Nintendo Thinks It Can Win Over Third-Party Developers

One of the Wii U's biggest weaknesses was third-party support. But this time, Nintendo doesn't want to repeat that mistake with the upcoming Switch.

[Image: Nintendo]

Last month, Nintendo announced a slew of third-party titles for the Switch, including Skyrim. A promising sign? During a recent financial meeting, Nintendo talked more about this time will be different (which, I feel, is something I've heard before).

"For our previous game platforms, creating our own development tools was a high priority for us," says Nintendo exec Shinya Takahashi. "However, since the start of Nintendo Switch development we have been aiming to realise an environment in which a variety of different third-party developers are able to easily develop compatible software, such as by making it compatible with Unreal and Unity as well as our own development tools."

Shigeru Miyamoto added that third-party devs who are making PC title can "now easily adapt" those games for the Switch. "In the current development environment, Iʼd say that it would take less than a year for them to port a PC game to Nintendo Switch."

People do buy Nintendo hardware to play Nintendo games, but it would be wonderful if its recent home consoles saw the kind of support its handhelds have.

Internally, Nintendo has also made changes to its corporate structure that should streamline development. Software development teams for home consoles and handhelds used to be in different departments, but now, according to Miyamoto, they have been merged.

Moreover, Miyamoto said that Nintendo's own staff have been feeling "the ease of software development" for the Switch. "Also, even though game software developers in the US and EU are often said to have superior skills to their Japanese counterparts when it comes to software development techniques," Miyamoto continued, "Nintendoʼs software developers have mastered state-of-the-art technologies such as Unreal engine, and their skills can now be compared with those of Western developers."

The desire of Japanese game makers to create their own game engines has always seemed costly and ineffective. Nintendo's decision to make industry standard tools available should hopefully mean more third-party games end up on the Switch.


"Nintendo will keep on creating unique software," said Takahashi. "By doing so, I believe we will encourage third-party developers to create a number of quality software titles for Nintendo Switch."

I feel like this has been the attitude since the N64, and it hasn't always translated into third-party support in the past. Maybe this time will be different.


    Reminds me of that Golden casket ad...

    "Dreeeeeaming... don't stop dreeeeeaming..."

      Now I'm imagining Miyamoto bouncing around during an important meeting cause he's won an instant scratch'it.

    Yep. Be totally different this time. Doing all the same things they did last time. Totally different outcome. Totally.

      "I'll take 'What's the definition of insanity' for a hundred dollars Alex!"

    If the tools they have developed in a year make it super easy, there is no reason for devs to neglect the market on Switch if it's big enough.

      Except they neglected the market on Wii and it was huge. The general consensus is Nintendo customers only really buy Nintendo systems for Nintendo software. So if enough people buy EA's shitty FIFA port on the switch, there might, MIGHT, be a future non-shitty FIFA port. It won't happen though.

        Difference being, this time they have the proper tools to port games. They are using the same game engines as the mightier consoles. People say the graphics will be shit but the PSVita wasn't too bad and this is undoubtedly more powerful. Graphical prowess isn't the switchs forte, portability among other great things is, but even so I think it will perform nicely in the graphics department.

    If the Switch gets more multiplatform games then I'll be doing a mental calculation on if it's worth the sacrifice in graphics and framerate (and possibly online services) in order to get portability.

    Man, I hope the Switch is a big success, the industry needs a healthy Nintendo making siiick games. Also, it's always amusing to watch all the haters backpedal.

      Eh... Nintendo is quite capable of making slick games for third party systems (they mastered Unreal engine recently!) Breath of the Wild would sell a whole lot more if it went PC/Xbox/PS4. Nintendo could easily be a 2K or an Ubisoft if it gave up proprietary hardware.

      That said, I don't expect things to change. Nintendo gonna Nintendo and potter along with the odd shot of bottled lightning in amongst the weird and wonderful business decisions it makes.

        nintendo invented everything to do with console gaming. I certainly don't want them out of the picture, not innovating and taking the risks the big players won't even attempt. The big two just copy and do it better most of the time.

        D-Pad, game pad, shoulder buttons, rumble in the controller, analogue joysticks, motion control, portables, screened controller etc.... all nintendo innovations that were taken on by their competitors (except screened controller.....though I wish). To wish a company like that away is pure idiocy.

        Last edited 08/02/17 11:26 am

    Iʼd say that it would take less than a year for them to port a PC game to Nintendo Switch.

    That's a really really long time actually. We do a lot of ports of Nintendo/XBOX/PS titles -> Steam a lot, and the timeframe is usually a month to get the basics working, and another couple of months to iron out all the bugs to a releasable state. Going the other way is always more difficult of course, but I think a year for a port is on the high side.

    Nintendo's tools have always been generally "incompatible" with how Western devs work - they had their own (buggy) IDE, their own versions of programming languages (both CPU and GPU), their own methods of communicating with the hardware that required specific versions of Windows to be installed and so on.. Although admittedly, I haven't worked with the Wii-U environment, so perhaps things have changed. Certainly, if Unity and Unreal support Switch, then there's hope things are genuinely better now I guess.

      Yeah, I laughed when I read that. Indies are the only ones likely to do it.

      I think it means that in a year there will be some way of doing it really simply.

      Worded better "In a year, you will be able to port PC games to Switch really easily".

      the timeframe is usually a month to get the basics working, and another couple of months to iron out all the bugs to a releasable state. What you're saying is that your experience is congruent with Nintendo's statement of "less than a year"?

    How to port Unity games to Switch
    1. Go to Project Settings
    2. Go to Quality Settings
    3. Set all quality settings to lowest possible

    Can't wait to play a 6 year old PS360 title and some iPhone games.


      though by that same reasoning, people are unsarcastically waiting for those 10-20yo snes, 64, GC titles though I understand your point and am too hoping that that isn't the way of early titles.

        People frothing and paying $8/$15/$20 for VC games is so ludicrous in my books. I played the hell out of them when I was a kid and have emulators for nostalgia. Maybe if VC was cross console compatible (they remembered your library) and was cheaper I'd be into it... it's highway robbery.

        And yes, skyrim on switch... wow.

      And at a premium price too, that will never ever get cheaper.

    The thing is, large publishers don't want interesting new tech to make special snowflake games. They want to make one game, market the fuck out of it then put in the least amount of effort to release it on as many platforms as possible in order to make as much money as possible.
    It is sad that a lot of 3rd party developers that Nintendo are trying to entice often fall under the AAA publisher moniker, the large faceless entity that is a profit focused corporate engine (not the ohhh the corporations are out to control the world corporate, just the regular one that you can't seem to use without offending these days).
    Few and far between are the instances of those publishers, either themselves directly or via an indy or small development team making a business choice that is about artistic integrity or passion for their product that isn't also directly tied to making money. Against the grain, a few of those projects have released recently. Steep from Ubisoft for example started off as a passion project that managed to fill a niche and perform well, against expectations. Resident Evil 7 is an unexpected return to the roots of what made the first half of the series good and has surprised the hell out of capcom that it is generating large sums of money. Bravely Default and I am Setsuna were released counter to the goals of their publisher overlords because "people don't like turn based rpg's anymore", even though they do, and we have been hanging out for a title that tickled that itch.

    Given that stance of many publishers, I am cautiously optimistic about the future of the switch. There are innovations sure, but at its core it is a standard console that can be developed for in a similar way to the other big players in the market. We can all but be assured that Nintendo will release some quality games on it but, at least for the Wii and Wii U, publishers were afraid of the potential for loss as they would likely be creating something that would only target a small percentage of a market. Now that the field has leveled I am hopeful.

      I think its further than that though - the different platforms have mostly lost their meaning from a development view, with all but the most esoteric studio deliberately targeting a single system. Switch forces these devs to almost make two different games now.


      Last edited 08/02/17 11:12 am

    Switch will be another Wii U unless Nintendo turns it into the 3DS successor as well.

    I think this will happen.

      It most likely will, but they don't want people to drop the 3DS just yet so they're not saying it will replace it, at this stage.

      Switch will have to drop in price by about 40% for that to happen.

    Just give us Rocket League and I'll be happy.

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