Dan Adelman worked closely with indie developers during his time as a Nintendo executive, but prior to that, he had a lot of experience working with major third-party publishers while working for Microsoft. It’s no secret that Nintendo has struggled mightily in trying to attract third-party developers to release games on Wii U and 3DS, and many of the most popular multiplatform games skip Nintendo’s platforms altogether. What is the cause of this, and how can Nintendo change it? Adelman tackled these questions in a recent interview. Here’s what he had to say:
It really comes down to the business case for these publishers. Nintendo consumers buy Nintendo systems primarily for the first party content. There’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy in that publishers feel that they can’t compete with Nintendo first party, so they choose not to invest in making high quality products for the platform. There are some notable exceptions to this over the years like Rayman Legends but many times third party publishers set low sales projections for their games, and then decide a development budget based on that. I can’t say outright that they’re wrong either.
There have been cases where companies decided to pull out the stops and make a great game for Nintendo platforms only to find that consumers weren’t interested. And it could be because consumers have been burnt by third party games on Nintendo platforms before.
For Nintendo to break this cycle, I think they need to invest and absorb some of the risk for third parties who try to embrace the features of Nintendo platforms and help communicate to consumers which games are on par with Nintendo first party games in terms of quality. Sony and Microsoft spend a lot of money securing exclusives – or at least exclusive features – on the top games and since Nintendo doesn’t really do that, third parties focus on the other systems. I’m not sure about Sony, but I know Microsoft also has a team of technical people that will go work with a studio for a few weeks or even months to help them make their games as good as they can be on those platforms.
If Nintendo doesn’t want to be a first-party-only system, they may need to be more aggressive in securing those games and making sure that they’re high quality.
— Dan Adelman
Nintendo has helped fund and develop games like The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2 from Platinum Games, and Adelman believes they need to be more aggressive in efforts like those. What developers would you like to see Nintendo work with to bring third-party games to Wii U and 3DS?