Image & Form liken the Nintendo eShop to “Paradise”

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Nintendo can enjoy some much needed positivity, with SteamWorld Dig creator Image & Form likening the Nintendo eShop to “Paradise”.

That’s according to the indie developer’s founder and CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson, who commended “knowledgeable” consumers and the fact that the digital store hasn’t yet been “invaded” by developers delivering shallow experiences.

“This may sound strange, but the Nintendo eShop is like El Dorado in more senses than one”, Sigurgeirsson began in his discussion with Nintendo Everything.

“There are nuggets everywhere, the [customer] people who hang out there are laidback, knowledgeable and friendly, and it hasn’t been invaded by greedy, cheapskate [developer] conquistadores who insist on trading glass beads for gold, making shallow games with a minimum of effort and yearning to race us to the bottom”.

He continues, “Sure, we weren’t the first ones on the scene. But other studios we’ve talked to that develop for the eShop feel the same: ‘Let’s hope the others don’t come here, let them slug it out on mobile or Steam. This is Paradise: most everything here is good, the gamers are REAL gamers who pay for quality, and when you shout out there’s an echo. I’m never leaving this place.’ You can venture out, but you know you’ll be back. And on that steep hill in the middle of this city of gold stands the huge Nintendo totem. All ye other gods, never mind entering here; these people shan’t be swayed”.

Sigurgeirsson also touched on their decision to bring SteamWorld Dig to the 3DS, which came at a time when Nintendo were still trying to turn the handheld’s fortunes around. By the time that SteamWorld Dig released, Animal Crossing: New Leaf had helped to drive hardware sales and Image & Form were able to secure the top of the Nintendo eShop charts in Europe, North America and Australia.

“In October 2012 we decided to take SteamWorld Dig to the eShop, after having been successful on the App Store with our very clever trail-defense hit Anthill (buy it! now!) – but we simply didn’t have the nerves to bet the farm on the mobile-game lottery again. At that time we knew no one at Sony or Microsoft. We didn’t really know anyone at Nintendo either, but we HAD made a Nintendo game before, and thought we could do it again. Now, this is about 18 months ago – the Stone Age, in gaming chronology. Things were very different back then: the jury was still out on the 3DS, and no one could tell for sure if it was going to be a hit, or if it had already failed.

“But we’d been betting on the right horse: Last spring, Animal Crossing: New Leaf turned out to be a system seller, and paved the way for us. Suddenly the 3DS was a great device, also in terms of units sold. By the time we released SteamWorld Dig in August 2013, sales of Animal Crossing had started to slow down, which opened up for us. SteamWorld Dig became the game that dethroned the kaiser; within a couple of weeks we were #1 in Europe, North America and Australia. And just as suddenly, we were one of the most interesting developers in the world. All thanks to Nintendo, the eShop and the remarkable community.

“I think that the Western eShops are marvels, but it could be that we are in exceptionally sweet spot. NOE and NOA listen to us and discuss things with us. They make us feel important, which is very nice – and new. Western gaming media are also very kind, and pick up on very many of the things we say”.

He also revealed the lack of success that they were experiencing in Japan, and how media are less inclined to cover digital releases. That observation even applies to Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, who concentrate on physical titles available at retailers.

Sigurgeirsson closed, “I hope that Nintendo stays the same – it may not be visible to everyone, but they are great at ‘handling’ us indies – we want to be loved, and we feel that they love us. A lot”.

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