Nintendo Risk More With Prototypes, Metroid Prime Developer Says

Image: Nintendo

We are still waiting Metroid prime 4and yeah it sucks. However, according to former Retro Studios employee Jack Matthews, the game’s continued development is a testament to Nintendo and Japanese companies in general.

Matthews worked as a lead technical engineer at Metroid Prime Trilogy and talked to Kiwi Talkz Podcast about their development.

During the conversation, Matthews touched on the key differences between developing for a Western publisher and in Japan, noting that Japanese firms are more likely to take risks with prototypes before going into full production, which is a much more profitable way of working:

To a large extent, the structuring of transactions consists in the fact that [Western publishers] want – when you are going to prototype – they want to fully align the whole game […] before starting the prototype.

This negates a lot of what you do in the prototype anyway, because you still need to figure out how much it will cost for this thing that you really don’t know much about.

Nintendo is known to take risks with prototypes; Matthews notes that because many of the company’s games are built by in-house teams, prototypes are often considered “sunk costs” as long as the product is not profitable. He adds:

[Nintendo] know that this is the right way. It’s all about risk / reward, where you risk and where you see your reward.

This approach, according to a former Retro Studios employee, is very common in Japan, where business deals are more informal and handshake; In contrast, Western publishers don’t tend to trust developers that much, he says, and often fear that the developer might walk away with the prototype and team up with another publisher.

In the same interview, Matthews also talked about how frustrated he was with the Wii.

Metroid Prime 4 was announced in 2017, but in 2019, Nintendo EPD general manager Shinya Takahashi revealed that development had been resumed under the direction of Retro Studios.

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