Nintendo's Damon Baker is the man to talk to if you want to get your game on the Switch eShop. He's helped facilitate hundreds of developers in getting their games to the platform, and many have been met with great success. In the interview snippets below, Baker talks to Kotaku about the eShop games resonating with fans, the process of getting your game on Switch, and even consideration for third parties and Nintendo Labo in the future.
Kotaku: Switch has been out for a year now. Has Nintendo’s thought process about what kinds of games it wants on the platform changed?
Damon Baker: Not exactly. It’s still about quality, first and foremost. But I think we have a better understanding of what is resonating on the system. I think we know that we can tap into—a Nintendo Switch fan is gravitating towards a sense of nostalgia. They’re really digging the types of games and experiences that are heavily inspired by the games that they grew up with. Or certain types of genres, like the platformers or Metroidvanias or any of those styles. Or it’s also, you know, kind of a nostalgic slant on the graphics—pixelated or retro-styled graphics.
Kotaku: When the Switch launched, I think that if you were an indie developer and Nintendo returned your emails and you got a dev kit and you got your game on Switch, you were really happy with the whole process. If you were on the other side of that and Nintendo was, like, well, this isn’t what we’re looking for right now or we can’t give you a dev kit right now, you were pretty bummed about the whole process. There still seem to be some developers who say ‘our game can’t get on Switch.’ What’s the situation with that now?
Baker: I think the best way to explain it is, over the last year we have been evolving past what was initially more of a curated content position to now a curated partnership position. So part of the pitch process for new developers or new publishers who come on board with Switch is to not just pitch us a brand new game or a brand new concept, but to use that opportunity to prove their background, their aptitude as a developer and whether they’re going to be able to navigate through what can be a complicated process of going through the development cycle, and certification, and all of that. So that’s part of our evaluation.
I can’t really disclose all of our guidelines, but I can tell you that those partners that are able to instill a level of trust and confidence in us that they’re going to be very capable of getting through the development process and are knowledgeable about bringing content out on consoles, those are the ones that are resonating in terms of bringing that content out and it doing well on the system. Some of those developers do have a negative reaction or are bummed because we haven’t opened up the door to hobbyists or students at this time. But one day, we may. We may be going towards that direction. But for now, we’re still staying the course in terms of a closed dev environment for Switch.
Kotaku: With Labo, Nintendo is about to redefine what the Switch is, and what you use it for. Right now, Labo is two first-party games. Is it a platform that other developers might be able to make stuff with at some point?
Baker: It could be. I mean, I think it’s similar to Amiibo. If it resonates with a bigger community, and there’s a bigger installed base, and it ends up working really really well, then we’ll definitely have those conversations from a third-party perspective of, what makes sense, and if there’s a way to tap into that excitement as well. So, anything’s possible.