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Nintendo’s indie program head steps down, opens up about company’s policies

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Posted on August 4, 2014 AT 02:13pm

Dan Adelman, the man who spearheaded Nintendo’s push into indie games, has stepped down from his position at the company to work as a business development consultant for indie developers.

“Happy to announce I reached an arrangement w/ @NintendoAmerica whereby I can tweet again,” Adelman wrote on his Twitter account this morning. “Arrangement includes my not working there anymore.”

Earlier this year, a Gamasutra article revealed that Adelman had been barred from interviews and told not to use Twitter following a 2013 incident where he empathized with a fan’s complaints over region locking. Despite the occasional friction with his former employer, the decision to leave Nintendo seems to have been his own.

Now that he’s free to speak publicly, Adelman is being quite open about his time at Nintendo. He spoke to Kotaku about some of the more memorable hiccups during his tenure, including the fallout from his region-locking tweet. “When people started complaining that I wasn’t active on Twitter anymore, it was suggested that a PR person could just post in my name. I thought that was about the worst idea I’d ever heard, so I left it as is and let the silence speak for itself,” he said.

“How do I feel about it? I have to admit it was really frustrating. So many developers felt comfortable reaching out to me on Twitter, and now that was being taken away. We were back to presenting ourselves as a behemoth, faceless company, which I saw as a major step backward.”

Adelman was similarly candid about Nintendo’s (now removed) policy of ensuring independent developers worked out of an office environment rather than their homes. “It was crazy,” he said. “There were people whose job it was to look up addresses in Google maps to see if the business address was a home or an office building. And if it looked a little residential, they’d ask for photos. There would be e-mail threads with literally a few dozen back and forth exchanges about whether the couch in someone’s office was really used for business purposes or did someone really live there?”

In a blog post on his new website, Adelman offered further reassurances that Nintendo will continue to push into indie games, even in his absence. ”While my core team of awesome folks (shout out to Scott, Luke, and Shannon!) and I did everything from handle the operations to the marketing to reaching out to new developers, in the last few years whole new teams of people responsible for each of those areas have been formed,” he wrote. “People at Nintendo don’t need to be reminded that indie games are important. They play them every day. In fact, one of the reasons I decided to leave was that there were fewer and fewer new battles to wage. Everyone was getting on the same page and starting to work together like a well-oiled machine. What fun is getting into an argument if the other person already agrees with you?”

Josh Harmon, Associate Editor
Josh Harmon picked up a controller when he was 3 years old—and he hasn't looked back since. This has made him particularly vulnerable to attacks from behind. He joined EGM as an intern following a brief-but-storied career on a number of small gaming blogs across the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @jorshy. Meet the rest of the crew.

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