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Nintendo draws line between "indie devs" and "hobbyists"

Fils-Aime: "We are not looking to do business today with the garage developer"

Reggie Fils-Aime has said that Nintendo will not be doing any business with what he called "garage developers" in the near future, seemingly underlining the company position set out in Satoru Iwata's GDC keynote earlier this month.

Whilst the Nintendo of America president was keen to point out that Nintendo very much wants to engage with indie devs, he drew an analogy with the music industry to deliniate between small, professional studios and part-time developers, calling them "hobbyists."

"I would separate out the true independent developer vs. the hobbyist," Fils-Aime told Gamasutra. "We are absolutely reaching out to the independent developer. Where we've drawn the line is we are not looking to do business today with the garage developer. In our view, that's not a business we want to pursue.

"Look at the music industry. There are certainly highly talented people who work other jobs and have a passion to be in the music industry. They work at it. There are reality TV shows that revolve around this concept. I love it when there's a game that's found that captures people's imagination, just like that...singer toiling in a factory."

The attitude seems to fly in the face of the efforts of Microsoft's attempts to engage up and coming developers with the likes of XNA and the newly released Kodu. It also seems like something of a contrary position against the background of the success of the App Store.

What it does echo is Iwata's GDC keynote, in which he took a thinly-veiled swipe at Apple and the App Store by insinuating that Apple had not exercised the proper quality control which a responsible platform holder might in order to protect its developers, instead allowing quantity to swamp quality in its market.

"We make platforms designed to demonstrate the high value of high quality videogame software," said Iwata. "But, there is a second, entirely different way to consider the value of software. The objective of smartphones and social networks, and the reason they were created, are not at all like ours.

"These platforms have no motivation to maintain the high value of videogame software - for them, content is something created by someone else. Their goal is just to gather as much software as possible, because quantity is what makes the money flow - the value of videogame software does not matter to them."

Fils-Aime seemed keen to reiterate that in his comments.

"When we talk about the value of software, it could be a great $1 piece of content or a $50 piece of content," he said. "The point is: Does it maintain its value over time or is it such disposable content that the value quickly goes to zero? We want consumers to see value in the software, whatever that appropriate value is. And we want to see that value maintained over time."

It's not a completely isolated stance. Recently both Trip Hawkins and Chair Entertainment's Donald Mustard have passed comment on Apple's quality control policy, although neither in such unrepentant terms.

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Dan Pearson