Nintendo America's former head of digital content discusses setbacks bringing Axiom Verge to Switch, and Switch eShop guidelines

Dan Adelman is the former head of digital content at Nintendo of America. Many people might remember how outspoken Adelman was about some of Nintendo's digital practices. This issue came to a head when Adelman spoke on Twitter about how him and Thomas Happ could have had Axiom Verge on Switch at launch, but Nintendo's process held it back. In an interview with Resetera, Adelman further discusses the subject.

Nintendo had two inconsistent policies that I think in retrospect made life very confusing and frustrating for a lot of people. The first policy was that they were only approving developers who were interested in bringing games that had never released on another system before. The second was that once a developer was approved, that developer could bring whatever game they wanted to the system – including their entire back catalog from other systems.

As a result, there was a mismatch between the rationale we were give for not being approved – because Axiom Verge had already released on other platforms – and what we were seeing on the eShop, which was lots of ports from other systems. It was especially frustrating since we had been asking for access to dev kits more than a year before the system’s launch, and I told them that I knew from experience that they’d have a period after launch where they’d be starved for content. Sure enough, there was a long stretch in those first few months after launch where there were lots of new Switch owners but no new games, which would have been a perfect opportunity for Axiom Verge.

I’m a pretty vocal and passionate guy, so I let my frustrations known in ways that may have been less than productive. (I guess I can be a bit of a Walter Sobchak.) I’ve since sat down with some of my former colleagues and buried the hatchet, so I think we’re all good now.

Categories: Interviews, Consoles
Tags: eshop, switch


They should have been going after quality only in the early days and not console debuts. If a dev had a quality game they could get out quick then why not? Fear of the Switch looking like it only offers mostly ports? Ironic considering Nintendo's current approach...

It's also weird seeing as though they let Shovel Knight on there from the off. I guess the Spectre of Torment DLC being Switch exclusive for a bit was their rationale but seriously?

I think the rationale behind it is that ports - even of high quality games - don't sell systems since they are already available elsewhere (I won't bother to buy a Switch for a game I already have on PS4 or WiiU). Debuts are more enticing.
Now of course that the initial launch period is over they need something to maintain momentum, and ports can provide that. So there's no real irony, just the next step in the evolving lifespan.

And let's be fair: The sales numbers don't really prove their approach wrong, do they?

um, I was never starved for content early on, is he joking?

I told them that I knew from experience that they’d have a period after launch where they’d be starved for content.

The quote sounds speculative based on precedence. Wii U had a very slow first year, without knowing how the Switch will turn out, especially being released on March, it's a fair assumption.

Fair assumption, but then he followed that statement with "and I was right", basically. No, no you weren't, Dan.

After Zelda, what did you have? Mario Kart at the end of April...which was essentially a Wii U port.

Yes, there was Shovel Knight and Fast RMX, but not much else. I'll say Dan wasn't wrong. Luckily the games that were there in the launch window were good enough to ignore that short drought (a quality > quantity situation), and since that drought ended we've been getting a steady stream of quality AAA and indie content. ARMS, Splatoon 2, Sonic Mania, Mario + Rabbids, Mario Odyssey, etc.

Doesn't want devs to make a bunch of ports

[Scumbag Steve Pic here]

Proceeds to release a bunch of ports themselves

Another developer explained that Nintendo didn't want ports in the first six months according to their policies. Those are long over now.

Sounds kind of silly but makes sense considering the first few months of the eshop had almost all new games. That would also explain why after 6 months we all of a sudden had a glut of games coming out each week.

So, all of those ports from other developers that got approved were coming after they had already brought new or exclusive content. He made it sound like Nintendo was allowing other developers to bring ports, but not him. In order to be approved, he would have had to provide something new or exclusive, just like the other developers did. Nintendo was not playing favorites or being bias. Everyone really was subject to the same rules after all.

Tue Mar 13 18 07:52pm
(Updated 1 time)

On the one hand I see what Mr. Adelman is saying. On the other, I actually don’t think it was a bad temporary policy for Nintendo. By not approving developers that only wanted to bring straight ports, they forced those who wanted to be on the eShop early to come with something new (which is an enticing prospect.)

I also remember one way around it was to include Switch exclusive editions or by highlighting different features of the console.

Doesn’t seem to have hurt anything in the long run either way? Switch is doing great and the eShop is thriving. That policy has long since lapsed and indies seem to have nothing but praise for Nintendo as a partner.

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