Recently, at the Games Creators Conference in Osaka, Japan, Nintendo third party rep Masaru Mitsuyoshi took to the stage to announce the gaming giant's astounding move to make the #NintendoSwitch development kit available for a measly JP¥50.000, which equates to roughly $450.
The big N are hoping their hybrid console dev kit's insanely low upfront cost will be enough to entice independent developers to switch allegiance and submit to Nintendo's eager embrace, developing the kind of content that will (hopefully) harness the console's distinctive capabilities.
Nintendo Might Have Just Become The Industry's Premier Indie Publisher
This should come as interesting news to the industry and fans alike, as the Wii U's development kit was rumored to be priced up to an astonishing $5000. Couple that with a difficult architecture to develop for and a Nintendo that lacked focus, you begin realizing why the console didn't sell in droves.
Nintendo is working pretty damn hard in attempt to capture the market and the public's imagination after the failure that was the Wii U forced us all to disembark at Camp PlayStation and/or Xbox. Thankfully for this post, it seems one luminary has been totally nibbled by the Nintybug. Rami Ismail, the outspoken co-founder of Dutch indie developer Vlambeer, was in a fairly upbeat mood after Nintendo's game-changing announcement.
It’s a radical departure from their earlier exclusiveness that Nintendo is releasing their dev kits at such a low price.
It means more third parties, and mostly more small-to-middle-sized indies will have a chance at developing for Nintendo. It’s hopefully an indication of a more open platform, which would mean more opportunity for independent creators to use the unique possibilities of the Nintendo Switch.
Exactly that! Imagine having titles that actually focussed on and inspired the use of each of the Switch's modes: TV, tabletop and handheld. That was one of my biggest gripes with the Wii U's GamePad: the sheer lack of innovative crossover from TV to handheld.
The Future Is Bright For Indies
Though the Switch's immediate launch line-up, barring The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is looking a little sparse, the big name indie titles coming to the console over the course of the year, like Snipperclips, Yooka-Laylee, Stardew Valley, Rime and Shovel Knight, signal just how serious the big N is regarding its newfound lease on life.
And if you've yet to see 'Yooka-Laylee' in action, check out its trailer below!
Both Microsoft and Sony have been making serious inroads into the indie market, with Sony offering year-long loans of dev kits to smaller studios—and selling kits for $2500, which is somewhat more affordable than the PS3's $20,000—and Xbox One dev kits costing a wee $500.
But the sheer potential of the Switch and, of course, its cost-effective dev kit pricing should be enough to inspire a whole new generation of indie geniuses to spring forth from the woodwork and create titles worthy of wielding Nintendo's Seal of Quality.
From mobile games to small indies and long-awaited, strong third-party support, this news alone has galvanized my excitement for the Switch, after I was fairly critical of the console—and Nintendo's general mindset—back in January. RIght now it doesn't matter that I won't be able to keep NES games downloaded for free from Switch's online service (not that was my sole annoyance).
Why? Because the Switch could be home to the next IPs that could very well change the face of the gaming landscape in North America, much like the Nintendo Entertainment System did. But then again, we could say that about the next great indie to release on PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio.
What do you think? Do you think this move will herald the coming of even better and even more original indie titles for a truly original platform?
If you're interested in developing for Nintendo Switch, head over here for more details.
[Sources: Nintendo, Games Industry Dot Biz: Japan Edition, Twitter, Digital Trends, Polygon, Gamespot]