Nintendo Switch Attracting Big Developer Interest

Although the PC remains the most popular platform for game developers, there’s growing interest in the Nintendo Switch, a relatively new console that transforms into a tablet for on-the-go play.

The Game Developers Conference’s newest State of the Game Industry report (PDF) surveyed nearly 4,000 game developers in order to ascertain the latest trends. Although only 12 percent of respondents said they were currently developing games for the Switch, some 36 percent said that Nintendo’s platform interested them as developers—beating out VR headsets (33 percent), smartphones/tablets (30 percent), and Microsoft’s Xbox franchise (28 percent). Only PlayStation 4 and PCs beat out the Switch (with 39 percent and 59 percent, respectively).

“This is a big deal for Nintendo, given that in our surveys respondents typically favor PC, mobile, PS4, and Xbox One,” the report added.

At this point, the Switch has been around long enough for developers to offer some feedback on sales performance. Of those who had built at least one game for the Switch, some 28 percent said they had sold more units than average on Nintendo’s platform. Another 23 percent said that sales had been average, and 16 percent said less than average. (Some 33 percent had either only launched games on the Switch, or experienced “other issues” that prevented them from making a cross-platform comparison.)

In addition, developers expressed a high degree of confidence in the Switch’s future, at least compared to Nintendo’s previous platforms; nearly three-quarters of them believe that the Switch will outsell the Wii U, the console’s immediate predecessor.

At the moment, Nintendo is deliberately bottlenecking the number of indie developers building for the platform. “Right now we are being very selective about who we’re letting into the development environment, and through our portal,” Damon Baker, Nintendo of America’s head of partner management, told Gamasutra last year. “Whereas with the Wii U and 3DS, we opened that up to everybody. I think our mentality was to cast big net, [but] you’d never know when the next great piece of content was coming, or where it was gonna come from, or where it was going to permeate.”

That being said, Nintendo envisions indie developers as a major component of the Switch’s ecosystem. “We’re just telling publishers and developers to reach out to us if they haven’t heard [from] us already. And if they’ve got a pitch for the perfect content for Nintendo Switch, we definitely want to hear about it,” Baker added at the time.

Those developers interested in building for the Switch should register for a Nintendo Developer account. Familiarity with Unity, the popular game development platform, is also a big plus.

Game developers have a broad choice of platforms, and often not enough resources to cover them all. Choosing platforms is often a difficult (and highly emotional) task—but based on early indications, it seems that the Switch could be here to stay.