Why Isn’t Nintendo Opening the Switch More to Indie Developers?

In the year since its release, the Nintendo Switch has become a genuine hit, selling more than 10 million units worldwide. That’s enough to put the console’s rivals, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4, on notice; it’s also good reason for game developers to give Nintendo another look as a platform for their latest games.

The Game Developers Conference’s recent State of the Game Industry report (PDF), which surveyed nearly 4,000 game developers in order to ascertain the latest trends, found that only 12 percent of respondents were currently developing games for the Switch—but 36 percent were interested in building for the platform. That Switch-centric interest beat 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).

While major game studios are working to bring new titles to the Switch, however, indie developers may have a harder time publishing their games on the platform. Right now, Nintendo’s developer portal prominently advertises the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U as supported platforms, with no mention of the Switch.

“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.”

Baker added at the time: “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.”

Those indie developers who built popular games for the Wii U—or even an older platform—might find themselves receiving a call from a Nintendo executive, thanks largely to that prior relationship. But for those developers without a preexisting relationship with the company, the path to launching a game on the Switch seems a little more daunting. Fortunately, the Nintendo developer portal has a useful page of contact information for North America, Europe, and Japan; if you have an interesting game to discuss, you might get lucky.

While you wait for Nintendo to get back to you, you can check out some of the tools the company offers, including the Nintendo Dev Interface, the Nintendo Web Framework, and Unity. In fact, if you’re an aspiring game developer, learning more about Unity is one of the smartest moves you can make, considering how much it comes into play (haha!) in game development.

2 Responses to “Why Isn’t Nintendo Opening the Switch More to Indie Developers?”

  1. whordyjordy

    stupid article and totally wrong. most of the games for switch are indie. have you even looked at the eshop? it’s like 90% indie. wtf planet are you on?

    • Yeah, some what you are right, it I made me mad at Nintendo I feel they are a ” bias company” is the issue, indie or not. I am a 3rd party developer.
      I can only develop for the wiiu and 3ds which I am not impressed with. I prefer pc to that, the only reason was the switch why I intended to be a dev for them, I develeoped a 3d arcade game rail shooter the graphics are hd for pc and cross platorm, its similar to time crisis and vampire night genre wise but different game, but with much realistic cgi in hd. Sadly even that I have years of experience, even worked designed a technology lab and highest level of eduaction is masters degree, what do I need a doctorate?!- I still get treated like novice, while some games made by some indies (not being disrespectful to all indies) look like they was designed by a 5 year old. Its disgusting, I think Nintendo employ bitter jealous staff, as I can do the job of what 10-15 people can do. I mean even sonys gsn network was respectful and even insisted I work with them, but Nintendo well to be honest I think they are trying to bring back the good old days, which is good, but still they don’t know what they are doing if you ask me. I remember once hearing they was targeting non gamers this was before tge switch. I am happy speak out about this to the media and show the evidance. The game is state of the art. I don’t care what the fanboys say leave this between us pros, this is an injustice.