So I was looking at my post…from a year ago, ouch…and realized that Sony and Nintendo actually did great jobs of exhibiting at GDC this year.
Nintendo had a real story for indie developers. A person at their booth was happy to describe and show off their new Web Framework for getting content on the Wii U. He showed me the API, walked me through getting a simple app onto a Wii U controller, and then showed drawing content on the main Wii U screen too. Showed me the actual html/js code–in Sublime Text no less.
Fantastic! Finally some news I can use: Here’s how to develop for our platform. Please do so. Awesome.
Sony did something similar, they had an indie developer at their booth explaining how he got their small PSM game up & running in a few days with the new C# framework. Then I talked to a developer relations person who was happy to explain how things work and how they’re opening up their programs.
Again: fantastic! First-hand account from a real developer running a small shop. Here’s what it’s like developing for our platform. Please do so.
Thanks Sony & Nintendo! I hope your GDCs were productive.
GDC ended last week, and something that was bothering me finally crystallized: why do platform owners exhibit at GDC?
Or more specifically: Why do Sony and Nintendo exhibit at GDC? What are their goals for being there?
Take Nintendo’s booth: they had stations with a dozen or so 3DSes set up to play new games, like Kid Icarus, Metal Gear Solid, etc. Great, but: why? Are they trying to get game developers to buy 3DS hardware?
Because frankly, as a developer, playing other people’s work for 5 minutes does little to convince me to develop to the platform. My burning should-I-developer-games-for-this-platform question isn’t “What games are available?”, it’s more like “How well will my game sell?”.
So I tend to ask questions like:
What does the digital store look like?
How long does it take the store to load?
How many clicks/taps does it take to make a purchase?
What payment methods does the store accept?
Does the store support In-App Purchases?
How frequently do owners of the platform purchase games, compared to other platforms?
What kind of data/metrics will I get on my users?
How can I promote my games and link to the store?
What are your plans for improving the store experience?
Booth people hate these questions. But this is exactly the stuff I care about, and should be on the tip of their tongues. I have no interest in watching/playing a driving game on the latest tablet…but would happily watch a 5-minute video showing off the storefront, if it answered the above questions. I realize that booth internet connections are troublesome at best, so put together a video!
The IGF nominees are at the show. Most developers with digitally distributed games are at the show. The digital games on handheld Sony/Nintendo platforms are basically competing with high-end Apple & Android games. So explain how these platforms are great for developers!
Also: everyone at the booth should be ready to talk to a real live developer, or know exactly who in the booth is capable of doing so. It shouldn’t involve referrals to multiple confused booth people, or a dismissive “that’s a business thing, ask someone over there” brush-off.
Perhaps these platforms have plenty of developers already…maybe they don’t need any more folks writing games for their platforms…or they feel like they’ve already scheduled appointments with any developer worth speaking to…or any questions developers might have are being answered at a sponsored session.