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August 30, 2018 2 min read
Releasing a game on a Nintendo platform is a completely different experience for all parties involved.
An overwhelming amount of studios have reported great success and a massive improvement of internal policies compared to the dark days of the Wii and the Wii U. Externally Nintendo seems to be embracing indie developers with greater access to dev kits (confirmed by many smaller studios) and promotions like the "Nindies Showcase" and "Highlight" streams. But not every developer is going to have the same great experience, and Robert Boyd, co-owner of Zeboyd Games, has shared their thoughts on the matter by way of the popular forum ResetEra.
Earlier this month Zeboyd released a Switch port for Cosmic Star Heroine, and it seems as if it did not go swimmingly. Boyd alleges that Nintendo didn't promote it enough, summing the situation up with the following statement (which has since been deleted): "We got an okay number of reviews, but yeah, we couldn't get Nintendo to mention the game anywhere. Real shame since even a retweet from Nintendo probably would have given us a big boost in visibility. I get that it was just a port, but after spending months getting stonewalled by Nintendo when we were trying to get permission to release on Switch, going "fine, we'll play by your rules" and getting a publisher so we could get approved, and still getting ignored by Nintendo when the game was done and set to release is highly frustrating."
Boyd further alleges that Nintendo did not fix the store page before launch despite requests to do so, and that the page was trailer-less and folks were unable to pre-order. Boyd has been relatively outspoken of platform holders for years, and previously criticized Microsoft's indie initiative, also citing low visibility as a critical part of the program's failures. Late last year Boyd also weighed in on their inability to obtain Switch development kits, adding that they were "tired of the runaround from Nintendo," a situation that has since changed. Indie development is often a costly and arduous task, and even proven studios that were founded all the way back in 2009 like Zeboyd are seemingly having a tough time.
A lot of this falls back onto Nintendo's recent shocking "we want 20-30 indie games on the Switch eShop every week" statement that will most certainly impact indie developers. It's a target they're essentially hitting right now (I track every eShop drop weekly, and they're consistently getting 20+ on the platform in the past several months), and the eShop interface is still painfully basic.
While it's easy to celebrate and cheer for the "Switch version sells 10 times more" success stories, it's also important to analyze the less successful tales and learn from them. Cosmic Star Heroine's failure to launch on Switch might not be all Nintendo's fault per se, but it's possibly indicative of some of Nintendo's growing pains as they attempt to accommodate third parties.
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