Nintendo Doubling Down on Indies for Switch

SAN FRANCISCO The Nintendo Switch isn't just a great place to play Zelda and Mario — it's also become a portable indie game powerhouse since it first launched in March 2017.

Mark of the Ninja Remastered. Image Credit: Nintendo

(Image credit: Mark of the Ninja Remastered. Image Credit: Nintendo)

At this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC), Nintendo's head of third-party relations Damon Baker recapped the Switch's first year of indie games (or "Nindies," as the company calls them), pointing out major sales milestones and teasing some future titles. The takeaway? Indie games have been a massive success on Nintendo's hybrid console, and you can expect a whole lot more of them in the future.

According to some infographics shown by Baker, 70 percent of Switch games with a 75 or better rating on Metacritic are indie titles. Take a look at the system's top-scored games, and you'll see the likes of Celeste and Shovel Knight hanging with heavy hitters such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.

Nindies aren't just landing with the critics; they've been massively successful with fans, too. Baker noted that 76 percent of multiplatform devs who launched their game on Switch saw their sales match or exceed what they raked in on other platforms.

As a result of this indie game boon, Nintendo's third-party digital content sales have exceeded those of all third-party packaged goods. In turn, Baker said, the Big N is looking to make big improvements to the Switch's Nintendo eShop marketplace.

"We've heard the feedback of the limitations of the Nintendo eShop loud and clear," said Baker, noting that the company will be putting a bigger focus on discoverability and visibility to make it even easier for folks to find great new indie titles.

MORE: A Year with Nintendo Switch: What We Love and Hate

Speaking of great new indies, a whole bunch of them are on the way. Nintendo revealed a slew of upcoming releases in a recent Nindies livestream, which was highlighted by such titles as Mark of the Ninja Remastered, Banner Saga 3, Fantasy Strike and The Messenger. Baker also revealed that popular multiplatform titles Hyper Light Drifter, Nidhogg 2 and Crashlands are all coming to the Switch soon.

This time last year, lots of folks (including myself) were anxious over what kind of third-party support the Switch would have. Flash forward to today, and it's become the de facto place to play indie games (as well as a few AAA hits like Doom and Skyrim) for the exact reason the Switch is succeeding in general: you can enjoy Nintendo's console anywhere.

We'll be getting our hands on the next wave of exciting Nindies coming to the Switch this year, so stay tuned for impressions straight out of GDC.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.