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Why does Nintendo refuse to embrace the key to its future?

While blockbuster games continue to dominate the market, indie games are more important than ever before, certainly important enough that no gaming company wants to miss out on them. The PC has always been and always will be king of indie gaming for many reasons but that doesn’t mean consoles can’t get in on the market as well, in fact, many would argue that the PlayStation 4’s friendliness towards indie games has been a major reason for its success. The Wii U could do even better with indie games too if it weren’t for Nintendo’s complicated relationship with the market.¬†

Independent games are a cornerstone of Sony’s PlayStation 4 messaging, and a contributing factor to the system’s blockbuster success. They are not for Nintendo — neither for the Wii U, nor the 3DS. An unsurprising strategy given the Japanese company’s reliance on Mario and Zelda, its familiar, first-party franchises. And yet, independent games have had a presence on the company’s digital software channel, the eShop, for almost a decade. Only now, they’re more noticeable. “We’ve been supporting Indie content and self-publishing for a really long time,” says Damon Baker, senior manager of licensing at Nintendo. “I mean, [going] back to the WiiWare, DSiWare days. But I think that it’s just a more visible community because there’s so much talent that’s coming out of it; there’s so much coverage for it that it just makes it naturally higher profile.”¬†Nintendo’s approach to indie games is changing, albeit slowly and methodically as is the company’s way. Major titles like Don’t Starve: Giant Edition (what Nintendo and the game’s maker Klei are calling the “Definitive Edition”) and Octodad: Dadliest Catch will soon be available for download on the eShop. Whether or not that’s due to Sony’s influence on the genre, Baker wouldn’t say. But he maintains an indie push was always part of the strategy for the Wii U. The trouble was getting it done right — the Nintendo way.

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