Oh, how far has Nintendo strayed from their 1990’s counterpart. In an effort to continue enticing adult gamers and the PS4 and Xbox One playerbase, the Japanese-based company is approaching mature themes with a more open mind, according to a report on The Wall Street Journal.
Whether we are talking sexual themes or more brutal action, Nintendo has been uncharacteristic in the past few months regarding M rated games. For instance, revealed that both Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus and DOOM would be seeing a release on the Switch as a centerpiece of their flagship marketing device, the Nintendo Direct– despite the company’s characteristic child-friendly message.
This isn’t to say that mature themes are new to Nintendo platforms. As prime examples, the Senran Kagura, No More Heroes, and Resident Evil have all found dedicated homes on Nintendo platforms in the past.
In the report, The Wall Street Journal alleges — after speaking with developers — that this is a calculated business move to target core audiences of gamers that have found a home in the PC, PlayStation and Xbox ecosystems.
For instance, when WSJ spoke with developer Inti Creates about their recently announced reveal of Gal*Gun 2 on Nintendo Switch, executives were surprised about Nintendo’s new open minded stance on topics. According to chief executive Takuya Aizu:
I thought it wouldn’t be possible to release such a game for the Switch, but surprisingly, Nintendo gave me positive feedback.
When DualShockers asked Aizu-san (in a forthcoming interview) whether Nintendo of America is stricter than its Japanese counterpart, he mentioned that it’s the first time they are working with the US counterpart on this kind of game, but so far they didn’t have any problem:
As long as it falls within the rating ESRB and CERO ratings for North America and Japan, and it’s not an adults only game, Nintendo doesn’t object to it
But this isn’t a message limited to Bethesda and Inti Creates — other sources close to The Wall Street Journal similarly reports another developer had this to say about Nintendo’s current stance on games with sexual themes or violence:
[Nintendo] was passive until now, but that is no longer the right word to describe its stance today.
However, despite The Wall Street Journals analysis, these quotes indicate more of Nintendo’s internal messaging on how to approach mature titles, versus specifically encouraging developers to make or provide more risqué content.
For those who follow the history of Nintendo’s political stances on gaming, this new persona would represent a fairly major shift from their original roots. The House of Mario was a major player in the creation of the Senate Committee that would lead to the development of the ESRB 24 years ago. Within that time gap, the Japanese company has taken the position of the more family-friendly alternative to gaming — with thanks to the Wii and the Blue Ocean strategy.
However, the move has hurt them in recent years. After the commercial failure of the Wii U to breach the same markets or relevancy as the Nintendo Wii, they have visibly made a targeted effort to appeal more to adult gamers. This includes the marketing shift (noted as early as the Nintendo Switch’s reveal trailer) that focuses more on young adults rather than children.
Whether they will be able to shed that image is another story entirely. Nintendo Switch has been a success so far, with reportedly very strong indie sales when compared to other leading hardware. On top of that, the fledgling handheld home console has been seeing commercial success at the top of sales charts with reported shortages.