Nintendo’s latest Nindies presentation had games for players of all kinds but was underscored by a larger issue. Join Screen Critic Joe explore it further.
Nintendo’s latest presentation, focused on indie titles for the Switch, showcased 20 interesting titles coming to support Nintendo’s young console. As indies on the Switch, dubbed Nindies, play an important role because of the lack of major third party support, it is pleasant to see Nintendo highlighting niche titles and putting smaller development teams in the limelight. While new titles are always phenomenal, long time followers of the Switch may be wondering where all the titles are that Nintendo showed in their first Nindie presentation back in February. This radio silence on Nintendo’s part is indicative of the House of Mario’s inexperience with indie games.
In a vacuum, Nintendo had a great presentation with a large variety of genres coming to Switch. Not a ton piqued my interest personally, but the presentation had a ‘something for everyone’ vibe that always feels affirming. The major issue I have stems from the lack of follow up on titles from the February indies presentation. Of the 17 titles unveiled in February, 7 have released onto the Switch. Of the remaining 10 titles, only two or three have solid release dates, not just windows (at the time of writing). Three of the undated titles come from developer Chucklefish, who have been giving updates about their hotly anticipated titles like Stardew Valley and Wargroove, but one wouldn’t know it unless they were closely following Chucklefish themselves. Nintendo has been hush about these gems.
And therein lies the error. It’s hard to get excited for new titles when Nintendo hasn’t given any sort of updates for the darlings that were shown earlier this year. By going silent on some fantastic looking games, it fosters a sense of disbelief that Nintendo is truly supporting these indie developers. Instead, it is hard to shirk the feeling that Nintendo is simply using indie developers to fluff up their console. Sony, or even Microsoft, could get away this because they both get the big AAA third party games, but since the Switch lacks those key titles, indies are really all they have, and they should be treating each title with more respect. A breadth, not depth approach feels like the wrong way to go, especially when it affects those creators that are already supporting your new console.
Of the 20 titles shown today, SteamWorld Dig 2 was the only title to have been previously shown (and was given a release date of September 21). That leaves 9 more unreleased indies from February that Nintendo is likely going to let release quietly with little fanfare if the already released titles are any indication. In fact, of the 7 titles since released from the February presentation, I could only think of 4 off the top of my head. Nintendo is showing publishers that they will be treated as flashes in the pan and won’t get much support once it’s time for release. But beyond the disingenuous feeling that stems from the previous presentation, it’s hard to believe that Nintendo won’t pull the same shady stunt with the latest presentation. Outside of SteamWorld Dig 2, only one other title has a solid release date (Yono and the Celestial Elephants on October 12). The other 18 titles have vague release dates at best and it would be just as easy for those titles to fly under the radar.
Nintendo is doing a fantastic job getting the right indies to come over to Switch and to let players know that they are indeed coming to the platform. While it appears that Nintendo understands the importance of indies, especially in the Big N’s unique situation, it hardly seems like they are treating them with the reverence they probably deserve, at least from a consumer standpoint. The position Nindies are in currently is by no means a bad one, but a lot more could be done to improve how indies on Switch are marketed and released on Nintendo’s end.
But how do you feel about the Nindies on Switch? What have been some of your favorite indie games on the hybrid system? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to check out more of our Nintendo content here.