Nintendo allows game prototypes to fail, says ‘Metroid Prime’ dev

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,[Nintendo] Know that this is the right way to go. It’s all about the risk/reward”

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according to a Metroid Prime Developers, Nintendo and other Japanese publishers take more risk with game prototypes before agreeing full development terms with studios than with Western publishers.

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This latest. comes from Kiwi Talks podcast, where host Reece Reilly talks to Jack Matthews, who worked on the trio Metroid Prime Games in Retro Studio. The discussion eventually moved to differences in how Japanese and Western publishers finance their titles and take risks.

“The way deals are structured is that [Western publishers] want – when you’re going to do a prototyping – they want to have a whole long term compromise of the whole game […] Before you even start prototyping,” Matthews said.


“It negates a lot of what you’re doing in prototyping anyway because you still have to figure out how much the whole thing costs for this thing that you really don’t know much about.”

Metroid Prime. credit: Retro Studios/Nintendo

Mathews then rhetorically asks why small developers would build a prototype “on their own” if it was never picked up by the publisher, as all the time and money they had invested would be wasted.

Reilly followed up by asking why Nintendo would allow developers to build a prototype before signing full development contracts, to which Matthews responded: “[Nintendo] Know that this is the right way to go. It’s about risk/reward, where you put your risk and where you see your reward”. With him saying that a lot of Nintendo teams are internal, so they see prototyping as a “fad cost”. Unless a product makes money.

restart of Metroid Prime 4Development in 2019 appears to support this risk/reward approach of Nintendo, at least in terms of the development phase. As Shinya Takahashi, general manager of Nintendo’s Entertainment Planning and Development Division, said in a video at the time: “Nintendo always strives for the highest quality in our games; and in the development phase, we challenge ourselves and face challenges.” Let’s see if the game is living up to that quality on a daily basis.”


Matthews says this approach to prototyping is “just a Western way of doing business, it’s a way of not relying on the other side by default”. Saying that he sees and hears about Western publishers fears a developer will walk away with a prototype unless they put a long-form agreement around it.

According to Matthews, working with Japanese publishers is a lot more “handshakey” than dealing with tons of legal documents. as they say they settled capcom, Konami and other teams in Japan where it felt like “working with them at home”.

In other news, a pokemon shining pearl The speedrunner has beaten the game in less than an hour.

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