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Nintendo platforms lagging behind in developer support
Nintendo platforms lagging behind in developer support
February 28, 2013 | By Staff

February 28, 2013 | By Staff
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    29 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Only 4.6 percent of developers are currently working on a Nintendo Wii U game, according to the Game Developers Conference's 2013 State Of The Industry survey, which polled North American game developers.

This compares to the 13.2 percent who are currently developing a game for Xbox 360, and the 13 percent who are working on a game for the PlayStation 3.

And only 6.4 percent of the surveyed developers said that they plan to make their next game for the Wii U, while 14 percent are planning to target Xbox 360, and 12.4 percent for PS3.

Nintendo is lagging behind when it comes to dedicated handhelds as well. While 4.2 percent of those developers surveyed said they are currently working on a PS Vita game, only 2 percent said they're currently developing a 3DS game.

Furthermore, around 45 percent of respondents said they're interested in making games for TV-connected PC consoles (such as Valve's Steam Box) at some point, while 37 percent said they'd like to developer for Android home consoles like Ouya and GameStick.

In comparison, only 13 percent expressed an interest in developing for the Wii U, while just 5 percent want to make a game for the 3DS. Next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony fared better, with 29 percent and 27 percent of respondents interested respectively.



Additionally, the graph below shows which platforms developers plan to make their next game for, after they're done with their current game:



The Game Developers Conference polled more than 2,500 North American game developers who attended the conference in 2012 or plan to attend GDC 2013 in March about their development practices, revealing several notable trends with regards to platforms, money, team sizes and more.

The GDC intends to field a similar survey each winter, in advance of the conference in San Francisco.

Organized by the UBM Tech Game Network, GDC 2013 will take place March 25-29 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

You can check out all the information from this year's State Of The Industry Survey here on Gamasutra.

Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Tech.


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Comments


Joe Zachery
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While I didn't expect much when it comes from Western developers. Who seem to have it out for Nintendo for years now. I do find it funny that by one percent that they would rather make a Vita game than a 3DS game. Now we can see developers only care about power, and don't think practically when it comes to smart business decisions.

Mike Murray
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I wish this poll included all territories. Also, this poll is really limited to mostly indie devs who are not likely to develop for home consoles because of the costs.

John Gordon
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I got a good laugh when I read that more developers are working on Vita games than 3DS games. This report might actually mean something for home consoles, but so much of what is done on handhelds comes from Japanese companies. Are we really to believe that the Vita is going to have twice as many games as the 3DS?

Dave Long
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This poll is horrendously misleading - if it's polling headcount, then clearly it's going to have more indies than larger developers, as indies will send a far larger proportion of their total staff to GDC than larger studios. Accordingly, the results will be biased towards indie developer practice, hence Vita has nearly 30% GDC attendance support than 3DS (as Vita is far more open to indies), but mobile/tablet, PC and browser are by far the most popular platforms (being the three most open and indie-friendly). I don't think anyone in their right mind would suggest that there are a third more studios devving for Vita than 3DS (although imo there should be, but that's personal preference - hard fact is that there are more games, selling more, on 3DS).

Hence, the headline is inaccurate and tabloid - a GDC survey does not show developer support, it shows 'GDC audience interest by headcount but not resources'. This may be a very partial indicator of something, but it sure as hell isn't total developer support.

Merc Hoffner
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While what you're saying is probably fully right, I'd also point out that 6 months ago Sega had 3 games in the pipe for 3DS and 17 for the Vita. The GDC attendance certainly ain't representative of the industry, but there's still a massive failure of basic logic in the industry at large. There has been for a while, and maybe that's why so much of the industry is in financial turmoil. Sega's just ahead of the curve.

Brandon Sheffield
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It's not polling headcount of studios - these are individual responses, so it actually is pretty representative. Everyone was talking about what their companies were working on, and some 37% of responses were from folks working at companies of over 50 people in size, which leaves out the kinds of indies you're talking about. In fact, with people from larger companies responding, you would expect the numbers to be *inflated* in favor of console development, because, since these are individual responses, each person working on a Wii U title at EA would check the "yes" box, here.

So this really is a rather damning statistic.

(and if you're wondering where I got those numbers, I compiled the survey)

Dave Long
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Aye brandon, but (and I may not have made this clear enough in the original post), you'll likely only get a few people from a big studio turning up at GDC, while you'll get maybe 50-100% of the staff of an indie being in attendance - so while it's a headcount measure, you're measuring a far greater proportion of the total staff in the indies relative to the big studios (unless you believe that studios of 50 and over only make up 37% of total employment in development, which I'd find very hard to believe - not least as it would suggest that indie developers are incredibly inefficient at producing content).

When you compiled the survey, did you collect the organisation the people worked for, and its size? If so, those results would be much more informative. Either way, I stand by my argument that the poll reflects GDC audience rather than industry interest - there are plenty of reasons that indies would have a greater interest in turning up to GDC than employees of larger studios.

Dave Long
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Sorry - put statistically, what you've done is to assume that a headcount of the audience of GDC is an unbiased, representative sample of developer support in the gaming industry (props for stating it's just in NA - many gamasutra articles don't outline the scope of their stats near well enough). I'd say this is a pretty 'brave' assumption, and yet there's no discussion of this at any point, just the assumption that the assumption is sound enough to based the analysis on (which I personally don't think it is - but you'd need to do an industry-wide survey and then a GDC survey to determine whether or not this was the case).

David Holmin
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As long as those 4.6% are guys like WayForward, I'll be alright.

Thom Q
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So 45,37% off all developers are now working on a steambox title? And 49.12% will be making a PC game next. Can I assume that these are the same, since in the first graph there is no PC/Mac category, and no Steambox in the 2nd..

Brandon Sheffield
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no, 45% are interested in the steambox as a new market.

Thom Q
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Ahh yeah i see. But still, no one is interested in the PC market?

Sean Francis-Lyon
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That is a graph of interest in *NEW* markets.

Cordero W
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I would be grateful to make a game for the Wii U. I have so many ideas that I want to use that gamepad for. It sucks to be a nobody right now.

Joseph Anthony B. A. Tanimowo-Reyes
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Odd, I heard that the restrictions were loosened so much that anyone can become a Wii U developer so long as they've released at least one other game.

Tyler Shogren
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Complicated data, but woe to the big devs/pubs that write off this truth.

Although I wouldn't put it past Ninty to somehow subsist on tablet peripheral sales.

Kujel Selsuru
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I'd love to develop a game for either 3DS or Wii U but sadly I don't have the resources so I'll stick to PC and Ouya.

PS: this is just a thought but maybe the reason these developers aren't interested in Nintendo platforms is it will be much harder to sell their poorly designed and built games when Nintendo itself turns out very polished and often very fun games.

Dave Long
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This PS is a bit odd - other platforms have at least as many games that are as good as the range of Nintendo exclusives - but developers have no trouble selling games on them. It's far more likely that 'Nintendo gamers' are a bit more narrow in the type of experiences that they're looking for.

Leon T
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This really isn't shocking news at all. The DS vastly outsold the PSP but the Vita got/gets better Western dev support than the 3DS. The Wii vastly outsold the other home consoles , but the Wii U mainly gets late last gen ports from third parties.

Joshua Hawkins
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I kinda feel like next gen might be the "death" of big publishers (by death I mean giant dent). Smaller studios can fill in more more markets w/ more diversity, and it's very hard to predict what's going to be hot next gen. I hope there's still a place for AAA titles though.

As far as vita vs nintendo publishing it's not surprising. Same potential market less competition.

Merc Hoffner
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This gen made a big dent. They didn't learn anything from it though.

Vita vs Nintendo isn't surprising. But the markets are patently not the same. It's in the range of a 7 fold install difference and a similar 7 fold software sales difference. Who knows where digital sales are but for the first time Nintendo doesn't appear to be selling through super poorly and Sony doesn't appear to be selling through super well. Compound that with, if I understood this survey right, a 2:1 excess in people developing games and bear in mind that Vita development must be substantially more expensive (though I suppose 3DS dev kits could be very dear, but someone better informed could fill us in), and we're looking at something like a 14-fold per unit disparity in invested manpower.

As for competition, well, wouldn't the numbers directly suggest that there's substantially more competition from software rivals on Vita than on 3DS? In terms of actual sales, Nintendo may eat a lot of the pie on 3DS, but then isn't that true for the mere handful of marquee titles on Vita? And if you're fighting for the dregs, then aren't the dregs of 29 million more attractive than the dregs of 4 million? Quite frankly, can any game of any scale on Vita reasonably expect to sell through break even numbers without a silly high relative attach ratio? Android ports perhaps. But hey, it's all ARM, isn't it?

But still, it's not surprising. It was a similar issue with DS and PSP, and Wii and everything else.

Marvin Papin
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In some words : Smartphones = flooded, "I don't think this is nteresting that much."

Garrett Thompson
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Doesn't surprise me too much.

The Xbox 360 and PS3, developers have had seven years or so of practice working with the development kits thereof. At the moment, it's probably just easier to develop for those more familiar consoles. The WiiU is new, and developers are still figuring out the right way to develop for it. Once the small percent of developers that ARE working on titles for the WiiU tap into something special, innovative, or lucrative, then we can start comparing interest.

Certainly it's noteworthy that developers seem to be more interested in the PS4 and the next console from Microsoft, but that could also be attributed to familiarity. The PS4 looks like it's still using the same controller the PS1 used with a bunch of extra features stapled on. I can't speak for Microsoft, but I doubt they'll drastically alter their already near-perfect controller enough for it to make a difference.

> End Nintendo-fanboy defense.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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What programming languages can you make games on the Wii U with? Where do you even begin?

I downloaded XNA on my PC and that seems to be easy enough. Modding some engine seems easy enough. But starting from scratch?

Joseph Anthony B. A. Tanimowo-Reyes
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Wii U devkits contain Unity, so I'd assume that C# and Unityscript are supported.

Jorge Ramos
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This has been a long-running paradox. Counting from the Nintendo64, this has been a paradox going for four generations of console hardware now. Many third parties will obviously want to make something for nintendo given the audience size and the install base. Users of such usually stick to first party titles because most third party titles end up not being that good. Then much effort for the rest of a console cycle for nintendo hardware gets put on the backburner... cycle repeats.

Save for a few exceptions, this seems to be the rule. Many nintendo fans don't go for third party titles because many of them turn out awful, or are obvious and pretentious cash-ins. All while many obvious ideas for successful games that would make sense with the power there is are clearly ignored.

It practically begs for something more significant to happen to change it around.

Mike Kasprzak
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I can't find Commodore 64 on that list! ;)

Brad Borne
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Uh, their loss? I'm sitting here with nothing else to buy for the system. I'm WAY more likely to take a chance with a purchase now for the Wii U than any other system.

And with off TV play, I'm way more likely to actually finish a game.

Matt Cratty
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That was the most depressing list I've ever seen.

As a PC gamer, I want to puke.


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