Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

You can talk about almost anything that you want to on this board.

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
Drozerix
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:54 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Drozerix » Mon Apr 27, 2020 7:19 pm

This may be an odd question but I was wondering if anyone has contacted Nintendo about licensing their game. It seems like they are a bit (and that is a small bit) more friendly toward indie developers with the Switch's release; that said, I was wondering if they would ever endorse developers (or companies for that matter) for creating games on their old platforms. With the NES classic being such a big hit and Nintendo green-lighting old NES games on the Switch this makes me wonder if it would be possible for them to support the development of new NES games.

Am I being too optimistic with my thoughts here? Maybe we could work together to make something happen here -- just a thought.

calima
Posts: 1156
Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:16 am

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by calima » Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:20 am

From memory, Sega replied "too old, do what you want" when asked about official licensing for Pier Solar. Nintendo in turn didn't even reply when someone asked for NES. And well, their seal meant they had done QA on it, they don't have NES QA anymore, so why would they even in theory say yes?

Bananmos
Posts: 532
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 9:08 am
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Bananmos » Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:07 am

But why on earth would you even pursue such a thing?

The "seal of quality" was just part of large scheme of keeping licensees under strict control. This was made possible through a moderately successful DRM in the form of the lockout chip, as well as blackmailing stores to not carry "unlicensed goods". The official seal was primarily a ball'n'chain for developers, masquerading as some form of alleged quality control...

Parody seals of quality made in jest are really the way of the homebrew. That way you get your nostalgic kick without being bullied by a big corporation. Win-win situation I say.

Pokun
Posts: 1490
Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 5:49 am
Location: Hokkaido, Japan

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Pokun » Tue Apr 28, 2020 4:54 am

Even though it was and excuse for Nintendo to charge high license fees and cartridge production costs, I wouldn't say that it wasn't a quality control at all. Many other systems would allow almost anything, while Nintendo's systems generally had quality software (not necessarily always good games though) at least. I think that is one of the reasons it could become so popular after the video game crash in America.

BTW now when the Switch turned out to be a success, I heard Nintendo went back to their old habits so it got harder to develop for them again.

tepples
Posts: 22017
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 11:12 pm
Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by tepples » Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:35 am

Retrotainment ported Haunted: Halloween '86 to the Nintendo Switch. I was involved very little with the port, mostly to change strings (such as s/Select/- Button/g), but I do know it's running a variant of 3dSen.

User avatar
Drozerix
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:54 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Drozerix » Tue Apr 28, 2020 11:03 am

calima wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:20 am
From memory, Sega replied "too old, do what you want" when asked about official licensing for Pier Solar. Nintendo in turn didn't even reply when someone asked for NES. And well, their seal meant they had done QA on it, they don't have NES QA anymore, so why would they even in theory say yes?
In theory, they could put your game on their NES free to play store, thus garnering more interest, which may make them more money. I could see some incentive on their part for doing so -- that said your game would have to be really good for them to allow this I'd imagine. Also, I'm not entirely familiar with how publishers release stuff on the Switch now, but I would think that whatever quality check they would do for those games could be done for NES software.

Also, even if approved for the NES Switch software store, would this mean that you are allowed to create a physical cart and use that "Official Seal"?

User avatar
Drozerix
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:54 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Drozerix » Tue Apr 28, 2020 11:04 am

tepples wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:35 am
Retrotainment ported Haunted: Halloween '86 to the Nintendo Switch. I was involved very little with the port, mostly to change strings (such as s/Select/- Button/g), but I do know it's running a variant of 3dSen.
Thanks for your input. I've heard about this, but do you know if Nintendo is aware that this game is an NES game? Or more importantly, is Retrotainment even allowed to put the seal on a cart they make even though they have their game on the Switch? I'm just curious. :)

User avatar
rainwarrior
Posts: 7824
Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:03 pm
Location: Canada
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by rainwarrior » Tue Apr 28, 2020 12:09 pm

I don't know what you think the seal of approval is, but no you're not allowed to just put trademarked and copyrighted Nintendo emblems on stuff. Anyone who does so legally has negotiated some sort of license for it.

The NES "free" to play store doesn't have a seal of approval on anything. There's no box. Totally irrelevant. Also it's not free, you're paying monthly for it.

Theoretically you could get a new NES game on there, but I'm not sure why you'd want to, or why Nintendo would want you to either, instead of just offering it as a regular switch app. It'd have to be a really special deal for it to be worthwhile for either party.
Drozerix wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 11:04 am
...is Retrotainment even allowed to put the seal on a cart they make even though they have their game on the Switch? I'm just curious. :)
No. Getting your game on switch does not give you a license to use the old irrelevant Nintendo seal of approval on your NES game's box. These things have nothing to do with each other.


Some repro companies have put a fake Nintendo seal of approval without a license. It's not legal, but also nobody cares and they will get away with it anyway.


Otherwise, the theoretical answer is yes, you probably could license that seal from Nintendo with the perfect deal. All you have to do is make a game that is so important they would care about negotiating this with you. :P Good luck. (The real answer is no. Nobody will ever do this.)

User avatar
Marscaleb
Posts: 216
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:39 am
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Marscaleb » Tue Apr 28, 2020 12:22 pm

Bananmos wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:07 am
But why on earth would you even pursue such a thing?
I can't speak for everyone, but I for one dreamed of making Nintendo games when I was a kid. And making a homebrew title sounds like a lot of fun and all, but getting that official endorsement would make that dream so much more real. Depending on what would be involved it may or may not be worth it, but I'd still want to look into the possibility. I'm not gonna fault anyone for pursuing that (if it were still an option.)
Bananmos wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:07 am
The "seal of quality" was just part of large scheme of keeping licensees under strict control. This was made possible through a moderately successful DRM in the form of the lockout chip, as well as blackmailing stores to not carry "unlicensed goods". The official seal was primarily a ball'n'chain for developers, masquerading as some form of alleged quality control...
Maybe you didn't see what was going on with the Atari before the NES came around, but that market crash was very real. It wasn't some scheme to keep people under control, it was a plan to make selling games viable.
Also, blackmail is a strong claim. Do you have anything to back that up?
Bananmos wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:07 am
Parody seals of quality made in jest are really the way of the homebrew. That way you get your nostalgic kick without being bullied by a big corporation. Win-win situation I say.
It's fun, but it's also just not the same.

Bananmos
Posts: 532
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 9:08 am
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Bananmos » Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:29 pm

I can't speak for everyone, but I for one dreamed of making Nintendo games when I was a kid. And making a homebrew title sounds like a lot of fun and all, but getting that official endorsement would make that dream so much more real.
Sounds to me like this "approval" is more about getting confirmation from some sort of "authority" figure. Kind of like a teacher giving you a star sticker and pat on the shoulder, saying "good job kid!"

But the problem is that this authority doesn't exist. Or rather, they could under any normal circumstances not care less about people who for inexplicable reasons are wanting to pitch them a game for a video game system they stopped supporting generations ago. Because the authority is not a school teacher, but a business. And in business, everything needs to have business value... and you'd be hard-pressed to find any in NES homebrew, outside of crowdfunding campaigns specifically targeting a niche market of retro gamers.

And frankly speaking, to most people in this world, the "I want a big corporation to give me their badge of recommendation for my effort to make a game for a system they discontinued more than 30 years ago" is more in the realm of something you need counseling for.

I know that sounds harsh, and I don't want to make it sound like it's wrong to have a "weirdo hobby" by any means. But my point is that's what the whole thing looks at once you step outside the niche homebrew community and into the world of big corporations where things need to make business sense. :)

There is an option though if you're looking for that affirmation: Joe of NESMaker fame hosts annual competitions for games made with NESMaker. Some entries from last year were actually quite good games I really enjoyed. And last year he even managed to get Howards Phillips from NOA to judge the competition entries:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_cont ... e=emb_logo

That's probably as close as anyone can get to getting an "approval" from a veteran who at least played a major role in Nintendo's history - the guy reportedly had quite a lot to say about which games ended up going outside Japan back in the day. And it's actually really cute to see people who just recently started their dream of making a game for their childhood video console get that sort of validation from an old NOA figure, and I commend Joe for making it happen.
And as for Joe himself, you gotta admit that whatever criticism people throw at him in other threads, he does play the part of being an authority figure for nesdev newcomers really well. And encouragement of his followers/customers plays no small part in that.

So that's possibly a route if you are really in need of that positive feedback. You'd obviously have to use Joe's software though... but if you really need to have a figure of authority give you that fuzzy feeling that you've done well, then I honestly think that's the way to go. You might also find the community of newcomers to nesdev homebrewers using NESMaker to be a bit more enthusiastic about a lot of things (crazy licensing pursuits included) than the more-knowledgeable-but-also-more-cynical-bunch over here... :P
Maybe you didn't see what was going on with the Atari before the NES came around, but that market crash was very real. It wasn't some scheme to keep people under control, it was a plan to make selling games viable.
Indeed, I was too young to see it. And what's more: the videogame crash was mostly a US-only thing. In Europe, the gaming market was more diverse, with the NES being just one of many consoles / computers used for gaming at the time.

But sure, there is certainly an argument to be made that the stricter quality control had a positive effect for customers who only had boxart to go on. But I think (independent) game magazine reviews could manage that just as well - and there were no shortage of those in European countries either. Word of mouth among schoolkids plays a good part as well.
And yeah, with my non-american perspective I do struggle with the old "Nintendo saved the videogame industry" cliche. Especially when the business reasons for doing so had IMHO much less to do with maintaining quality, and more with abuse of Power...
Also, blackmail is a strong claim. Do you have anything to back that up?
I thought it was common knowledge that stores which sold unlicensed games (Color Dreams etc) would risk having supply shortages, as Nintendo controlled all the distribution. Here's an old random article touching on the subject - where a federal court actually did rule in Nintendo's favor: https://nintendotimes.com/1990/03/17/re ... ndo-games/

It's not controversial to bring it up, and you can argue either side. And call it what you want - I'm choosing a candid wording.

Another funny story is that IIRC (from sources I can't be arsed to look up at the moment) as soon as Color Dreams switched focus to making christian-themed games, Nintendo were less inclined to fight - possibly to keep their image public image in the bible belt I've been told. Not that anyone cared much for those games anyhow...

But at the end of the day, it was a business practice that kept them very successful for many years, that's also impossible to deny.

Pokun
Posts: 1490
Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 5:49 am
Location: Hokkaido, Japan

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Pokun » Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:59 pm

Nintendo didn't want any third party developers at first, but eventually let Hudson and other developers in on the Famicom. The infamous licensee scheme didn't exist yet though, and Japanese companies did not have a restriction on how many games they could release per year and were even allowed to produce their own cartridges. This and the fact that the Famicom boomed in Japan, meant that more shovelware appeared for the Famicom. Although the American gaming crash was mostly affecting USA, Nintendo were fully aware of its potential and applied strict licensing rules to keep down the shovelware to prevent them from getting a bad reputation. The licensing rules was made much stricter outside Japan where the gaming crash still had an effect. I don't think Nintendo cared that Europe was less affected by the crash, Europe was treated the same as USA and was a smaller market in general anyway.

Gaming magazines wasn't that common during this time as games wasn't that popular yet in Europe. In Sweden we pretty much only had Nintendomagasinet during the NES days, and I think it wasn't fully independent from the Nintendo distributor (Bergsala) (and they were also working with Nintendo Power in America), as it later became the Club Nintendo we all know. Nintendomagasinet had game reviews but they were at the same time game guides with level maps and stuff, and were restricted to subscribers only.

User avatar
Drozerix
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:54 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Drozerix » Tue Apr 28, 2020 5:04 pm

rainwarrior wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 12:09 pm
I don't know what you think the seal of approval is, but no you're not allowed to just put trademarked and copyrighted Nintendo emblems on stuff.
...I didn't think this topic would invoke such animosity -- I didn't mean to offend anyone here. :shock: I think the seal of approval is exactly what it says on the link that I posted; that is to say, a Nintendo trademark that signifies that said product is evaluated and licensed by Nintendo. Look, obviously you can't just slap Nintendo's trademark nor their material (that has a copyright) onto your product without their permission. I'm not saying or suggesting anyone should do such a thing -- not unless you have their permission, which is what this conversation is about. I'm also not talking about illegally using old, deprecated Nintendo logos; rather, I'm talking about obtaining an actual license and an evaluation from Nintendo.

On their website, the section on licenses says this:

"This symbol is your assurance that the product has been evaluated and licensed by Nintendo for use with its systems."

I suppose "systems" is a bit equivocal. What does this mean exactly, does it apply to different gaming systems (like Switch vs NES, both are Nintendo "systems")? Or perhaps "product" here is referring to something physical and not the actual software product (not the game but the media used to store the game) -- in which case your software license is utterly useless in this sense since you would not be able to put the logo on the physical product. I don't expect anyone here to have the correct answers to these questions, I'm better off contacting Nintendo directly for this. Regardless, this text is what made me wonder if they gave you an official license when you publish a game with them; plus it made me wonder what that license was for (hence why I asked about Retrotainment)! Again, I have not worked with Nintendo before, which is why I was asking about what the deal is here -- from what you are telling me I take it they don't give out any official licenses when you work with them to publish a game on the Switch. I figured as much, but I thought I would ask, thanks.

In any case, if you did get a license and had their permission to use their logo, then you are allowed to use it -- by definition -- but the question remains, has anyone tried to do this?

User avatar
Drozerix
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:54 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Drozerix » Tue Apr 28, 2020 6:52 pm

Bananmos wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:29 pm

And frankly speaking, to most people in this world, the "I want a big corporation to give me their badge of recommendation for my effort to make a game for a system they discontinued more than 30 years ago" is more in the realm of something you need counseling for.
I don't think that it's insane to want to get your game licensed by a company that played a big role in your life and inspired you as a child. To many people Nintendo isn't just a random "big corporation." That said, I don't necessarily want my games "approved" or licensed by Nintendo (although I would love it if they did :) ) -- I am mainly speaking as a game collector here (and as a developer secondarily). I think it would be amazing if Nintendo officially supported and endorsed the development of new NES games, whether they come from you, me or some big corporation. I just thought that others would share the same sentiment and if so then maybe we could try to make something happen. Can't hurt to ask, right? Just wanted to know if this was feasible, and if not then why?

Also, I guess that some see the "Official Seal" as a symbol of suppression (which to some degree I suppose it is), honestly the thought never crossed my mind. :|
Last edited by Drozerix on Tue Apr 28, 2020 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
tokumaru
Posts: 11755
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:43 pm
Location: Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by tokumaru » Tue Apr 28, 2020 7:34 pm

Being the huge company that Nintendo is, they will not be interested in investing any effort into something unless they can profit from it, and there's hardly any profit to be made from officializing homebrew games. Also, the way they have dealt with fan stuff in the past clearly shows that they don't give a shit.

You can try contacting them, even though there's a 99.99% chance you won't even get a response... but on the off chance that you do get a response, it will probably not be a positive one.

User avatar
Marscaleb
Posts: 216
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:39 am
Contact:

Re: Has anyone tried to obtain an "Official Seal" from Nintendo for their game?

Post by Marscaleb » Tue Apr 28, 2020 7:54 pm

Bananmos wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:29 pm
I don't want to make it sound like it's wrong to have a "weirdo hobby" by any means.
Yeah but that's basically what you're making yourself sound like. You're swinging that bat a little close to your teammates.
Bananmos wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:29 pm
And what's more: the videogame crash was mostly a US-only thing.
Yeah, and all the licensing restrictions that you're upset about were only a US thing. The "Nintendo Seal of Quality" was from Nintendo of America. Japan had their own requirements that were much different. A different company was running distribution in Europe with their own guidelines and rules. (Actually I think there were multiple companies over Europe, but I could be mistaken.)
Bananmos wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:29 pm
I thought it was common knowledge that stores which sold unlicensed games (Color Dreams etc) would risk having supply shortages, as Nintendo controlled all the distribution. Here's an old random article touching on the subject - where a federal court actually did rule in Nintendo's favor: https://nintendotimes.com/1990/03/17/re ... ndo-games/
That's not blackmail. Seriously.
That's not even illegal, or really even a shunned business practice. If someone wants to sell someone else's product, they have to abide by the terms the producer sets. Those terms could range from specific prices to how the product is displayed to when it can be sold. Not allowing retailers to sell other products is one we don't see that much anymore because the mindset of consumers has shifted, and today the protection that practice offered is now held up under other practices and laws, most especially trademark laws. (related tangent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeLvdE8lNW4) But at that time, this was the kind of thing they needed to do to protect their company image.
Blackmail is illegal, and it's really unfair to compare this to it.

Getting back to the main topic...

Since it seems you weren't around in US stores in the 80's let me share a little bit of history.
That "Nintendo Seal of Approval" was something that Nintendo really pushed. I didn't really get it much as a kid, but looking back in my life I don't believe I have ever seen a company push a quality seal as much as Nintendo did. There would be posters on the walls of stores that told people to "Look for the Nintendo Seal of Quality!" TV ads spent some of their expensive time telling people to "Look for the Nintendo Seal of Quality!" There were inserts in the game's boxes that talked about the Nintendo Seal of Quality. I believe the seal was mentioned on the boxes as well, or rather, the ones from Nintendo themselves.
This wasn't just a simple marketing stunt; NOA was spending a lot of money to get the end-level consumers to recognize this seal.
As a kid I didn't understand why, but even as a kid I still was sold on the importance. Nintendo felt more special than the other consoles I had played in the past. It wasn't just that it had better graphics and sound, (Not to mention a WAY better controller,) but that push about the "Seal of Quality" just made the product seem "better" somehow. As a kid, I actually did look for that logo. It was part of something that just made everything I got for my Nintendo feel like it was all... connected somehow. It wasn't until a few years later that I really understood that these were different companies making these games; they felt like they all came from Nintendo; this was all part of the same brand. This is honestly how I felt as a consumer at the time.

And looking back with the wisdom I've gained from others, I see the real plan behind that seal. Most consumers were burned out on video games. A lot of people gone done-in when Atari started making new consoles that were needed to play the latest games. This kind of thing is common today, but it was unheard of at the time. You didn't need a new TV set to watch the latest shows; you could still use the same one you've had for the last 20 years. You didn't need a new record player to play the latest music. But yet the video game console you bought two years ago (adjusted for inflation it was more expensive than the PS3's release price) was now out-of-date. It really didn't seem worthwhile to spend money on another one of these things. especially when those discount games you just bought weren't all that good.
Nintendo wasn't really selling games so much as they were trying to sell trust. They kept pushing that seal because that seal was a promise to the consumer.

So yeah, I don't really blame anyone for being curious about getting that official seal on their game today. If it was something Nintendo was willing to continue today, I wouldn't blame anyone for even spending a little bit of money to be allowed to use it. Sure in today's market it really is little more than a "gold star." Getting certified for a console is a straight-forward process and trying to advertise that you passed certification sounds like a waste of breath.
But even the regular consumer didn't see it that way in '89.

Realistically, I'm not going to have an NES game I make get manufactured and set on the shelves of Toys R Us. I know that. But I can still think fondly of that dream I had when I was a little kid, and I'm still going to try to get as close to it as I can. If Nintendo were still offering that Seal of Quality, I would certainly look into getting it slapped on my title. And I tip my hat to everyone here who still pushes after that love we found over thirty years ago. (Or found it later; I don't judge.)

Post Reply