My first suggestion is to drop the requirement for ESRB ratings for older games. If the title came out before ESRB existed, let it get published "as is" without having to pay thousands of dollars to get rated first. (I also think that required ESRB ratings are harmful to WiiWare and other digital platforms where small games are developed on the cheap and only expected to receive limited profits if released.)
My second suggestion is to reduce or remove the minimum sales threshold so that publishers get paid sooner for content they are releasing. Having some form of minimum sales makes sense; forcing publishers to take on the risk that they won't see any revenue at all doesn't.
That is such a great point about ESRB.
But why not take it further? Why not COMPLETELY DO AWAY WITH ESRB ratings and the fees they incur that are passed on to the lil' devs? ESRB seems like an outdated concept and, if memory serves, it was itself a hackneyed reaction to public outcry over violent games in the press.
Do you know who doesn't give a flying crap about ESRB? Apple and all its thousands of game developers filling the iTunes store with the same level of gratuitous content (guns, sex, drugs and alcohol its all there).
If, in this day and age, some kind of on-the-box rating system is still needed Nintendo might as well do it themselves more quickly and more cheaply. Don't hand mobile games development yet another competitive advantage!
About sales thresholds, the thing that irks me is the thought that Nintendo just pockets a wad of dough that really should go to the dev that sweated through its development. As Trent Oster said, that check that Nintendo sits on could be life and death to a small dev. Whatever the reason they implemented the threshold, why not change it to a revenue-based threshold? E.g. Over $5000 in revenue, whatever that equals in unit sales, you get paid. Paying developers for THEIR work: it is the right thing to do!
I'm kind of broken record here, but do you know who doesn't jerk developers around on the issue of claiming their fare share of revenue? Yeah....