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Nintendo's engineers have embraced Unreal Engine

Shigeru Miyamoto says that his engineers have ‘mastered’ the Unreal Engine.
Tom Regan, @grapedosmil
February 7, 2017
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If there's one thing that Nintendo has struggled with, it's enticing third-party developers to create games for its consoles. But according to VentureBeat, the company is looking to change that with the advent of the new Switch. At an investor Q&A session, Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that Nintendo engineers have been learning how to use third-party development tools like the Unreal Engine.

It's not much of a surprise, given that the Switch, like the Wii U before it, supports the Unreal Engine. But the fact that Miyamoto has opened up on the subject shows that Nintendo may be softening its sometimes frosty stance on third-party developers. That relationship has never been too friendly, with former president Hiroshi Yamauchi saying in 2000 that third-parties are "not helping the industry at all."

Nintendo's Shinya Takahashi echoed Miyamoto's sentiment, adding that the business wants an environment where "a variety of different third-party developers are able to easily develop compatible software." Miyamoto also suggested that Japanese developers no longer lag behind their western counterparts on third-party engines. He added that his engineers' skill set can "now be compared with those of western developers."

It's more than likely that Nintendo itself will stick to using its own development tools when building games for its new hardware. But making an effort to understand one of the most commonly-used game development engines will be seen as a very public olive branch to the industry. Unfortunately, the early lineup of third-party games for the Switch is a little threadbare, the only notable names being NBA 2K16, Dragon Quest XI, Rime, FIFA and a late port of Skyrim.

The situation seems to be chicken-and-egg, with developers waiting to see how well the Switch does at launch. But fair-weather buyers may be hesitant to lay down several Benjamins for the new machine until they're sure it'll play the same games other consoles can. Not to mention, of course, that there are plenty of unanswered questions about how the device will handle online play -- and developers hate that sort of uncertainty.

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