If you ever harbored a childhood dream of building games for Nintendo, now’s your chance: the gaming behemoth has launched a unified developer portal that gathers all of its tools and documentation in one place.
Nintendo’s favored tools and middleware include the Unity game engine, the Nintendo Web Framework (a development environment based on WebKit technologies), and the Nintendo Dev Interface. Once you’ve registered as a developer and built a game, you can sell it through the eShop commerce portal, pending the company’s review and approval.
For the moment, the portal allows developers to build for the handheld 3DS and the Wii U home-gaming console.
Nintendo clearly wants to leverage the same developer ecosystem that allowed iOS and Google Android to become significant gaming platforms. Whether developers will actually show up is an open question, as the install base for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U is much smaller than that of smartphones and tablets, and most indie developers have only so much time and resources to develop new products.
This week’s runaway success of “Pokémon Go,” a smartphone game produced by Nintendo in conjunction with Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Company, adds another variable to the equation. That game has proven a runaway success, boosting the company’s stock price by more than 25 percent in a matter of days; some 7.5 million people have downloaded it for iOS and Android. Clearly, gaming on smartphones is something that can profit Nintendo to a ludicrous degree—but at the same time, the company needs to sell its proprietary hardware, and the games that run on it.
How Nintendo negotiates this consoles-vs-phones dilemma will determine whether it can succeed in the face of fierce competition from Sony and Microsoft. For game-builders who are interested in having the House of Mario and Zelda on their résumé, though, the company’s new developer portal offers the opportunity to make some cash from Nintendo’s need (at least for the moment) to maintain its hardware portfolio.