Here’s how Canadian indie developers feel about the Nintendo Switch

Nintendo’s upcoming Switch handheld-home console hybrid aims to reinvent the traditional concept of a video game platform, similar to how the Japanese gaming giant fundamentally altered the direction of the gaming industry with the launch of the Wii and its ‘waggle’ controls in the mid-aughts.

Similar to every Nintendo home console since the Super Nintendo, third-party developer support — a term that refers to any developer that isn’t, in this case, Nintendo — is important to the system’s future.

“It seems like a gimmick, unsure of what it wants to be” — Raphael Van Lierop

Third-party titles are important to the success of any console and a lack of support from development partners is a significant reason why some of Nintendo’s systems have struggled. The Wii U, Nintendo’s ill-fated attempt at releasing a ‘second screen experience’ video game console, never truly took off despite having arguably the best library of games (as long as you’re a Nintendo fan) in comparison to the PS4 and Xbox One. Titles like Mario Kart 8, Splatoon, Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario Maker, offer innovative experiences that can only be had on the Wii U.

Given the Wii U’s limited hardware power, it’s difficult for developers to bring Xbox One and PS4 games to Nintendo’s current console, resulting in a dearth of third-party titles following the system’s initial release window. It also didn’t help that the Wii U has reportedly sold only approximately 13.5 million units worldwide, giving developers a minuscule install base, especially compared to the PS4 and Xbox. A console can’t survive on first-party titles alone, and Nintendo has proven that fact repeatedly with the N64, GameCube and Wii U (Wii third-party support was abundant).

With the Switch, Nintendo believes it has solved the Wii U’s most significant issues by releasing a console that’s truly portable, but can also be used at home and played on the big screen. The system, however, remains a step behind the PS4 and Xbox One in terms of hardware power, according to early reports, in part due to its custom Nvidia Tegra chipset. While third-party developer support may seem strong at the outset thanks to a deluge of Japanese-developed games like Super Bomberman R, Sonic Mania and I Am Setsuna, it’s unclear if that momentum will continue.

We spoke with several Canadian independent video game developers to gauge their interest in the Switch, as well as to learn how they feel about Nintendo’s future from a broader perspective.

Raphael Van Lierop, Vancouver Island-based co-founder of Hinterland Games, the studio behind Canadian set survival game The Long Dark, feels Nintendo’s Switch is a confusing device with little direction.

“I have no interest in developing for the Switch. It seems like a gimmick, unsure of what is wants to be. Is it a console? Is it a tablet? It is both? I prefer a platform to be focused on doing one thing well,” said Van Lierop in a recent interview with MobileSyrup.

He goes on to say that just like with the Wii and Wii U, bringing a game over to the Switch requires a specific control scheme in order to capitalize on the platform’s strengths. As a PC-focused developer, the Switch’s unique functionality doesn’t make sense for Hinterland.

On the other hand, Alex Rushdy from Toronto-based 13AM Games, the studio behind Runbow, one of the Wii U’s few popular independently developed titles, has an unsurprisingly positive view of the upcoming console, which makes sense given the studio’s previous partnerships with Nintendo.

“Traditionally, Nintendo’s portable machines get more third party support than their home console hardware, and traditionally Nintendo’s home consoles are popular in North America whereas their portables are more popular overseas in Japan. Now that this product appeals to both demographics at once, it’s less risky to develop games for. You no longer have to invest in two separate versions of a game for two machines for two demographics,” said Rushdy, explaining that from his perspective, Nintendo’s Switch ostensibly combines the 3DS and the Wii U into one device.

“I’d love to bring Runbow to the Switch, but I’d like to make new games for it even more,” continued Rushdy, when asked whether or not he has plans to develop for Nintendo’s upcoming console. 13AM Games’ Runbow features a unique colour changing mechanic that has players bounding between platforms in a frantic race.

On the other side of the spectrum Ryan Cash, the co-founder of Toronto-based developer Snowman, the team behind critically acclaimed mobile game Alto’s Adventure, is keen on the Switch, mainly because Nintendo has a history of making video games more accessible, something he feels is important to pushing video games forward as a medium.

“We’re big believers in the idea of making play more accessible, and stretching the boundaries of what a game is. Nintendo’s always been a leader here, and the Switch looks like it’s continuing along this path with its touch screen tablet controller that you can take anywhere you go,” said Cash.

Cash has an interesting analogy when describing his team’s feelings on the Switch, comparing the portable gaming device to a DSLR camera.

“A DSLR isn’t going to replace your phone camera, but when you want to go out and take really spectacular photos, you’ll bring it along. The ability to have gaming experiences like console quality Zelda and Mario titles on the go is really exciting, and as big fans of those series, we can’t wait to play the new titles,” continued Cash, before downplaying the sentiment that the Switch could play a hand in minimizing the popularity of smartphone-based gaming.

Capybara Games Nathan Vella, the developer of Super Time Force and Sword & Sworcery EP, expressed interest in the Switch, stating that he finds Nintendo’s unique take on the traditional video game console “interesting.”

“The Switch is a very different platform, and that in and of itself is interesting. Other consoles are battling it out for the newest high-end hardware, meanwhile Nintendo has ignored that fight entirely and instead decided to create something entirely separate. They’re continuing their trend of blazing their own platform trail, and that’s rad.”

“We’re big believers in the idea of making play more accessible” — Ryan Cash

Vella also feels Nintendo continues to maintain a unique position in the market by appealing to younger players, especially when it comes to the Japanese gaming giant’s marquee franchises.

“Both Sony and Microsoft have their tentpole franchises rated at Teen or higher, which really don’t play well with youngsters. Nintendo is trying to excite both children and adults, and as a new parent I really appreciate that,” said Vella.

Drinkbox Studios’ co-founder Graham Smith, the developer of Guacamelee, arguably one of the best 2D side-scrolling platformers released in the last few ears, says his studio is considering working on Switch titles.

“We’re definitely keeping the Switch in mind for our upcoming games. With the the removable Joy-Con controllers, the Nintendo Switch seems like a very good fit for games that support a local co-op mode. Drinkbox has a few games like this (About a Blob, Guacamelee), and while Nintendo does not really seem interested in ports of older games coming to the system, we will definitely be keeping this aspect of the system in mind for future games,” said Graham.

Graham also feels that unlike many industry observers, third-party support won’t be an issue for Nintendo with the Switch because its internal processing power is more in line with its competitors, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

MobileSyrup is set to go hands-on with the Nintendo Switch at an upcoming event in Toronto. The Nintendo Switch is set to release on March 3rd for $399 CAD.

Comments

  • jplunks

    This is why 3rd party dev are ruining the Video Game market. If you dont want to support gimmicks like motion control, touchscreen, kinect, VR, then you dont have to make your games tied to it.
    Video games have evolved from the Atari to the present day. Yet these dev are stuck in the 5th gen of things.
    Specs specs specs, over gameplay and experience.

    • Not to point out the obvious, but if there were no third-party developers, there would be no video game market. They’re important to the industry, especially Nintendo’s consoles.

    • jplunks

      Which I also would agree on. But they also dictate on how well a console can move. Allbeit the Wii U was an issue, games not graphically intense were not made for the Wii U due to the install base but the install base is controlled by how much support it gets.
      But I guess it’s like SNES/Genesis then turbo graphic 16 or N64/PS1 then Dreamcast.

    • Russ

      Wow, I haven’t thought about the TurboGrafx 16 in years.

      I do find it a little surprising that Mr. van Lierop would rather dismiss the Switch as a gimmick than see the opportunities that come with a variety of control options. Even if a game only uses one control scheme, the Switch seems to invite a lot of creativity, as the Wii did before it.

      I’d love to see the Switch open up to ports of Android games, in which case I’d definitely consider one to replace my aging Samsung Tab S.

    • cantbanthisguy

      “…games not graphically intense were not made for the Wii U due to the install base…”

      Umm, nope. Graphically intense video were not made for the Wii U because the system was severely underpowered and there was no reason to even try and port anything over.

    • jplunks

      That’s what I said tho?

    • cantbanthisguy

      No, you said they Wii U was not being developed for due to the small install base, but the real reason is that it has the power of a leaf blowing in the wind compared to the PS4/XBOne.

      If the Wii U had a modicum of power comparable to it’s competition this generation, I’m sure the developers would have at least gave it a shot.

      They all learned there lesson with the Wii as it had an amazing start, but as that generation rolled on, everyone but Nintendo abandoned it due to sluggish hardware and especially software sales. Even with the Wii’s large install base, the ps3 and 360 sold more games for their systems individually than the Wii did.

    • jplunks

      I said games that were graphically intense did not make it to the Wii U. But games that were not intense on the ps4 and Xbox 1 were not made for the Wii U (when it could have) due to the install base.
      Look at project cars. That game was specifically made for the Wii U when the kick starter started. They got their money and what happen. They got bought by a bigger company and scraped the Wii U for Sony and MS.

    • cantbanthisguy

      “I said games that were graphically intense did not make it to the Wii U.”

      Yes you did, but you said it was because of the install base, not because the system was weak, which was the real reason.

      Project Cars got switched because they couldn’t get it run properly on such an underpowered system, again the real reason other than the install base.

      If the system could play more than just Nintendo games (games like Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Evil Within, RE 7, Witcher, etc, etc…), I’d probably own one as well.

    • jplunks

      Well it has to be on this article or a facebook post in reference to the install base. The install base is due to the 3rd party devs. Devs won’t make games for a due to the install base and the install base doesn’t grow due to devs not making games because of the size. Look at the Wii, games are still making games for it.
      Project cars was NOT to intense for the Wii U as (like I said before) was making the game specifically for the Wii U. So I’m not sure how it was to much for it when there were demo trailers for the Wii U. They were taken advantage of the gamepad to use it as a wheel with the touch as the many options drivers had. Only until it was bought out by a bigger company that it was scrapped saying they are making it for Sony and xb1 that it is now to under powered.
      Games are barely runninv at 1080p 60fps steadily yet more powerful machines are being made to pump of tech they have yet to master

    • cantbanthisguy

      Geez man, you just don’t get it… The reason the install base is so small is that the Wii U, before it was actually released, had it specs shown, and almost ever developer basically said, “WTF!!! This paper weight will barely run a ps3 game! If Nintendo won’t support actual game performance progression, then there is no reason for us to support them I guess…”

      Many games are running solid frame rates with 1080p on the ps4. Played BF1? Uncharted 4? Titanfall 2? Battlefront? Infinite Warfare? NHL ’17?

    • jplunks

      I stopped reading when you said it wasn’t as powerful as the PS3.

    • Performance was not the reason, if Wii U sold 80 million instead of 13 million, than third party support would be there. It’s about selling games and making money more than the game not looking quite as pretty.

    • cantbanthisguy

      But the reason why the Wii U isn’t selling well is that it is severely underpowered compared to it’s competition, of which every 3rd party developer learned their lesson with the Wii as it may have had the best install base of the last gen, but the worst 3rd party software sales of all three, of which that relates to much less profit for them, so why develop for them if there system can’t even sell/run their game, and if that big system selling game isn’t there, then the system will not sell. (best run-on sentence EVER!!!)

      Sure Nintendo has it’s die hards who love Mario games, Zelda, Metroid, and so on, but that will only take you so far nowadays. You need to include the big guys such as CoD, Battlefield, GTA, Star Wars, Dark Souls, Overwatch, top end sports games, etc. etc., and if your system can’t run it, then they won’t port it, then your system will sit on the self.

    • jplunks

      You may want to double check that

    • cantbanthisguy

      I thought you left.

      Double check what? The fact that I’m right? 🙂

    • jplunks

      PS3 had 811 games
      360 had 1182
      Wii 1655

    • Watch out. This is where some games ‘don’t count’ comes out. Like, look at all the books published. Yeah, but some of them or cook books and romance novels. The point is, they have a broad variety of games.

      The Reason the Wii had more games was because people bought them and it made you money to make a Wii game. They made a greater variety of games. To me this increased it’s value. But if you only play sports games and 1st person shooters, there won’t be as many games for YOU. But there were more games for US. I rarely play FPS games or sports games. But they were there.

      The Wii library was broad. The XStation PlayBox had a more narrow set of genres but they had lots of games in those genres. They just didn’t appeal to me. (But they were the best console for other gamers.)

    • cantbanthisguy

      Sure, all the games would count. Why not? Much of it was a diverse amount of wii games that sold for sh!t, that’s for sure. The numbers are the numbers, can’t fake that.

    • cantbanthisguy

      Sold, not made for… Which makes my point even more prominent.

      PS3 sold around 944 million pieces of software
      360 sold even more at around 974 million pieces of software
      Wii came in last at around 909 million pieces of software

      So with my numbers divided by you rnumbers (thanks for that as it really helps my argument 😀 )

      So, avg PER GAME SALE for ps3- 1,170,000
      360- 824,000
      Wii- 550,000

      Now why do you think 3rd party developers are abandoning Nintendo…

    • jplunks

      Where the hell Do you get those false numbers? Keep spreading your false information. You’re only looking like you have zero knowledge of what your talking about

    • cantbanthisguy

      Not false at all. They actually come from the only site tries to keep accurate as possible numbers on all gaming systems.

      http://www.vgchartz. com/weekly/42722/Global/

      Check it out for yourself. Maybe do your research before you enter an argument you are very obviously losing.

    • jplunks

      Riiiight. You may want to check multiple sites and take a look at the comments section here to see of that even checks out. But already have it in your mind so.

    • cantbanthisguy

      Did you even look at the link?

      Nope, just decided to mouth off like a wanker.

      Post links for proof. Oh yeah, you don’t have any or you would’ve posted them.

    • Shawn

      Not to point out the obvious, but if there were no third-party developers, there would be no video game market. They’re important to the industry, especially Nintendo’s consoles.

      He didn’t say they were not important. He said they were ruining the market over their emotional reaction rather than logic and business sense. (I expanded a little there.)

    • Then don’t develop for the Switch? Make PC games? I’m not sure I understand the point you’re trying to make. No publisher or developer is creating a game with out a firm look at how much money they can make off it.

    • Shawn

      I agree that no successful developer or publisher makes choices without looking at the numbers. So the corporate guys or publishers required developers to make games for the Wii because they had to.

      jplunks point was if you don’t want to use motion controls, don’t. Added features for a console should be irrelevant to if you will be porting your game to them.

      Instead, some of these developers who won’t port to the system because they don’t like it are making an emotional decision. Rather than not porting to it for business reasons. (The Wii U was too hard to develop for, it had too small a market, and it would take too much work to optimize for it’s CPU power.) Reasons that are gone or lessened for the Switch.

    • cantbanthisguy

      “Rather than not porting to it for business reasons. (The Wii U was too hard to develop for, it had too small a market, and it would take too much work to optimize for it’s CPU power.) ”

      The Wii U doesn’t have anything resource intensive ported over because the system simply can’t handle it. It just wouldn’t run properly, unless you like 5 fp/s. Also, the ps3 was very hard to develop for but the big 3rd party studios did because it had the power necessary to run the games, unlike the Wii U, which is severely lacking for this generation.

      This argument doesn’t work for you either in the fact that the Wii had a HUGE install base but almost no resource intense games were ported to it due to it being a modified Gamecube in a PS3/360 world.

    • The Wii U doesn’t have anything resource intensive ported over because the system simply can’t handle it.

      Rise of the Tomb Raider, FarCry4, Metal Gear Solid V are available for Xbox 360, an 11-year-old console with 512MB ram and old architecture. If the demand is there they will make it work.

      The Switch has more power than those systems. It can play those games. It’s up to the developers and publishers to choose.

      Since they are already porting their games to the PS3 and Xbox 360, then they can send them to the Switch. But only if the business case supports it. We will have to see how the sales go.

    • cantbanthisguy

      But that is basically over now over isn’t it? You might get the odd one, but that is is it now. There is no demand for the old systems any more. There are very few companies that are willing to port to the old because most of the install base has moved onto the new.

    • I was shocked at how recently they were making these games. The point is, the business case was there to spend the money to make these games for systems that were hard to develop for (PS3) or were substantially less powerful (Xbox 360).

      I remember someone said ‘The Wii cannot handle this game, which is why it’s on the PS3 and Xbox 360’ until someone pointed out it was coming out for the DS as well. I forget which game.

      The point is, they can do. And the Switch is not as hard to work with as previous Nintendo consoles, and comes with middleware that runs well on it, making porting that much easier.

      It all depends on customers.

  • Smanny

    The Nvidia SoC that they are using is most likely fast enough to support streaming of games like the Nvidia shield. If Nintendo can bring steam games as well to the Switch, then they will definitely have a winner on their hands. Also since it is coming with a USB-C port, then they could introduce a USB-C VR headset in the future.

    If Nintendo can fulfill these things, then they can take my money.

  • jaybon4

    Lets not forgot Nintendo has lots of 2nd party developers all of which have not shown the games they are working on for the switch.

    • I wouldn’t be so sure of that. If Nintendo had anything big to show off, it’s likely they would have discussed it during their reveal.

    • Fitzberth Powell

      false if you show absolutely everything in 1 day the rest of the year becomes stale even when you already know stuff comes.

    • Yet that’s what every video game company has done at E3 for all eternity.

    • Shawn

      When the Wii had their big press reveal they only showed cames you could buy within the next 6 months, if I recall correctly.

      Also, this hasn’t been shown at E3 yet. So you cannot really use that as a guide. But who knows what will happen. Sometimes Nintendo has a wild card. Sometimes they are just wild.

    • Shawn

      I wouldn’t be so sure of that. If Nintendo had anything big to show off, it’s likely they would have discussed it during their reveal.

      No, he shouldn’t be so sure of that. But you also shouldn’t be so sure they would. In fact, it was surprising they didn’t talk at all about Mario Kart 8. I would not be surprised of future announcements of games coming out this year. Or, if this is actually it.

    • jaybon4

      GDC 2017 is also on Feb 27th and they’ve confirmed a presence and they might want to or need to save some things for e3 depending on how much they have hidden. If you’re right though and they really don’t have anything then they will be in big trouble convincing people that aren’t Nintendo fans to pick up a switch

    • Fair enough! That’s true. I forgot GDC is just around the corner.

  • gommer strike

    Ok so does Nintendo have a great online store where these indies can show off their games and people can buy with an easy 1-click press? They will, right?

    And how do these indies plan to advertise?

    • Nintendo’s eShop is decent, though it places more of an emphasis on retro games rather than independently developed titles. The Switch will have a similar store. Advertising really isn’t a thing for indie devs from what I’ve seen (game’s that are good typically spread via word of mouth).

    • Shawn

      I’m going to push back on this just a little bit. We don’t actually know what the new store is like. The Switch was lead by many much younger developers and product managers than before. So the eShop might be very different. Unless you have specifically heard different. So far as I know they have not talked about the VC or eShop at all.

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  • monsterduc1000

    This is going to fail BIG TIME!!!

  • Nintendo … bring back:

    DonkyKong renewed Original in 3D or a competely new difficult yet fun title and gameplay … Mario is getting far too old and over used!

    StarCraft would be GREAT for Switch Mobile parties of 8!

    Metroid!! GameCube had incredible titles Prime and Echo’s … but on Wii with nunchuks really brought use of the cannon firing to realism. Update this title and story line to work with JoyCon’s and you have a winner for Home and at 8 console wars that are stationary!!
    – even include a minimized Metroid Ball maze and action scene when mobile!!

    Contra!!!

  • monsterduc1000

    Titanfall developer Respawn on if it will port it’s game to the switch.

    “F#ck no! No, you’re not going to be able to fit Titanfall 2 on the Nintendo Switch.”

    Lmao!

    And this is why the Switch is going to tank. It will get minimal third party support.

    • Rev0lver

      You going to make the same comment again tomorrow or are you done?

    • monsterduc1000

      This is different (maybe not to an obtuse mind like yours) in the sense that I first iterated the switch would fail because it is a complete joke in the computing department, and this confirms that great development studios outside of craptendo will basically shun it.

      So no, I’m not done Mr. Douche

    • Rev0lver

      What a well thought out, rational response….

      Pretty proud of that junky 12 year old bike…..

    • monsterduc1000

      Thanks!

      And yeah, I love my old Ninja 🙂 (CREEP!). Mint condition, more power than the Craptendo B!tch, and a much better ride than your wife/gf/mom, that’s for sure.

    • Rev0lver

      Ha. Very mature Bro.

      Do the Dew! Doritos for all!

    • monsterduc1000

      Definitely not your, “bro”. Only douches say, “bro”, creep.

      And I figured you were a fat, heart attack creep, drinking dew and eating doritos while thumbing your taint at your keyboard. Typical.

    • Rev0lver

      Ha. Thanks bro.

      You sir are a gentleman and a scholar!

    • monsterduc1000

      No problem, Douche. No problem at all.

      Was that an earthquake I just felt? Did your 500 lbs a*s just keel over and shake your mommas basement like you shake your tub-o-jello?

    • Rev0lver

      No bro. No basements in a double wide.

      You’re obviously very intelligent, I’d like to hear some more of your insightful musings.

    • monsterduc1000

      True. I am very intelligent 🙂

      I should of realized you are trailer park trash, living off welfare, voting for Trudeau and suckling on mommas teet.

    • Rev0lver

      Yep bro. Voted for Trudeau twice! It’s called social assistance and what I do with my mother is no business of yours.

      Thanks bro. Keep proving how intelligent and mature you are. Keep the zingers coming.

    • monsterduc1000

      Figured, double douche, probably from KAYBECK as well. Tabernacle! Probably a pedo as well. I think I’ll forward your profile and ip to the Gendarmerie. Let them see if you have kiddy porn on your computer.

    • Rev0lver

      Oui je parle Francis

    • monsterduc1000

      Good ole Francis. How is he doing?

    • Rev0lver

      Keep up the good work friend. You’re certainly showing how intelligent and mature you are. You’re showing me big time.

    • monsterduc1000

      Yes, I know.

      Or should I parle Francis?

    • Rev0lver

      What you do in the privacy of your own bedroom is no business of mine.

    • monsterduc1000

      Ok Francis

      I do your wife in my bedroom by the way. Still no Ninja.

    • Rev0lver

      Thanks for the laughs! I needed that this morning.

      Stay classy!

  • Shogun

    This console is dead on arrival and really its high time Nintendo packed it in with their hardware adventures. Their glory days are over but they do have a future as a developer of content for other mobile platforms.

    • cantbanthisguy

      Yup.

      Respawn Studio basically said it’s a piece of garbage saying, “F#ck no! No, you’re not going to be able to fit Titanfall 2 on the Nintendo Switch.”

      They also said it’s, “so underpowered”.

      Time to hang it up Craptendo 🙂

  • cantbanthisguy

    Check away.

    http://www.vgchartz. com/weekly/42722/Global/

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