Gaming giant Nintendo has typically stood alone. In the past few months, that status quo has changed and independent game developers have been able to stand on their shoulders. Most recently was the announcement that Nintendo and indie developer Yacht Club Games would be releasing an amiibo–Nintendo’s version of the toys-to-life craze–of Yacht Club’s popular Shovel Knight character. Physical merchandise for an independent game on store shelves is an unprecedented move, especially considering Nintendo’s past with indies.
At the time of the massively popular Wii, indie developers had their first chance to get their games on a Nintendo platform via the online WiiWare service. Unfortunately, the company did not make it easy for developers, due to decisions such as a sales threshold Nintendo put in place for the service, meaning that if a developer’s game did not hit a certain number of sales, they would not get paid at all.
With Nintendo’s next generation of hardware, the Wii U and 3DS, the company made baby steps toward welcoming indies. The new Nintendo eShop offered a handful of exclusive games by popular developers like Broken Rules and WayForward at launch. Not only were these games easily available on the service, but they were also featured on the eShop’s main page.
2015 has been the peak of Nintendo’s relationship with indie game developers. On Twitter, Nintendo of America has promoted new indie games and announced special indie-related deals like free demos. The company’s social media channels have come to affectionately refer to Nintendo indie developers as “Nindies,” and fans have embraced the moniker. This past month, Nintendo put a good deal of online marketing behind eShop-exclusive Runbow, a frantic party game by developer 13AM Games, featuring a full cast of characters crossing over from other popular Nindie titles.
When the company launched their Super Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot poll in May, they gave fans worldwide the opportunity to vote for what video game character they would like to see next in the popular fighting game series. Shovel Knight immediately became one of the front runners. Now that the character has his own amiibo–which is being released concurrently with Nintendo’s line of Smash Bros. models–discussion about Shovel Knight in Smash has reached a fever pitch. Nintendo fans are clearly excited that the company is collaborating with small, up-and-coming game makers.
Feature photo courtesy of Neon Tommy.