pull people in. On the flipside, listen to the community to see if any games are getting attention which Nintendo missed, both those already on the system and not. It gives the former a second wind, and the latter a new audience to meet. A win-win for both.”

Richard Atlas, CEO and programmer at Clever Endeavor Games, developers of Ultimate Chicken Horse:

“The idea that there will be a lot of games on Switch is not an issue in my mind, in the same way that there are a ton of games on PS4 or Xbox One. The onus will be on these console companies to update their algorithm to make sure that relevant stuff is being shown to users who are interested in it. I'm under the impression that this saturation isn't a problem that we can't solve; great games are still finding ways of getting discovered on PC and consoles regardless.”





from GoNintendo

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