Nintendo’s relationship with indie developers has been thawing out recently. In the last two years, it’s promoted indie games through Humble Bundle and opened up its developer portal, but in the past it’s also refused to let the head of its indie team speak to the press, and doesn't generally fund indie developers in the way Sony or Microsoft are.
But this year, Nintendo seems to be stepping up to the plate with its indie support. Yesterday the company announced the Nindies Summer Jam, a sales and launch promotion event for the Nintendo eShop that spotlights a different indie game in the month of September. at 10 percent off for its first week of launch.
This promotion doesn’t just seem to be about a price discount though. The games’ developers have also been invited to curate a special section on the eShop that showcases their favorite games, and share behind-the-scenes stories on the making of their games as well.
There’s two key takeaways from this marketing push. First, it’s the long-awaited summer indie support that senior manager of marketing Damon Baker promised last year in a conversation with Gamasutra. At the time, Baker had described himself as being “green with envy” at Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade and Sony’s Spring Fever promotions (Though this seems to only be a “summer” jam by virtue of global warming pushing a proper autumn further and further back.)
Second, it’s the kickoff of a long slate of indie releases for the autumn and winter that includes both Nindie mainstays like Wayforward Games’ Shantae: Half-Genie Hero and newcomers like ConcernedApe's Stardew Valley.
Given that the NX is possibly due for an official announcement sometime in this period, this promotion could be taken as a sign of what Nintendo wants to show it can do for smaller third-party developers it hopes to attract to its new console due for release next March.
The fact that Nintendo has finally caught up with the seasonal indie promotion effort is an impressive step on its own, and it’s a good sign for developers on the platform that the company is giving them a bigger personal platform than it has in the past.
Hopefully in the future, more indies will have the chance to introduce themselves to Nintendo audiences the way they get to on Sony or Microsoft’s platforms.