Nintendo’s newest studio – Who is Shiver Entertainment?

But why Shiver Entertainment? Of all the talented teams in the industry, what is it about this Florida-based company that has piqued Nintendo’s interest enough to bring them into the first-party fold? Let’s see.

Shiver Entertainment – A Brief History

Founded in late 2012, Shiver describes itself as a “boutique game developer based in warm and sunny Miami, Florida. Our small team consists of highly talented individuals who enjoy working together to create great games.”

From Shiver’s website:

Our goal is to create the world’s best games and have fun while we’re at it. Part of the appeal of our boutique studio is that you get to work on many different facets of the game, matching your interests with the needs of the project. You won’t be a cog in a wheel here, hoping to work on the fun aspects of the game – you’ll do that from day one, working alongside some of the most talented people in the industry.

Started by John Schappert, Jason Andersen (two co-founders of Tiburon Entertainment), and Jon Osvald (who was Zynga’s Senior Vice President of Games and oversaw the Ville games) with investment from Nexon, Shiver initially had a mobile, free-to-play focus that has since shifted to a focus on “console (PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch) and PC development for both contract work on high-profile titles and original IK P .”

Mobile RTS Beasts vs bots was announced in 2015, though we struggled to find evidence of it beyond a handful of videos and some dead store links. From what we understand, it may never have actually launched. In any case, it appears that Shiver has turned from mobile to console development, channeling his technical knowledge into port work in collaboration with other studios, most notably Warner Bros.

In 2021, Embracer Group acquired the studio under Saber Interactive, that was until Saber itself was no longer embraced in March 2024, after which Shiver remained in Embracer’s portfolio until Nintendo picked it up.

Shiver Entertainment – Gameography

So what games has Shiver worked on that have finally launched? Here’s a look at all the games for which Shiver has support and Switch port credits:

Okay, so there are some big names in there, but it’s hardly the sparkling resume you’d expect to catch Nintendo’s attention, even with port expertise on display. Mortal Kombat 11 was fine, and Hogwarts performs admirably on Switch in every respect, but Mortal Kombat 1? That’s quite annoying on Nintendo’s system.

Maybe Warner Bros. Shiver has been given an impossible task by bringing the game to Switch, and having it run in any state not at all is a small miracle. Either way, Nintendo needs to see something beyond the credits. Only after many years of close and exclusive collaboration was Canada’s Next Level Games (Luigi’s Mansion 3, Mario Strikers: Battle League) made a first-party studio in 2021. SRD was a Nintendo partner for almost a year. 40 years before finally becoming a first-party subsidiary in 2022 because the arrangement they had worked just fine. What makes Shiver worth acquiring out of thin air?

So why is Nintendo interested in Shiver?

Shivering entertainment
Image: Shiver Entertainment

Shiver Entertainment CEO John Schappert is an industry veteran who has worked for some of the largest companies in the industry. The software programmer worked at Visual Concepts in the early 1990s and co-founded Tiburon Entertainment in 1994 (‘tiburón’ is Spanish for shark, and ‘shiver’ is the collective name for the toothfish – if the fins in the water of the logo you wouldn’t have noticed the amount of the connection) and worked closely with EA on games like the Crazy series.

EA acquired Tiburon in 1998, and in 2002 Schappert migrated to EA, eventually becoming Executive Vice President for a brief period before overseeing Xbox Live at Microsoft Game Studios. He returned to EA as COO for almost two years before joining Zynga in the same role. Since 2012 he has held a number of chairman positions and since 2013 he has been CEO of Shiver.

Why is all this relevant? Schappert is a serious person with industry credentials and knowledge of game development from both the trenches and the boardroom. Far from some hotshot indie startup, Shiver is helmed by someone who will prove reassuringly professional and experienced against Nintendo’s higher-ups.

Nintendo shiver

Schappert also has more personal associations and links with Nintendo. When DICE posthumously awarded Satoru Iwata a Lifetime Achievement Award, Schappert presented the award (to Reggie Fils-Aimé) and spoke of the former Nintendo president’s generosity. “Mr. Iwata left an indelible mark on the industry. He made gaming bigger and better,” he said.

“My friendship, admiration and respect for Mr. Iwata is so great. He wasn’t a normal video game director. He was a game maker, designer… His passion and dedication are deeply missed. So please make every match count.”

Add to that his company’s technical expertise with modest, if not ‘withered’ technology and his valuable contacts and connections with other studios in the industry, and the acquisition starts to make more sense.

And let’s not forget that this “will only have a minor effect on Nintendo’s results for this fiscal year.” A small studio in Florida is a relatively inexpensive purchase, especially compared to the enormous sums other companies pay for large studios and their intellectual property. The announcement lists the Shiver’s “Capital stock” as “USD 10” (which would be a very good deal indeed), although the actual price will be the undisclosed debt Nintendo takes on along with the sale.

Nintendo has very full, very deep pockets, but they don’t stay full by spending money knowingly. You can bet Nintendo got a good deal on this one.

Switch is the future

Nintendo Switch OLED
Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

There’s also a possibility here that Shiver could be deployed as a support team for third parties who need help bringing their game to the Nintendo platform. As you can see from the credits, the studio is no stranger to plugging into existing pipelines alongside other companies, and having a first-party team to help with the technical details could ensure that the next Switch gets the third-party . support it needs. It’s easy to say that Nintendo games sell Nintendo platforms – and that’s true – but the current console’s broad appeal also includes core gamers who want to play the biggest titles on the go. With other portables like Steam Deck available, it makes sense to have a team dedicated to ensuring continued support for exciting non-Nintendo titles.

In the announcement, Nintendo broadly outlined its intentions for the future:

Shiver’s focus will remain the same, continuing committees that port and develop software for multiple platforms, including Nintendo Switch.

So the acquisition of Shiver Entertainment may have come as a surprise, but looking at the developer’s acumen and the kind of expertise Nintendo thinks will be valuable enough to bring in-house, it seems like a smart purchase. According to Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa, all signs point to ‘Switch 2’ being an interactive update to the current system’s hybrid concept, with third-party games still more than welcome on the upgraded platform. It’s also not impossible that the specialty of Shiver’s support team will be deployed on first-party games, as the team certainly has talents that can be deployed on internal projects.

Whatever the exact game plan, with Shiver as part of Nintendo, finding optimization solutions, easing mobile chipset bottlenecks, and porting games to the next platform should be that much easier.

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