Since 2005, Dan Adelman has been the man within Nintendo most responsible for promoting independent games on the company’s platforms. And while he says he’s leaving Nintendo for a freelance life in independent business development – and he’s doing so on good terms – Adelman seems to have resisted some of Nintendo’s business and marketing decisions for some time now.
In a departure post on his website, Adelman says his tenure at Nintendo has landed him “one of the best jobs in the best industry” as he has fought for indie game representation on Nintendo consoles since the days when indie games were barely a thing. He says he’s leaving because Nintendo has created new groups dedicated to independent game developers.
“People at Nintendo don’t need to be reminded that indie games are important,” he writes. “They play them every day. One of the reasons I decided to leave was that there were fewer and fewer new fights to fight. Everyone got on the same page and started working together like a well-oiled machine. get if the other person already agrees with you?”
That answer, however, seems to obscure some major public disagreements between Adelman’s management and Nintendo. They began in early 2013, when Adelman publicly hinted that Nintendo would change its policy to require independent developers to have an office away from home (months before Nintendo officially changed that policy). In a recent interview with Kotaku, Adelman called that policy “ridiculously outdated” and recalled how Nintendo employees once searched Google Maps to confirm whether a developer’s address provided was a business or residence.
Later in 2013 when Nintendo famously released a 3DS port of The binding of Isaac for “questionable religious content,” Adelman strayed from the official company line, telling IGN that he thought “maybe we should revisit the whole draft guideline on religious themes… What we need to do is sometimes be a little more flexible in interpreting that guidelines and making exceptions where they make sense.”
The disputes with Nintendo came to a head after a Tweet from September in which he sympathized with a fan against Nintendo’s region locking policy. Afterward, Adelman told Kotaku that Nintendo was not strongly encouraging him to stay off Twitter, but was forcing him to stop using the service. This silence seems to have extended to general interviews, with the company refusing to let Adelman talk to Gamasutra for an April series on indie console games.
Today, Adelman seems happy to be rid of these limitations. “Happy to announce that I have reached an agreement with @NintendoAmerica that will allow me to tweet again,” he said wrote on Twitter. “Agreement means that I no longer work there.”
Despite the public disagreements, Adelman tells Kotaku he’s proud that Nintendo has changed some of its more draconian policies against independent developers, such as a business address requirement and a strict minimum income requirement for indie payouts. That said, Adelman says he’ll continue to advocate for more changes now that he’s away from Nintendo, including a friendlier cross-platform account system and more prominent placement for indie games on Nintendo eShop.
“I know there will be a lot of forum comments and editorials saying ‘OMG Nintendo is doomed!’ but the truth is that Nintendo’s indie program is in good hands,” Adelman told Kotaku.