In general, the “indie” world has changed. Indie (games, movies, music) used to have a negative connotation associated with it. But that seems to be changing. With more opportunities to consume media in a different way, people are tuning into more indie movies because they’re good. And now, indie games are establishing themselves as one of the main reasons to buy a system – like the Nintendo Switch.
Damon Baker is Nintendo’s senior manager of publisher and developer relations. His job is to find indie support on the platform. In fact, Baker has become one of the most recognized faces of the company’s U.S branch. He’s often seen hosting indie-focused events like Nindies @ Night, or this week’s Nindies livestream. Which kind of seems like Nintendo is putting in a lot of work to make it easier for developers to publish on the platform. They’re also putting more power into the hands of trusted partners, in order to make decisions about what sort of content to put on the Switch. Lastly, they are trying to simplify the process by which developers submit a game to Nintendo.
All of this is great news because that’s what we need now. Especially because the Switch has been out for about a year now. But has Nintendo thought about what kinds of games they want on the platform? According to Baker the short answer is – not really. The longer answer:
“It’s still about quality, first and foremost. But I think we have a better understanding of what is resonating on the system. I think we know that we can tap into – a Nintendo Switch fan is gravitating towards a sense of nostalgia. They’re really digging the types of games and experiences that are heavily inspired by the games that they grew up with. Or certain types of genres, like platformers or Metroidvanias or any of those styles. Or it’s also, you know, kind of a nostalgic slant on graphics – pixelated or retro-styled graphics.”
Honestly, nostalgia is huge. Especially if you’re a Nintendo fan. A lot of people grew up playing Nintendo consoles, so it only makes sense that Nintendo is going to pull some of those characters into the new games and consoles. But they also have to keep in mind that they might want to try to get new customers on board, so they have to walk that fine line. Further, Nintendo has always been a kid friendly, family friendly console. So they are at a bit of a disadvantage in that sense. I absolutely love Nintendo for that fact. I can play it with my nephews or my friends’ kids and not have to worry about what graphics they’re going to see. But at the same time, there are a lot of people who are looking for the M rated content, and that’s not what Nintendo is about.
Baker believes that over the past year, they have been evolving “past what was initially more of a curated content position to now a curated partnership position.” Which means, they’re asking for new developers or new publishers, when they come on board, not to just pitch a brand new game or concept, but to use that opportunity to prove their background. This idea brings more of a holistic approach to gaming, and that’s not necessarily something we’ve seen before. As I have mentioned, I do love Nintendo, so this kind of thing excites me. I look forward to seeing what Baker and his team come up with.