Why Nintendo Should Not Go 3rd Party
Since Nintendo fell well short of their financial targets recently, there has been a lot of debate as to whether Nintendo should consider moving out of the hardware business, and become a third party developer for the current generation of games consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Webush analyst Michael Patcher recently said on Twitter: “Nintendo software is still great, will continue to be. However, if software remains proprietary, sales are limited when they sell fewer hardware units”. He also advises Nintendo that they should drop the Wii U and develop games for other consoles before bringing out a “more competitive console” to the market.
In response to this now common viewpoint, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated: “Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone”. Iwata has also said in the past that releasing games on mobile platforms would only provide a short term profit.
This is a similar scenario that happened in the early years of the 3DS. The console was criticised for having only one circle pad, the low resolution of the front facing and 3D cameras and most importantly a strong launch line-up of games. The PlayStation Vita was then released, with stronger hardware and launch line-up; and yet the 3DS is now cited as the best selling console of 2013.
The reason for this comeback is a result of the incredible games that were released for the 3DS in 2013. Titles like Animal Crossing, Pokémon, Luigi’s Mansion and Fire Emblem were responsible in the increased demand for the 3DS, which goes to demonstrate that the games will always sell the hardware. Whilst it could be argued that games like Pokémon and Fire Emblem would serve well under the touch screen control system, Zelda and Mario franchises would not. Creating fragmentation amongst Nintendo games would confuse consumers, and developers would not be able to optimise their games to the hardware.
A similar argument can be put forward towards the Wii U. The 2014 game line-up for the Wii U looks to be the strongest yet, with Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Donkey Kong and even a Zelda game set for release. Dropping the Wii U now would cost Nintendo a lot of money, as all the development invested in these new games would effectively be wasted, and Wii U adopters would lose faith in the company, dissatisfying their arguably most loyal customers.
Taking a break from developing console hardware would have the same fragmentation effect on the Wii U. Currently Nintendo are able to optimise their games completely with the Wii U hardware, they could not do the same if they were developing for the Xbox One or the PS4. Confusing the consumer market further by switching to and from Nintendo hardware could also have further negative impact on sales and software quality. Even releasing a Wii U system that replaces the Gamepad with the Pro controller would seem more sensible than dropping the system altogether.
Whilst becoming a third party developer may seem like a good idea to some, this can only be a short term solution, and not one that is likely to save Nintendo any time or money. A more prudent alternative would be to create a strategy to “fix” the Wii U, by continuing to release great first party games for the system and thus improving the install base. This could even lead to an improvement in third party support.
What are your thoughts regarding Nintendo and the Wii U? Do you see a future with regards to Nintendo hardware?