What does the Steam Deck mean for the Nintendo indie scene? | iMore

Anybody with a Steam account is well aware of the frequent sales the platform is known for. Some go so far so as to avoid purchasing games on Steam upon release because chances are that it’ll go on sale within a few months. Indie developers often put their games up for a reduced price to gain attention and try to draw new customers in. With the sales come impulse purchases and many a meme about PC gamers having more games bought during sales in their Steam library than they know what to do with.

Of course, this means that those who decide to splurge on the Steam Deck will have a multitude of games available to play from the get-go, with no new purchases necessary. It’s safe to assume that many of those games will be the very indie titles that gamers know and love. And with many preferring to play indie titles on the go, Steam Deck users who also own a Nintendo Switch may feel less inclined to purchase those indies anywhere but the Steam Deck.

Is the Switch indie scene in trouble?

Indie Games Revenues On SteamSource: Video Game Insights

All of this begs the question: Will the Nindie scene die out? I don’t think so.

On paper, it seems like it makes sense. People buy tons of games on Steam, and they enjoy playing indie games on handheld consoles — which is why indies do so well on the Switch. Now anyone with a Steam Deck and a Nintendo Switch won’t have any incentive to purchase indie games for the latter because of the “Switch tax.”

But who’s to say that the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch buyer demographics overlap so much to jeopardize Nintendo’s sales? First off, the point of entry for both consoles differs drastically. The Switch library of games is available for access from the $200 Nintendo Switch Lite to the just-announced Nintendo Switch OLED model, which can be pre-ordered for $350. Meanwhile, the Steam Deck starts at $399, with the most attractive model being offered for $649. That’s a pretty penny, for sure, and there’s nothing to suggest that a significant number of Switch owners are scrambling to pre-order another handheld console.

Secondly, people don’t necessarily purchase the Nintendo Switch for the indies alone. Many are drawn to the Switch for its amazing games, like the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with its sequel getting fans quite excited, or Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which pushed an insane number of consoles during the first wave of the pandemic. People go to the Nintendo Switch for first party titles, with indies being a nice bonus.

This leads me to believe that people who purchase indies on the Nintendo Switch will continue to purchase games on that platform. Nintendo loves indie developers and continues to bring attention to quality games, while some indie developers with games on Steam have complained of changes to the platform’s algorithm to reduce visibility of up-and-coming games. Many developers claim that their games sell more copies on the Switch than on Steam, and while developing for Steam means reduced costs in development hardware, some investigations have shown that over 50% of indie games earn less than $4,000 in total revenue.

What can Nintendo do to step up?

Is it possible that Nintendo could improve its situation by changing the way it operates? That’s hard to say. Nintendo hasn’t really gone up against the competition since the Nintendo GameCube, and it’s this confidence that’s kept it going. The company is more concerned with making its games fun and implementing innovative controls, which some might argue is more important than telling increasingly serious stories and packing more polygons and ray tracing into games than our eyes can comprehend.

Will the Nindie scene die out? The truth is — I don’t think so.

If I could choose anything, I’d probably choose a price cut. A price range of $200-$300 was fine before the next generation of consoles, but the $350 price on the OLED model looks a little unattractive when compared to the $300 Xbox Series S and the $400 Steam Deck. Those who are interested in Nintendo’s first-party games will purchase the console regardless, but those looking for a second console might just cast their eyes elsewhere.

Of course, Nintendo would have to continue rolling out quality games to give players a reason to stick around, but that’s true for any console maker. With games like the Breath of the Wild sequel and Splatoon 3 coming out, I’m not too worried about Nintendo’s fate in that regard.

Finally, Nintendo needs to continue supporting indie developers the way it has. Continue to host Indie World Showcases, make developing for the console easy and hassle-free, and ensure that every game on the system is fun to play. Many developers dream of releasing their games on a Nintendo platform before they even think about putting it out on PC, simply because being able to develop for Nintendo is an honor.

What are your thoughts on the Steam Deck? Let us know in the comments!

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Author: Gamer/ Source