Metroid Prime Trilogy Lead Technical Engineer, Jack Mathews, recently talked to the Kiwi Talkz podcast. The former Retro Studios staff member talked about Metroid Prime 4‘s prolonged development cycle and the Nintendo prototype strategy. They ended up discussing the differences between working for a western publisher versus a Japanese one. He says the Japanese publishers are more willing to take risks than their western counterparts.
“A lot of the way that deals get structured is that [Western publishers] want – when you’re going to do a prototype – they want to do an entire long-form agreement of the entire game […] before you start the prototype.”
“It ends up negating a lot of what you’re doing in the prototype anyway because you still have to figure out how much the whole thing is going to cost for this thing that you really don’t know much about.”
Mathews says this approach is actually quite common in Japan. In fact, these business deals there tend to be less formal than in the west. Meanwhile, western publishers are less trusting towards developers. Why? Well, he says they are generally afraid of developers taking their prototype to another publisher. Japanese companies like Nintendo are likely to take more risks on prototypes before they agree on full development terms with a studio. Mathews further commented about the reasoning behind the Nintendo prototype strategy:
“[Nintendo] know that that’s the right way to go. It’s all about risk/reward, where you put your risk and where you see your reward.”
Metroid Prime 4, first announced in 2017, may still be missing in action, but Nintendo dropped Metroid Dread this year to hold fans over (see our review). The wait may be a long one, but the next 3D Metroid game will no doubt be well worth it. Fans of the series are no strangers to long waits.