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SteamWorld Dig developers says Nintendo is caught up on the indie market

by Ron Duwell | April 7, 2017April 7, 2017 6:00 pm PDT

Nintendo tried to be the friend of indies with the Wii U, but plans didn’t exactly unfold as the company intended. Sony jumped in to become the early console favorite for many indie developers, and Steam basically became a free-for-all market, leaving Nintendo with very few attractive exclusives. What it got, it often got late.

Not anymore, says one company that has benefitted the most from Nintendo’s indie program. Image & Form has seen two successful games launch first on Nintendo platforms, both SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Heist, and it is prepping to launch SteamWorld Dig 2 first on the Nintendo Switch as well. Community manager Julius Guldbog says, in an interview with MCV, that their success is part of Nintendo catching up to the modern indie market.

With the Wii U and 3DS, [Nintendo] started to realise that they had to get with the times. Publishing for Nintendo consoles has been, in the past, not a nightmare, but pretty close. They make sure every QA gate is good enough. It takes months, and you have to do that for every region, and if you fail, it takes even longer. You have to get a new slot, and release dates are pushed back.

But with the Switch, we only have to make one version and only have one launch – and that’s one version for the entire world, so we’ll have the same version in the US, Europe and a little bit later, Japan and China as well. That saves so much work. It means we can do the translations ourselves, we don’t have to have a new publisher for one specific region – it’s going to be so much easier. They’re basically taking the Steam or App Store approach: one version of the game for the entire world.

From what I’ve seen, just using Nintendo’s publishing tools to set up everything from sales to getting the name right on the eShop, everything like that, it’s much more streamlined and more modern. Even Nintendo’s approach to how they get new indies to join the Switch family – nowadays, they see a good game at a convention and they just walk straight up to them and ask them to develop for Switch. From what I know, they’ve never done that before, so I think they are getting with the times. They know more than anyone what they did wrong with the Wii U, and 3DS in some cases as well, and they really want to fix that.

Says the Switch is almost as powerful as the PS4 and Xbox One

While admitting that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are both easier to develop for and more powerful consoles, Guldbog parted with one more compliment for the Switch, saying that it has enough power to compete.

We’ve had no [development] problems at all. It’s up there with the PS4 and Xbox One. PC will always be the easiest, of course, but [Switch] is up there with the big leagues, which is really good.

Switch isn’t as powerful as the PS4 or Xbox One, but it’s pretty darn close. Just look at Snake Pass or Fast RMX. Snake Pass is extra interesting, because look at how good the graphics are compared to the PS4 version. I think if developers put their mind to it and optimise the game for the Switch, it can run anything.

SteamWorld Dig 2 launches for the Nintendo Switch this summer.

MCV NintendoLife

Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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