Study: 4.6 percent of developers making Wii U games

Game Developers Conference "State of the Industry" research shows North American indie game scene rising, Nintendo development hurting.

Game Developers Conference organizers today released the results of their first annual "State of the Industry" study, revealing a burgeoning independent scene and a hurting Nintendo.

The group polled more than 2,500 North American game developers who attended GDC 2012 or plan to attend GDC 2013. It found that just 4.6 percent of developers are currently making a Wii U game, while 6.4 percent of respondents said their next game would be for Nintendo's latest.

Microsoft topped the interest list of the Big Three, with 13.2 percent of surveyed developers currently making games for the Xbox 360 and nearly 14 percent planning their next title for the platform. Sony came up just behind, with 13 percent releasing their current game for the system and 12.4 percent planning to ship their next title on the platform.

An identical 11 percent of developers surveyed said they are making their next game for the PlayStation 4 and the still unannounced but highly rumored Xbox 720.

The independent development is on the up and up, according to the GDC study. It found that 53 percent of respondents identified themselves as "indie developers." And of those, 51 percent have been independent for under two years, the study said.

Other notable indie statistics include 46 percent of respondents saying they work within companies of 10 people or fewer. Further highlighting the growing indie scene, the majority of developers said they were not working with a publisher--and don't plan to. The study found that just 24 percent worked with a publisher on their last game, while 20 percent are doing so at present.

The GDC poll also highlighted the trend of developers creating games outside of the console space. Thirty-eight percent of surveyed developers released their last game for smartphones and tablets, while a larger 55 percent are currently developing for those platforms; 58 percent said they plan to ship their next game for smartphones and tablets.

PC and Mac are the next most sought after platforms, according to the study--34.6 percent of respondents said they released their last title for these platforms, while 49 percent are planning to release their next title on the PC and Mac.

Developers showed little interest in the dedicated gaming market, according to the study. It found that 2 percent of developers made their last title for the PlayStation Vita, 4.2 percent are making their current game for the system, and 5 percent said they plan to release their next game on the platform. As for Nintendo's 3DS, it did not fare any better. Two percent are currently making a 3DS game, and 2.8 percent of polled developers plan to release their next game on the platform.

Concerning funding, the GDC poll of North American developers found that 37 percent are financing their current projects through existing company cash flow and 35 percent through personal funds. Nine percent of respondents said their projects were primarily funded by venture capital, while 10 percent are publisher-funded, and 4 percent are primarily crowd-funded.

Of the surveyed developers, 8 percent said they had worked on a crowd-funded project in the past, and a substantial 44 percent said they plan to do so in the future.

The 2013 Game Developers Conference takes place in San Francisco, California, March 25-29. GameSpot will be in attendance.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

573 comments
NightsOwl
NightsOwl

Gamespot has been terribly biased against Nintendo as of late. It's bad journalism. I'm sad that people have to isolate another company just to aid theirs. It's disgusting.

cubachino
cubachino

If the Wii U is in trouble at 4.6% then we might as well kiss the next console generation goodbye! Because according to this article only 11% are planning games for the PS4 and the rumored Xbox 720. So let's see 11% / 2 = 5.5%. not much of a difference from that 4.6%!!!

Shadowmax889
Shadowmax889

what a misleading article indied, Nintendo IS NOT DOOM. This poll was only about indie developers not AAA developers. Gamespot you FAIL

makoreactors
makoreactors

Nintendo : quick we are losing em guys, hurry push out a mario game to get sales up that'll buy us some time

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

If Nintendo still doesn't believe that the Wii U is in trouble even after this...then I don't know what more could show them.

hitman047m4
hitman047m4

wow talk about pure news manipulation... Gamespot (Eddie), those numbers are right, but the whole intent of this article (and its headline) is purely wrong, manipulative and sensationalistic.

In the end, the article should be labelled as "Study: ~4.6 percent of indie and small developers making Wii U games", since "46 percent of all attendees reported working in companies of 10 people or less, with 53 percent of respondents self-identifying as indie developers out of ~2500 attendees."... so that leaves 1 percent of the attendees that could (or not) be part of bigger/AAA companies/studios.

Also, you keep ignoring the reason why many (if not all) indie developers do not make the jump to the Nintendo platform; and is because Nintendo's business practice (they should change if they want to attract more people) asking those, who want to develop for a Nintendo console, to require/provide a commercial office. Some indie and small developers have come forth in the past stating that this is the real thing (currently) stopping them from developing for a Nintendo console.

Also, 4.6%,~115, (developers currently making a WiiU game) to 6.4%, ~160, (developers making/thinking future WiiU game) is an increase in developer support/interest in the console, so it is not that terrible as intended by the headline of the article.

Yeah it is easy to bring out those numbers and spin them around, and leave out of the article the true reasons, logical and rational explanations why those numbers exits.

DarthLod
DarthLod

And Nintendo up on their dream mountain still doesn't get the hint!!

ivan_osorio
ivan_osorio

It may be because english is not my native language but that was PAINFUL to read.

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

if Nintendo didn't have first-party titles, they would've been bankrupt ages ago

StarkJJ
StarkJJ

"Developers showed little interest in the dedicated gaming market".  Which proves this article was only brought to the surface to bash Nintendo...again.  Good one Gamespot!

sladakrobot
sladakrobot

Nintendo gave other 3rd partys an advantage of 6 months or more for them to sell or establish their games on WiiU.What we saw was almost just ports from X360/PS3 and on top of that they was technically on paar with those versions.I bet,if Nintendo ever releases a new console,Nintendo will say:"Fcuk them(3rd partys),we cant count on them...lets release games ppl really want us to release(our ip's) and make plenty of money.

psx_warrior
psx_warrior

This article should be retitled, "The rise of pc and mobile gaming."

Daian
Daian

From the moment they named it the Wii U, thus confusing most of the Wii owners, did anyone really not expect this? Is this really surprising? I don't really think so.

juboner
juboner

nintendo its time to team up with sony

psoomah
psoomah

The Wii Y = dead console walking.

mumfaud
mumfaud

I would love to say this to all my WIIU fans. Nintendo did us wrong.. I will no longer continue to support them anymore. They should take a hint from SEGA. Then again I said this last time when the WII launched and they proved me wrong. So only time will tell.

chun-IDGAF-li
chun-IDGAF-li

when wii u came out.................................i bough a wii. :) cheap used wii FTW!

philoslocos
philoslocos

The big issue with the Wii U is that its major competition is not PS3, Xbox 360, or even the next generation, it competing against itself with Wii.  The casual gamers that made the Wii a success do not see the same amount of new innovation that made every one want a Wii when it came out.  The only thing I ever hear when talking to people about the Wii U is people asking the question, "how is it different from the Wii?".  The only answer I tend to also hear is, "Well its in HD now and has a tablet as a controller."  That does not seem to be enough for people to feel the need to upgrade. 

cousinmerl
cousinmerl

Not surprised there's so few working on Nintendo projects -  they're difficult to talk to and don't relate well with the indie scene with tough dev kit prices.
The hardware as well has confused the general public as for most it just seems to have a U on the end of wii (not much difference surely?)  and it has some sort of ipad that's not very remote. softwares also lacking and doesnt have that killer app like nintendo wii sports. make friends nintendo, make lots more friends! oh and some decent software... and NO you CANNOT include re-releases Nintendo in that list of decent titles!
...any how indie scene looks like where its at YO!

BradBurns
BradBurns

@NightsOwl  

Well, I'm not a Nintendo hater or anything like that, but I do honestly think that the Wii U is headed in the same direction as the Vita. 


Ideally, I'd love to have both consoles succeed, but it does seem that the game market has changed greatly. 


A dead Wii U or a dead Vita benefits no one. It only kills the industry.

hitman047m4
hitman047m4

@cubachino I believe they meant 11% for each console.... "Finally, an identical 11% of respondents are making their next game for upcoming Sony and Microsoft platforms."... right from the source... but I could be wrong, since the wording of that sentence (right from the source) is confusing to me because it is not clear (to me) whether it is 11% each or 11% combined.

If it is 11% (assuming is 5.5% each) combined, then the results are not that great for the other consoles, compared to the WiiU. The WiiU has 6.4% of indie developers planning/thinking of future WiiU games, compared to 4.6% currently making WiiU games.

If it is 11% each, then there is nothing really to boast about since they are low percentage as well and they are above the WiiU by a difference of +5%.

vampyren
vampyren

@SavoyPrime agree, Sadly nintendo is again doing the same misstake as before and still dont realize we dont live in 1990 where they had the market. There is so much wrong with the Wii U that i could write a few pages on this subject alone. 

Any way i hope they stay in business since i love the company but  their focus, innovation and ambitious have been
all but successful. I would say they need a new young leader who gets the market and can make new IP's for hardcore gamers. ( i love mr iwata but he dont seem to get the market right now)

Looking at the PS4 conference i only see more hurt comming their way. Personally i will only buy PS4 and X720 and skip Wii U. 


jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@hitman047m4 I agree with your above post in many ways. 

First off the editors here at gamespot DO practice sensational journalism, with headlines like, "congress pushes forward with doomsday bill".  And of course the bill and facts have little to do with end of world and more to do with lower tariffs on something inane like metal imports. But this is how they make their money, heavy traffic to their sites, much of it here on forums. 

For instance the above article was almost completely taken word for word from gamesindustryinternational where it was covered much more in depth and also gave the reader heads up that the polling here is not representative of the development community at large as the GDC is usually not attended heavily by large studio developers. It would be like a doctor employed by large hospital group HMOs attending a independant physician conference on small clinics. 

I come here to read the fast and dirty news of the day regarding video games but actually get my news from sites like Polygon, gamesindustryinternational, rev 3 games. While the info in the story is correct a little context would go along way in knowing the whole story, not just enough to get fanboys flameon power going. Also everyone here should remember that the editors at gamespot are not here to inform you, but to get you to freq this site and post comments. 

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@bongsyas_23 

Well duh, it's one of the primary reasons why many companies who tried entering the gaming industry with consoles failed. 1st party games almost always have the most selling power when it comes to consoles. 3rd party games only do that if they're exclusive, like GTA III.

anon_fire
anon_fire

@Daian It's probably because that Nintendo should have discontinued the Wii.

cubachino
cubachino

@juboner Not that I want Nintendo to fail but it would be cool if I only had to buy 1 console every generation instead of two!

hitman047m4
hitman047m4

@juboner Last time they tried, both of them try to screw each other over peanuts (sales royalties, tech resources/information, among other things), resulting in Nintendo's downfall from the top ... so it is very unlikely that this will happen again. But hey, nothing is impossible.

kwandar
kwandar

@juboner 

Sony is losing money by the bucketful.  I don't think Nintendo needs to do anything but wait, because Sony is running out of time, financially whereas Nintendo is sitting on a mountain of cash.  

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@mumfaud 

Did what wrong? I love my Wii U, sure I don't play it as much right now because there aren't any new games for it, but I'm not going to b*tch and moan about it, I'm a patient person with other hobbies so I'll wait until those games I want come out (like Monster Hunter this month). I spent a good deal of money on the console, so I'm going to get my money's worth, simple as that. 

kwandar
kwandar

@Bl4KD37H 

Interesting.  I bought it and have zero regrets.  Although more games would be great, we have more than enough and love Nintendoland, Zombi U, The Cave, Trine, and two $0.30 oldies.

Better yet I can play when someone else is watching the tv.

I like the wara wara land thingy.

I wasn't as impressed with TVii, which is one of the features I had hope for (but I don't have cable, and it doesn't yet control my home theatre receiver :(  Maybe others have better results)

Overall, I like the experience, and PS3 has found itself sidelined, as it generally does Hulu and Netflix better too.


wcwj26
wcwj26

 @Bl4KD37H What's your friend code?

Ehggsz
Ehggsz

@philoslocos I still don't even know if the Wii U is just the tablet or if it comes with an actual console device that hooks up to the TV.  I thought it was the former at first, but now I suspect the latter.  I just didn't have enough interest to find out.

wcwj26
wcwj26

 @philoslocos casual gamers will start buying it soon enough. Mixing their Wiimotes & nunchuks with a new Gamepad and Pro pad, not to shabby hardware and a good online social experience, there's no way the casuals won't come back once the games start rolling out!

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@cousinmerl

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2013/02/pwnee_studios_nintendo_has_been_great_to_work_with

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2013/02/vblank_entertainment_nintendo_is_great_to_work_with

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2013/02/retro_platformer_another_castle_is_coming_to_the_wii_u_eshop

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2013/02/dakko_dakko_reveals_wii_u_exclusive_scram_kitty_and_his_buddy_on_rails

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2013/02/maestro_working_on_new_titles_for_the_wii_u_eshop

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2013/02/renegade_kid_certain_the_wii_u_will_have_an_excellent_future

And these are just the recent announcements.

Sooooo yeah, Nintendo actually has more Indie support right now than Microsoft and Sony, several developers (like FrozenByte) stating how the eShop is much closer to Steam than PSN/XBLA. Almost every week or two a new Indie game is announced for the Wii U, while the system is definitely lacking in support from major 3rd parties, it's Indie support is bustling right now. 

zaire360
zaire360

@cousinmerl i will never spend another dime with nintendo they promise me they would not get out gunned the wii u is a current gen system and will get destroyed by the nxt xbox and ps4 real talk

kwandar
kwandar

@vampyren @SavoyPrime 

Guys .... the only reason you can't write what is wrong with the PS4 or 720, is .... they aren't here yet.  You're comparing (and it always happens) real hardware against announcements.

I think there is improvement to be had with the Wii U, but I think that will come.  The hardware isn't holding anything back though - the GAMES (or lack thereof) are.

Nintendo have made some major improvements to tool sets and availability of Eshop to independents, and we've seen independents coming to the platform.

This survey on the other hand, was a poorly done - poor methodology from which to draw any accurate conclusions.  Just one factor was that this single survey went to EVERYONE, but many of the developers worked for the same place. 

Even without much new content, sales of Wii U are likely going back up in February.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@abHS4L88 @bongsyas_23 ABHS, That is not really true since the 4th &5th gen systems, 3rd parties have done very well for themselves. I mean take the psone, Sony and SoE did okay with their first party titles or in-house, by far 2nd and 3rd parties sold much more with FF, Metal gear, resident evils, WWF, sports, GT, bandicoot, and tons of fighting games.  Same as on the sega, ms consoles, and similar with pc, mobile. 

Nintendo has on purposefully taken a stance with developers after the 4th gen. Nintendo sat down and said to themselves we have the dominance in the market right now, play by our rules, and our way or _____________ (imaginary line) cross us and it is the highway.  Hindsight that was a bad decision but at the time 'N' easily remembers the VG crash of the 80's and felt the competition on their necks. They felt ripped off by tons of mario, zelda clones, and was watching talent leave to strike out on their own. 

Nintendo more and more isolated themselves legally, and kept their brain trust in house behind iron bars and 3rd party licensing hugely expensive and restrictive. Well it worked for a while, cash flowed in by the buckets, even with 5th gen their profit margin was huge even though their market share shrank. Old CEO's just figured why change.   

In the past console makers and developers were under the same house, so first party sold well because that is all their was. 1rst party titles have more access to resources but most all of the profit goes to the publishing house not developers. 

And as for the 3rd party games only do better if exclusive, that has never been true. the simple fact is opening up your product to more people results in better sales. Cost, licensing, publishing has been the only factor to keep developers exclusive. That is why any developer after a successful IP quickly wants to branch out and make games for as many platforms as profitably possible. 

TLDR: sorry for length but needed some background. 

ZomDie420
ZomDie420

@abHS4L88 @mumfaud i personally play mine more than my own ps3, its just collecting dust while my wii u is being played around 4 to 6 hours after work and more on weekends so i think nintendo did just fine with me plus monster hunter 3 ultimate is around the corner and thats a game that can easily last to fall of next year :)

hystavito
hystavito

@wcwj26  How casual are these casuals you refer to?  A distinction needs to be made, because there are casual gamer types who bought a Wii and then there are also a bunch of non-gamer types that also got one.

All the people/families I know that own a Wii have no plans to get a WiiU at all.  Sure they might, but it won't be anytime soon.  They just don't care about gaming, it's a little thing they did here and there and now their Wii are idle, or maybe they use it for Netflix if they still don't have an HDTV.

Nintendo's marketing machine seems to have failed to even get the interest of the kids.  I've told this story a few times online a few time and got some people saying they've seen the same thing.

I got my sister's kids a WiiU for Christmas, they have a Wii.  They were not even excited at all when they opened it, it was a total failure.  They had heard of it prior to that, they just didn't care.  They were visiting and they had a few days left, and I asked them multiple times if they wanted to set it up and try it out but they didn't even want to, I was shocked :).  Since then I've asked about it and while they did of course hook it up and play it, it's not like some thing they are super stoked about.

NOTE: I feel when I make critical comments about the WiiU I must mention that I also bought one for myself, though I almost never play it.  I'm not a hater, I am just seeing a general lack of interest/excitement about the system that I cannot ignore.

cousinmerl
cousinmerl

@abHS4L88 @cousinmerl dont get me wrong - I like nintendo, but i feel their current line up of titles for wii U and 3ds arn't inspiring.
I also dont think you can make enough out of their systems to form a profit. and its the same for other systems too! as a indie developer myself getting money in is best found through selling on iPhone and iPad because of its in app purchase system. and although we got to NO.1 in the UK for windows 8 and blackberry those two systems didn't bring in enough to cover the production. I think allot of developers find it the same for 3ds. everyone wants titles for less then $2 and really the developers NEED $10. hard times.

kwandar
kwandar

@zaire360 @cousinmerl 

Destroyed?  Sony is near the doors of bankruptcy, and MS has precious few first party games.

Xbox720 and PS4 aren't even out yet, and when they DO come out people will start slagging them too (unfortunately) for all the wrong reasons.

vampyren
vampyren

@kwandar

About the controller: is sucks plain and simple. Its feels cheap, crappy screen (resitive that dont detect more than one point even). And its clumsy as hell. I played with it 10-20 min in store and realized it was very annoying to hold for long play hours. No way i will replace a traditional controller for a plastic brick. 

On Castlevania, why do you think they never considered Wii U , try to think a bit before answering next time i suggest. 

On PS4 price i'm one of the few maybe but i dont care about initial price, i buy it day one, when you will use the device for years to come the price difference is no issue. And most people realize this. I agree the backward compatibility is a issue but than again i will have my PS3 on the side even if i would rather have PS4 playing them. Still better to have a powerful console than a mediocre.

I think even on day one PS4 will have more to offer than Wii U due to the strong support i see. Still this is not about day one sale, this is about buying a console and believing in it. I want to own a console i feel confident about so that i can invest in the games. I know for sure PS4/720 will be backed up by companies while Wii U is even today not getting very good support. Most (all?) games i see coming to Wii U are ports, there is nothing original (not talking about cute little games now). When the new line of high end games comes where will Wii U be do you think? The blame is low-end hardware + funky controller + to few usersbase. 

The problem you mention in 3 years starts slowly from now......

kwandar
kwandar

@vampyren @kwandar @SavoyPrime 

You obviously don't own a Wii U, as the controller IS worthwhile (offscreen play at minimum - unless you sit alone in the basement), and is not something they went cheap on.  If you want to argue the box itself is underpowered, okay, but will that extra power actually improve the games? I'm not so sure.


Your Castelvania comment is just plain stupid.  They made it clear their budgets wouldn't allow them to hire the additional 20 developers at this time.  Yes, it cost MONEY to port, and if you don't have it in your budget, you don't do it.

Revisit your prediction next January.  None of us know the PS4 pricing, but it will be a LOT, and sales will suffer as a majority of PS3 users (you know - gamers like myself, who may actually care about specs) will not move until 2014 (if ever) as there is no backward compatibility.  On top of that, Wii U as you pointed out, will have a lower price point.

Tell me ... will consumers (particularly non-gamers) pay $2-300 more for the PS4 which has less software, in December?  I don't think so.  I have no idea where Xbox720 stands, but unlike PS4 it will probably be backward compatible, so they may survive.

The other race between lower cost Wii U with its 1st party titles, and higher priced Xbox720 with few 1st party titles.

In three years, "maybe" your comment about Wii U being under powered will be relevant (games requiring all that extra horsepower and unable to play on Wii U), but that is a long ways from today.

vampyren
vampyren

@kwandar@vampyren@SavoyPrime 

Sorry i dont agree with you. Sure you are right that we compare with hardware that isnt out but from the Sony event i can already tell its going to be much much more powerful than Wii U which is pretty much competing with current gen.

Also we already see signs that companies arent willing to spend money on Wii U like the Capcom (castlevania). As always Wii U has inferior hardware and a different controller (here i would say a lousy one since i hate the tablet personally and see it as a gimmick and distraction, sure there is the Pro controller but since its only a optional one i don't know how it will fit into the picture, it actually is more of a problem to have 2-3 controller scheme counting in the nunchuck so what the hell are the developers going to choose and focus on ???). 

I truly think Nintendo made a huge mistake again by playing cheap on Wii U and thinking they had to re-invent the controller.  I love Nintendo since all my childhood was spent playing their games plus Segas but they have sadly lost grip of time. I do wish them all the luck but sadly i dont think luck will cut it this time around. My prediction is PS4/Xbox720 will be dominating the market once more and leave Wii U back in the dust. Companies wont invest tons of money on a special low end hardware (its not low end today but 2-3 year down the road it is) with a different controller when the mass market is going for the PS4/Xbox720, pretty much the same story as with the old Wii. Time will tel i guess...... :)

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@abHS4L88 @jenovaschilld @bongsyas_23 ah, dude hope you didnt take anything in the above post as harsh criticism. It is all meant as friendly sharing of knowledge and debate on the forums. Forums used to be where like minded, like interest people came to share, help and debate info. Unfortunately here it has become who can insult the other in as few a words possible. 

Peace. 

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@jenovaschilld @abHS4L88 @bongsyas_23 

I was talking about exclusive 1st parties, 3rd parties have a much easier time breaking into the market due to only having to worry about the software they put out whereas 1st parties have to worry about the quality of their hardware as well as supplying that hardware with killer 1st party software as well as 3rd party support.

Also with 3rd party games having more selling power, I meant that as system sellers because yes mulitplatform games are more likely to sell more units overall, but it's the exclusives that move units, that's what I meant. 

I'm aware of everything you said ;)

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@ZomDie420 @abHS4L88 @mumfaud 

Some people just can't grasp the concept that people have different opinions/preferences than them. My 3DS is getting the bulk of my playtime, pretty much 98% of my gaming the past 2 months have been on my 3DS.

kwandar
kwandar

@hystavito @wcwj26They may well buy once they see a new Wii Fit, or go to a friends and see how nicely Hulu, Youtube and web browsing are implemented.  
Until they see it though it is an open question.
I've had a different result from you (though having a child helps) and the Wii U gets used more than the PS3 by far. - but your mileage may vary :)

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@cousinmerl @abHS4L88 

That's your opinion, while I agree that the Wii U's line up is currently lackluster (although the upcoming games look great), I cannot in any way agree with the 3DS as I do own one and have gotten more play time out of it compared to my 360 and Wii and there are still a handful of games I want that are currently out as well as the excellent line up of games coming out within the next few months. 

While Indie games do generally struggle on home consoles, several Indie developers have reported success with their latest entries on the Wii U and 3DS as Nintendo is doing a much better job of pushing these games to the forefront compared to Microsoft and Sony.