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.
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.
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.