The Mutant Mudds developer talks about Renegade Kid's upcoming games, the dismal state of retail games, and the possibility of Moon and Dementium sequels.
Most die-hard 3DS fans are likely lamenting the barren wasteland of releases on the eShop right now. Plain and simple, it's been a little slow lately. Maru's Mission was the last Game Boy release on Virtual Console...11 weeks ago!
Not too long ago, North America was blessed with a fantastic string of eShop releases, including Renegade Kid's Mutant Mudds. We sat down with Renegade Kid's Jools Watsham and talked about the eShop and Renegade Kid's past, present, and future.
Nintendo World Report (NWR): What were your expectations for the eShop last year?
Jools Watsham (JW): I had pretty big hopes for the eShop when it was released. I liked DSiWare, but my expectations were that the eShop would improve on that in a big way.
NWR: How have your expectations risen or fallen since then?
JW: My expectations were met and exceeded. I think Nintendo have done a good job with the eShop. It is easy and fun to navigate. They have made a tremendous number of improvements over the DSiWare and WiiWare shops, and even made some important improvements since the eShop launched.
NWR: What do you think is the eShop's biggest strength right now? Biggest weakness?
JW: I think all that remains for the eShop is more awareness of it with the players. I think there are a lot of part-time players out there who own a 3DS and might not even realize that it has an eShop. We need to educate the players and the parents of young players about the eShop and the alternatives to $40 retail games it has to offer.
NWR: At E3 last year, you showed me four 3DS games (Mutant Mudds, Planet Crashers 3D, ATV Wild Ride 3D, and Face Racers). As we near the following E3, only two of them have come out. How would you compare the release of Mutant Mudds on the eShop to Face Racers at retail?
JW: I don't know how many units Face Racers has sold, so I can't compare the two games in that regard. Plus, both games are very different from each other, so comparing them at is kind of tricky. The retail market is honestly such a mess, I think it is very difficult for games to make an impact with players these days unless they have expensive advertising campaigns that push them in front of everyone's face. That's what I like about the eShop. It has a dedicated audience that can easily see what's new on the eShop and check out screenshots, videos, ratings, and even free playable demos. This makes their buying choices a lot simpler, easier, and quicker than the clunky retail method of going to a store and guessing what might be good or bad on the limited shelf space.
NWR: Ignition is making the decision to publish Planet Crashers 3D on the eShop. How do you feel about the game's chance on the eShop compared to retail?
JW: Yeah, I think releasing Planet Crashers as an eShop game is a wise and bold decision. Like I said earlier, asking $30 or $40 for an original game is very difficult these days if it doesn't have the backing of a huge advertising campaign. Most companies can't afford to go gangbusters with every game they release, so it ends up making every release very delicate and risky. I don't know how much Planet Crashers will sell for, but I expect it will be a fraction of what the retail price would have been, which is awesome for the player!
NWR: You originally were pitching ATV Wild Ride 3D as a retail title. At what point did you decide to pull it back and self-publish it as an eShop game?
JW: Yeah, our original approach with ATV Wild Ride 3D was to work with a publishing partner to bring it to retail. I still think it could do very well at retail if it had good distribution. However, the market being what it is has made that a hard sell. I believe in the game. I think it's a great game. I am extremely proud of it in terms of responsive and fun gameplay as well as the incredible visual upgrades we've poured into the game. I was not going to give up on this title. Having experienced some success with Mutant Mudds, the eShop quickly became the obvious choice for our arcade racer. It has not been easy to self-fund the development, but I am confident that in the end it will all be worth it.
NWR: What are the release plans for ATV Wild Ride 3D?
JW: We have another month or two of development before the game will be ready to submit to Nintendo for final approval. I hope the game will be released this summer sometime, for approximately $9.99 / 10 Euro.
NWR: Bomb Monkey uses the system on its side like a book. With the 3D screen, it seems like that doesn't happen too often with the 3DS. What led to the decision to have the game like that, and was it difficult making the game work with the different-sized screens?
JW: Due to the vertical nature of the gameplay, rotating the 3DS to take advantage of "tall" screens felt like a natural fit. The two player mode uses both screens - with each player having their own screen - and the difference in screen sizes does not pose a problem at all.
NWR: Is there a left-handed option for Bomb Monkey?
JW: Well, the way the game is controlled isn't strictly right or left-handed really. You can use the Circle Pad or +Control Pad to control your little Bomb Monkey, or even the stylus if that is more comfortable for you. It is your choice.
NWR: What are the release plans for Bomb Monkey?
JW: We hope to complete the development of Bomb Monkey in the next few weeks, so we should be submitting the game to Nintendo for final approval in about a month if everything goes to plan. It will be priced at approximately $4.99 / 5 Euro.
NWR: Do you have the freedom to set the price for eShop games yourself?
JW: Both the publisher and Nintendo are involved in determining the price of a game.
NWR: Do you have the ability to do dropped prices and/or sales?
JW: I don't think sales are something that currently exist on the eShop. I am not convinced that sales which offer games for a much lower price for a short period of time are good for maintaining a sense of value in games generally. But, I can see the logic in selling games, which have been available for a long time, at a lower price to create new interest in a title. It is a slippery slope.
NWR: Going forward, how focused will Renegade Kid be on the eShop compared to retail? Are there any plans to work on other systems other than 3DS?
JW: The Nintendo eShop has proved itself to be a great market for us. Mutant Mudds was our test case, and it passed the test. Each game will have its own unique journey in the eShop market, so each game released is still a risk, but I am optimistic about the eShop and our games in that market. The eShop market offers complete independence to us, whereas retail does not. Retail releases require us to work with a publishing partner, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I would like those partnerships to happen because both parties want to work together on something cool and not because that's the only option to release a game. We have always been open to work on other platforms, and that is still the case. I think the Steam market is really interesting, so that is something we might investigate more in the future.
NWR: Do you believe there is a hope for a follow-up to Dementium or Moon? How about Son of the Dragon? Could any of those games have a future on the eShop?
JW: I think there is a small chance for follow-ups to Dementium and Moon. We at Renegade Kid would start development of either one or both in a heartbeat! But, this gets back to the issue of relying on publishing partners and retail, etc. One dream that I have is for us to develop a new FPS original IP and self-publish it on eShop. That way we retain complete control and can release as many sequels and spin-offs as we like without having to convince the bean-counters to fund it. Son of the Dragon could happen some day, sure, but that is a big-budget title so it may be a little while before we have enough cash to make that happen.
NWR: What kind of genres would you want to tackle that you haven't yet?
JW: A 3D platformer would be fun. :)
NWR: Outside of Mutant Mudds, what's your favorite eShop game?
JW: Haha, I see what you did there. Well, if it had to strictly be an eShop release then I'd choose Pushmo. But, if I could extend it to any game available through the eShop I'd go with Cave Story, Shantae, or Dark Void Zero. I guess I cheated a bit there, didn't I? Sorry. There are just too many goodies on the eShop to limit it to once game!
NWR: How did you wind up with own recommendation section on the eShop?
JW: I know, right? Isn't that crazy!? I think Nintendo are maybe fond of Mutant Mudds, and perhaps they're slowly letting us slip under their wing a bit. It's nice and warm under there, and I'll stay for as long as I'm welcome.
NWR: How many StreetPasses did you get at PAX East?
JW: About 200, I think. It would have been more if I was able to clear out the 10 peeps limit quicker, but alas.