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Last gen was a real tragic time for independent developers trying to break into the console space and onto game consoles. It had all sorts of crazy certification, process, operating, licensing and royalty fees that would make members of the RIAA blush with envy. This gen is a little different. This gen, indie game developers are getting a little extra support from the console manufacturers.
GoNintendo caught a tweet from Canadian game developer, Brian Provinciano, the guy responsible for Retro City Rampage, the open-world GTA-style game that took consoles and PC by storm last year. What did Provinciano have to tweet? Well, the following...
FUN FACT: Every developer on Wii U gets a free Unity license and can self-publish, thus keeping all revenue & no pitching, no negotiation.— Brian Provinciano (@BriProv) June 27, 2013
The free Unity license would be a great help in game development for a small studio, as it can run a studio up to a a thousand bucks a year, which is chump change for AAA studios but money out of the coffers for up-starts and outlets operated by a handful of people.
There are some interesting comments on Reddit that offer some insight into previous process of making games for a console, but it's worth noting that it should all be taken with a grain of salt. While there is a standard process in place not every developer runs into the same hurdles that other developers run into.
Some individuals, however, lamented the requirement of picking up a Wii U dev kit for $7,000 in order to justify a free license for the Unity game engine, but it sure does beat the $500,000 price tag attached to the PS3 dev kit, eh?
Also, I imagine this lowered-barrier of entry will make development on the Wii U look more enticing for established indie outlets as opposed to just-starters and I-just-quit-my-day-job-to-become-an-indie-developer enthusiast.
It appears Nintendo is dialing down some of the roadblocks in order to accommodate the actual growth of gaming. And while there are a minor group of detractors, the main goal Nintendo is trying to reach is an elevation of both quality and creativity. I think they're going about it the right way, potentially in hopes of spurring some of the ingenuity that helped fuel the success of the original SNES back in the 90s.
There are already some indie devs making good on the eShop viability, but now I'm interested to see how developers make good on Unity's collaboration with Nintendo.
One thing is for certain: I'm thoroughly convinced that next-gen won't be won with the casuals and the gimmicks, but whoever can secure that winning indie game that becomes the next DayZ, Journey or Minecraft.