How Becoming a Third Party Developer Could Help Nintendo

With today’s news about Nintendo’s less than stellar sales projections, the conversation of “is Nintendo doomed” has sprung up again. This is not without good reason. The once mighty and untouchable Nintendo has been hit by a slew of bad news over the past year and this latest bit is just more salt on the wound.

The fact is that the people who mostly buy Nintendo games are Nintendo fans. The “core” gamer audiences aren’t the ones who generally support the Wii U or 3DS. This is just the way it is. That’s not to say that these people don’t want to play Nintendo games however. Many core gamers would like to play Mario, Zelda or Donkey Kong games but they don’t want to buy a Nintendo system to play them. What can Nintendo do? They can do what Sega did and become a third party developer.

I’m pretty sure that some of you don’t like what I just wrote. “Tony are you insane? This would be disastrous for Nintendo!” Has it been disastrous for Sega? They’ve been a third party company for years now and they’re doing fine. If Nintendo were to become a third party company they would most likely do a lot better than Sega since they don’t just have one character to rely on.

Super Mario 3D World - October Screens 5

Let’s face it, the franchise that Sega mainly trumpets is the Sonic The Hedgehog series. Yes, they have Bayonetta, Yakuza and countless other games from their back catalog but the only one they consistently put front and center is Sonic. Nintendo however has Super Mario Bros., Smash Bros., Donkey Kong, Kirby, Star Fox, Pikmin, The Legend of Zelda and many more. They would make a killing by having these franchises come out on every console under the sun.

Nintendo games running on PC, Playstation 4 or Xbox One would also be a great advantage to being a third party developer. Despite how beautiful games look on the Wii U, they are running on technology that isn’t much more powerful than what the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 run on. How many people wouldn’t love to see a Legend of Zelda game running on something as powerful as a Playstation 4? People cried tears of joy when they saw glimpses of an adult Link back during E3 2004. Could you imagine what their reaction would be to seeing what their hero looks like on a current gen console? Another plus side of having Nintendo games on current gen consoles is that gamers wouldn’t have to put up with things like those annoyingly long friend codes. The ease of playing multiplayer games on current gen consoles would also be a benefit to Nintendo.

Being a third party company, Nintendo can release their games on mobile devices. We’ve seen knock offs of Nintendo games for some time now on mobile devices. Why? Because people want to play these games. Look at how many emulators there are out there for NES, SNES and N64 games. Nintendo could release a virtual console app on Android and iOS and make a ton of cash. People would download classic games like Super Marios Bros.The Legend of Zelda and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out in droves. The mobile space might actually be more profitable for Nintendo than consoles or PC.

Zelda Wii U

Going the third party route route isn’t something I expect from Nintendo though. They seem to be set in their ways even if those ways are detrimental to them. The 3DS is still doing great and has been keeping Nintendo afloat for some time now. They may cling to it to keep them alive but the 3DS alone can’t sustain the company for much longer. If things continue to go the way they have been for Nintendo then they’re going to have to do something radical to turn their fortunes around. I believe that becoming a third party developer and releasing their games on everything that can run them would not only be to their advantage but could also spell a new golden age for the company.

If Nintendo is to become a third party developer then they need to do it as soon as possible… namely THIS year. AAA games like those in Nintendo’s roster would take 18-36 months to develop. If Nintendo were to drop out of the hardware business today we wouldn’t see any of their games come out for other consoles for another two years. They can continue to support the Wii U and 3DS but it would only prolong the bleeding. If they are to get out of the console manufacturer game then they need to act quickly.

Nintendo’s legacy in the video game industry is set in stone. They will forever be known as the company that converted millions of people into gamers. However, if they want to be a thriving company and not just one that gamers have fond memories of, then they need to make some radical changes to their strategy. Going the third party route may seem drastic to some but it is the only real avenue that Nintendo has to pull themselves out of the abyss that they’re slowly sinking into.

Join the Discussion

  • Huseyin Unsal

    I don’t think there gonna go third party any time soon but one thing is for sure they need to change . Shareholders are screaming .

  • Huseyin Unsal

    Nintendo need a Kaz to cut the fat and change the company direction in some aspects.

  • Suzaku Kururugi

    They should continue developing and producing handhelds. Post-SNES, their handhelds have always been their bread and butter(yeah, Wii sold alot, but the DS outsold even that anomaly). If anything, I would love to see them combine handhelds with Sony. The power of a Sony handheld with the innovative gimmicks and multitude of games of a Nintendo handheld would truly be a force. Despite being one handheld in the console gaming space, they’d still have to be competitive to keep up with smartphones so a monopoly(of sorts) wouldn’t be too terrible there. To keep their console stuff alive, they’d either have to combine their next handheld with the next console in one package or go the 3rd party route like you have said. That or just strictly focus on handhelds.

  • Redinferno124

    I agree Tony. This isn’t about Nintendo bashing. This is about Nintendo getting out of the quicksand (Wii U) before it’s too late. Its not like going third party means you wont be able to play the nintendo games you love anymore, it just means you be able to play it on other things. Better than Nintendo just ceasing to exist.

  • peterpansyndrome94

    Iwata is a cheap ass predictable underpowered overpriced scrooge!

  • peterpansyndrome94

    I don’t want nintendo to go away. its gonna be bad for Japanese games in general. And I love Japanese games to succeed.

    Actually I wanted Sony and Nintendo to destroy and crush M$ in Amurica and the whole world.

    But if it means Nintendo become 3rd party so that all these great Japanese variety of games flourish on what ever hardware… be it!

    on the other hand….

    Its the retarded Wiitards that needs to go away forever. The Wiitard’s retardedness was key to Wii U’s downfall. They have no capacity to give Nintendo constructive criticism instead they only know it to kiss-lick Nintendo’s sorry ass!

    Wiitards put a bad rep for Nintendo and Wii U.

    Nintendo Stay. Wiitarded Adult Man-Children Go Away.

  • Herb Superb

    I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with Nintendo, or how they’re doing. Just because people write that the wii-u is failing, and has inferior power, does not make it so. It’s all in how you look at it, not what you compare it to. Of course it is inferior compared to ps4, but why does that matter? Are games less fun now because we have that comparison? Is it failing because it came out before any games were ready? If they waited till this year to release it, it would have 2 other consoles to compete with for sales. Have patience. Don’t count it out yet. Slow and steady works just fine. In good time I can blow the dust off of mine, and be happy I bought it.

    • Dollow Rlance

      The problem is that hardware is not selling, and the profits are not as high Nintendo predicted, games can be fun and all, but money needs to flow into the company for those games to be continued to be made.

      At the end of the day Nintendo needs to make money, and their latest report shows that they are not, no one can deny that.

  • Bobby

    Tony, I hope you are a true prophet and that the video game Gods speak through your mouth (or should I say, your typing fingers), because nothing will make me more happy than playing Nintendo games EVERYWHERE, instead of having to buy a (usually) kind of obsolete console for that.

  • Boerewors

    Tony are you insane??? 😉
    I would strongly agree with you during the Wii era btw, but somehow that was a financial homerun. But since I own an U I can’t help to think I’d miss out on great experiences if Nintendo would stop heir hardware business altogether.
    But Nintendo has gone from the popular kid who’s studying hard to become a doctor so he can cure cancer , to the strange mentally handicapped nephew you have you grew fond of and who’s projects you just keep backing no matter the price or goal. “Uncle Bakkies, uncle Bakkies?? Can I have two dollars..I gotta save the dolphins!”…. “Sure kiddo, here ya go!”… 🙁

  • stealth20k

    Who cares? nintnedo will be fine, and going third party is a stupid idea.

  • Stranger On The Road

    So how big is Sega now that it has become a 3rd party developer? They used to be one of the big 3, now their name isn’t that big and they don’t represent a big brand name. It is way to early to write off Nintendo’s hardware division, they are still selling even if the numbers aren’t that big.

    Wait until their big titles are released for the Wii U than think on whether they should be written off or not. For now I believe that Nintendo need to court the Japanese 3rd party developers; help them port their existing HD engine to the Wii U and ask them to add extras for the Wii U release. The current image of the Wii U is that it is the ‘Mario’ console, this could be fixed with few JRPGs being released on the Wii U plus VNs and the like of Dream Club.

    Nintendo becoming 3rd party? They are too focused on being 1st party that they don’t care about their own 3rd parties. They make the HW and wish to capitalize on the SW as well -not just the royalties.

    All that being said, the SW sales on the Wii U is worrying especially for titles that were released on the Wii U plus the previous generation consoles*. The gamers would rather not but those titles on the Wii U; this leaves the publishers with conclusions: 1) those who own both the Wii U and another console would rather play the ‘real’** on those consoles***; 2) those who own the Wii U aren’t interested in ‘real’** games.

    For now, the Wii U should have more JRPGs; this -IMNSHO- should put it on the same footing as the PS4. Graphics aren’t everything, even games with limited graphics when compared to the western releases can be enjoyable [ex. Tales of Grace f vs. Skyrim].

    * Wii U is next-gen along with the PS4 and XB1; HW strength doesn’t decide this, the release time-frame does.

    ** none Mario/’fun’ games.

    *** as someone who owns the Wii U and other consoles, I would rather play games on the PS3 than the Wii U. Hard disk installation on the PS3 is a plus; and the Gamepad is too large when it is optional.

    • Terramax

      Sega are still one of the biggest publishers in the world. You don’t notice their games as much, but that’s down to the kinds of games they’re making (many of which are more niche than stuff by, say, Activision or Ubisoft), and how they market them to their target audiences.

      Whilst Sega have had their ups and downs in recent years, on the whole, they are doing way better than during their 1st party years. Or, should I say, more ‘consistent’.

      If you’re a third party company, you only have to worry about your games doing well on the market. You have a larger variety of devices to choose from, and if a game historically doesn’t do well in certain regions, you simply don’t release it in those regions. For instance, Sega have released several games in the Shining series for PS2, PSP, PS3, etc, all of which have never come out in the West, because they don’t think they’ll sell well.

      Not only that, if a business strategy of theirs fails, it’s much easier to shift gears to something else, make different kinds of games, or switch what devices you put them on, or what audience(s) you chase.

      Being 1st party means, as well as the money and effort put into making a games console, you HAVE to release the console in every market in order to keep your presence known, even if it will sell like dirt, which is why Microsoft continue making consoles in Japan, even if they sell next to nothing.

      Sega never had a console that swept the board. the megadrive took the whole of Europe, 50% of the US, and bombed in Japan. The Saturn sold well in Japan, but failed everywhere else. All their consoles, they struggled to stay relevant in all regions.

      Nintendo are having this problem now. Previous consoles could survive, even in 3rd place in regions, because the cost of consoles and games was lower, the audiences weren’t so divided, people generally bought the same kinds of games no matter what region, there weren’t so many outlets to play video games, and Nintendo franchises were still popular by many.

      But now, the cost of developing games and consoles is too high, as are making games, so they come out in slower rotation, and their franchises don’t hold the same weight they used to. And worst of all, people are constrained to having to buying their consoles to play their games.

      Unless people rapidly lose interest in CoD, Ass Creed, GTA, Battlefield, etc, and Mario suddenly becomes the hottest property, in all regions, they simply won’t entice enough of the worldwide audience to make ends meet.

      And you say ‘wait until the big games come out’, but isn’t Super Mario 3D World a major release? And the other Mario games for it? Or Pikmin? Or Wind Waker? Ok, that was a re-release, but few people bought it on the gamecube therefore are probably unaware of it being a re-release anyway, or have played before.

      And what happens when Mario Kart, Zelda, Smash Bros, and another Mario game come out? Lets say 6 o 7 major titles comes out for the console in the next 3 years. Will there be enough people to buy those few games to pay for their outgoings? I don’t think so.

      • Stranger On The Road

        Which is why I’m of the opinion that they should help 3rd party Japanese developers to come to the console by helping them port their existing HD engines to the Wii U.

        Note, I’m for JRPG but not for another Mario and company recycled games. To be honest, I’ve had enough of Mario and would rather that they don’t put him in every other game. But this won’t be a problem if 3rd party Japanese developers join the Wii U and release games for it.

        The big upcoming game for the Wii U is ‘X’; so far I don’t see any other worthy game in their future. And to be honest, my Wii U has been gathering dust for a while know, the only reason I didn’t gift it to someone is because I’m waiting for ‘X’ before then. Although if they do manage to get Japanese developers to be interested in the Wii U, then the console will be protected at my home.

  • ChiffonCake

    Et tu, Dualshockers?

    >Has it been disastrous for Sega? They’ve been a third party company for years now and they’re doing fine.
    Financially, I suppose, but creatively? Are they really? How many Dreamcast- and earlier-era franchises do they have that people always wish they’d bring back, but that they never do?

    Nintendo really doesn’t have as many big franchises as Smash Bros. would have you believe. The last (original) Star Fox game that we got was Command, 8 years ago; after Other M, Metroid is pretty much in a coma (and it never did very well in Japan anyway); Kirby and DK are doing fine, though they only get new games every now and then; and Pikmin is still young. Really, the only really big franchises that Nintendo has are Mario, Zelda and Pokemon, and if Sega’s example is anything to go by, these three are the only thing we’ll be seeing from them should they go third-party.

    Again, I don’t understand how anyone can think that this is a good idea.

    • Terramax

      As I’ve already mentioned, Sega’s lack in creativity is due to the parent company that bought them after their shift to software only (Sammy Holdings) which is / was predominantly a pachinko specialist whom bought Sega more out of thanks because Sega apparently scratched their back in a time of need years before. Sammy likely never had a passion, much in a way of understanding of video games.

      Supposing Nintendo remain the same entity, and aren’t taken over by another company, it’s very safe to assume their creativity (if you can even say they have any left) won’t alter in any or shape or form. This article makes perfect sense.

      And, on the contrary, it’s likely the only way we would see franchises other than Mario, Zelda and Pokemon is if they become 3rd party. If they become a financial success and flourish as a 3rd party, there’s more money to back-up riskier game projects.

      As it stands, if they have to rely on just 3 franchises to make ends meet and stay afloat, I don’t see the logic in thinking there’s a greater chance of more Start Fox, other more obscure franchises, or new IPs any time in the foreseeable future.

  • Falalala Trolololol

    Sega is a shell of what it used to be. I would rather Nintendo go into financial ruin and cease to exist then to see them become a shitty AAA publisher that nickle and dimes it’s customers.

    • Tony Polanco

      Nintendo wouldn’t become a shell of what they used to be. They have more AAA games to rely on than Sega does.

      • Terramax

        Sega have a slew of famous franchises (perhaps even more) which, under the conditions, would do almighty well. The reason for their degrade in quality comes from the over of another company (Sammy).

        • Tony Polanco

          Sega has a ton of great franchises that can be resurrected but Nintendo has more AAA franchises, big ones that are sure to sell. That’s what I mean.

          And yeah, I don’t think Nintendo would have the same degrade in quality as Sega has had. I never thought about the Sammy thing. Very interesting.

          • Terramax

            Ah, I get you. Indeed, Nintendo games do generate more money than most other franchises period.

      • PatcherStation

        Well, I can’t remember seeing many AAA Nintendo games on the SNES, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii and Wii U. Only a few.

        • Temjin001

          PatcherStation, I suppose it’s in context of “many” and AAA but Nintendo did release or update a number of well respected franchises throughout that broad span of time, including Mario, Zelda, a killer Super Metroid, (I know these are obvious) but SNES also had Donkey Kong Country, Mario Kart, Star Fox, Stunt Race FX, F-Zero and I’m sure I’m missing some. Later on we saw Wave Race, Pikmin, Goldeneye (think this was Nintendo’s publication), and of course the truck load of various Zelda updates or spin offs.

  • Chillbrah

    Nintendo is doomed. I’m going to love seeing some 1080p/60fps Zelda on my pS4 in a couple months

    • Ritsujun

      Yep, poor Nintenducks. =((((

      • Woohoo!!

        First “Sony Ponies” now “Nintenducks”?

        Can you guys at least try to be a little bit clever when making up these nicknames? Frikkin’ lame!

    • fgdg

      >there are people this retarded

  • Alosjs

    Why aren’t you writing ignorant comments on how Sony and Microsoft should make their exclusives as third party and quit making consoles since their games division makes less money than Nintendo does? Why is Nintendo sinking when the 3DS was the best selling console of 2013 and why is Nintendo sinking when the Wii sold over 80 millions units and none of their previous “super successful” consoles achieved that but funny how back then no one told them to go third party when the GameCube was selling poorly.

    This is just an ignorant bandwagon of let’s hate Nintendo, they make kiddy games so let’s put them in our mature consoles since who wants their kiddy consoles trend that’s going on on the internet, and no one dares to talk crap about Sony or Microsoft just because they are bigger companies. And funny ’cause Nintendo was recently valued more than the WHOLE Sony company! Still, some shareholders crap scares all these 12 year old gamers and start writing doom comments as if they knew anything about business. It’s just a hot trend to hate Nintendo, and writers like this one just write these troll articles to get clicks.

    Nintendo has a lot of cash, the 3DS is doing great, and 9 out of the 10 best selling games in Japan in 2013 were from Nintendo, and the 3DS was the biggest selling console of 2013, so why would Nintendo go third party just because ONE of their consoles isn’t selling well?

    The thing here is all these insecure males that only buy PS4’s and Xbox One’s want to play Nintendo games there without wanting to spending on another console or to be seen spending in a “kiddy” console with “kiddy” games so they just want Nintendo to deliver Mario to their new, “cool”, and “mature” Xbox One and PS4.

    Nintendo is fine, it won last gen! It can’t win all generations! That’s almost impossible! Where is the Sony should kill Vita articles? Oh, that’s right… it’s cool to hate Nintendo, so let’s not do that…

    Troll article, that’s all this is!

    • Erik Jacobs

      The 3DS is a best selling console, but it is not doing “great” , It had disappointing sales and gamesales.

      I wouldn’t use terms as ” doomed” or ” game over ” , but this is clear wake-up call

    • Terramax

      We don’t ask Sony or MS to go 3rd party, because they’re conglomerates whom produce for various industries, and make a variety of devices, therefore, it makes sense for them to produce hardware in order to shift their software. They also have other industries to fall back on if the gaming industry is suffering.

      Nintendo are only in the video game industry, as far as technology is concerned.

      And where are your figures that these two companies make less money from games than Nintendo? The 3DS was the best selling console in America because the rivals’ main consoles are over 7 years old and have saturated the market. But are their games making more money than the fees 3rd party developers are paying to make games on rival consoles?

      What you also have to take into account is that, whilst Nintendo have a lot of cash, the real issue is whether they can make more cash in the future.

      Sony and Microsoft have plenty of options in order to carry on making profits in the future. The whole point of this article is the debate that the ONLY option Nintendo has in continuing to make a profit is by going 3rd party. Because making exclusive consoles isn’t economically feasible anymore. The debate is that Nintendo have cornered themselves because of past decisions, and the only way to get out is to go 3rd party.

  • megablast16

    It’s a completely different situation to Sega, who were in serious trouble of going under for ever after being destroyed by Sony’s Playstation brand, they had no choice basically. Nintendo are still secure financially despite recent woes, That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to see them go third party, I haven’t had a Nintendo system since the Gamecube for various reasons but I would love to see a new Zelda on my PS4, it’s just not going to happen though.

  • Terramax

    For Nintendo, pride becomes before profit. I’m not sure which is the lesser of the two evils.

  • Tiina Kallio

    Actually, this is ridiculous. 3DS is the market leader what comes to consoles at the moment. Why would Nintendo stop producing something that’s profitable 😛 Also…
    THE 3DS SOLD 4.5 MILLION ONLY IN IT’S FIRST YEAR. This is just the same thing happening again, folks. Wii U will pick up. Mario 3d World was not enough because there were some people who misunderstood the concept and it’s greatness (never even trying it), but the game-storm next year will put Wii U back on track.

    • Terramax

      3DS sold 4.5 million in its first year. PS4 sold 4.2 million by the end of December, just 2 or so months after release. And it’s not even been released in certain territories yet i.e. Japan.

      “Why would Nintendo stop producing something that’s profitable :P”

      Because Nintendo must produce both a handheld and home console in order to stay relevant. they need both to sell well in order to survive. The former can sell like hotcakes, but this means nothing if the latter is hemorrhaging money, which is what the Wii U is doing right now.

      “Mario 3d World was not enough because there were some people who misunderstood the concept and it’s greatness”

      I bought a Wii U and Mario 3D World around 2 months back. It’s average at best. A game with ideas regurgitated from decades before, with little substance. It’s solid, but nothing compared to some games on rival systems. This isn’t to say Sony and MS’ catalog isn’t lacking. Games of theirs fail to impress also. But they’ve got 3rd party developers to fall back on, if they can’t fight the battle alone.
      People didn’t buy Mario 3D World because there are tonnes of games on the market, on other systems, they would rather play instead.

  • Matt Dickinson

    Why does everybody feel the need to tell Nintendo what to do?

    • Terramax

      Because people want Nintendo to make quality games. They need to exist in order to do so.

      • fgdg

        Going multiplat is the EXACT OPPOSITE of making quality games.

  • Ryumoau

    i agree completely. They would make more money giving up on their stubborn pride and making compelling games on consoles that people actually own.

    • Terramax

      Indeed, and theoretically, more money would be more chance of making more risky games again i.e. sequels to obscure franchises, or new material altogether. Going 3rd party would be a win-win situation.

  • Temjin001

    I’m pretty sure Nintendo has posted profits for several decades up until about 2-3 years ago so I don’t think it impossible for them to stay healthy by maintaining their hardware vision for their customers. I think the Wii U was just a bad call for their company to market. It’s high price seems to me prohibitive to where the market needs them to be. I feel families and more mainstream or casual gamers want to like Nintendo’s family of product. They just need Nintendo to appeal to them at a price point with a concise message of what their platform can offer going forward. Unfortunately, with the Wii U, they don’t appear to have much room for price cuts without taking deep losses. I think at this point with the Wii U it’s all about damage control until they can re-engage their audience with something more lucrative and lower cost for their base in the coming years.

    Personally, I’d love to have Nintendo’s legendary franchises on my other favorite gaming platforms, and I don’t doubt they could maintain being viable if making such a move, I just think it too soon to start expecting them to abandon their heritage of being a hardware innovator and software company and let them see if they can rectify their mistake on the next go around. Their 3Ds did prove to be a big success, even after it’s rocky start, so financially they have built up quite the nest egg to buy them time before having to do anything drastic.

  • Mando44646

    If Nintendo ever abandoned the 3DS and the real mobile gaming space, the games should be on real gaming machines like Vita or the equivalent. Phones and tablets are really limited and touch controls suck and ruin a lot of games – more than they help