What If Nintendo Dropped Big Developers Such AS Ubisoft and EA?

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I know, just reading the title gave some of you a heart attack.  But what if?

When I arrived in the office today, I stopped in the lounge area to fill up my coffee.  Since my office is on campus, there are usually a couple college kids lurking around waiting for professors to arrive, or meet a company for an internship.  I couldn’t help but overhear two, talking about Nintendo and the Wii U’s lack of an inclusive collection of 3rd party games.  One was stating that he was upset at Nintendo for the lack of games, the other was arguing that Nintendo cannot control third party developers.

The conversation seemed interesting, so I inserted myself into the conversation, “Hi, I’m Essel Pratt, you might have heard of me from my articles on Infendo.com, Nerdzy.com, or even the Infendo Podcast where I go by my real name Scott.”

They stared blankly at me while a lone cricket played  “All By Myself” on his hind legs…

Feeling a bit uncomfortable, I cleared my throat and told them that I overheard their conversation.  I asked what they thought Nintendo could do to entice third parties to be more apt to make the Wii U and 3DS a priority, compared to Sony and Microsoft.  Both replied that Nintendo should give third parties more freedom.  Allow them to be gory, risque,  take the worst of Sony and Xbox, and combine them into a raunchy display of war and sex.  To accommodate the new adult content, make NNIDs decide who can play a game.  If you are under 18, the NNID would not allow the disk to play.

This upset me.  Nintendo is, and has always been, family oriented.  Turning Nintendo into another Xbox or PS would be devastating to the community.  I don’t know about all of you reading this, but I don’t want more of the same…I want Nintendo to remain innovative yet true to form.

So, I decided to play devil’s advocate.  I asked, “What if Nintendo dropped the big 3rd party developers altogether?”  Both agreed that Nintendo would die a slow and painful death.  However, I disagreed.  What if Nintendo, in place of the big guys out there, decided to focus on the Indie developers?  Helped them, make their small budget, sometimes play on a whim, games and make them big?

I received the blank stares again.

One thing I like about Indie games is that they do not always follow the same formula as the big budget games we see now.  Their small nature already allows them a lot of freedom, they do this to get noticed and hopefully have a blockbuster hit rise through the ranks.  Sometimes, even taking an old idea and making it completely new and fresh (Angry Birds for example), can have a huge impact on the gaming industry.

So, what if Nintendo put the big developers on the backburner and focused on the Indies?  Honestly, I think we would see a new age of gaming.  At first, the big dogs would laugh it off, expecting Nintendo to crawl back to them.  Then, as the Indie games receive rave reviews, top sales, and a new world of IPs opens up, the Big Boys would have no choice but to become more innovative in their development.  We could begin to have a new version of the console wars, dubbed the developer wars.

Both of the gentlemen agreed that today’s gaming genres have become somewhat stale and copycat-ish.  That there hasn’t been a “new or innovative” style of gameplay on the scene in quite a while.  Both also agreed that the bigger developers would crawl back to Nintendo in an attempt to reclaim lost sales.  However, Nintendo would probably only sign contracts fro exclusive titles at that point.  Both also agreed that the big boys could survive with Sony and Microsoft, however releasing games like CoD, on both consoles would no longer be the right thing to do.  In fact, in the new world of gaming, exclusives would play an integral role in a developer’s success.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to continue the conversation further because I had to get upstairs to my office.  However, I did find out that both of the students were meeting with their professor to discuss the development of some mobile apps/games for a class project.  I was also able to inform them about Nintendo giving away free development kits to third party developers, and suggested that their connection to the University of Notre Dame might give them some support in obtaining a developer kit.

I am not sure if I will see the two of them again, students seem to appear and disappear around here, but it will be interesting to see what they come up with in the future.

Although I was really just playing Devil’s advocate, I actually came to like the idea of Nintendo focusing on the little guys, and assisting them in their journey to the top.  They wouldn’t have to completely oust the big boys, just focus less on them until they regain some of their control.

What are your thoughts?  Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer here, but the conversation earlier was pretty thought provoking, so I thought I would continue it here.

4 Responses to What If Nintendo Dropped Big Developers Such AS Ubisoft and EA?

  1. raindog469 says:

    Well, I think EA should just take a flying leap in general, and I don’t think that much of Take Two or 2K or Activision anymore either. But I can say with some certainty from watching my family and coworkers with children that Nintendo sold some Wiis because they were kid-friendly but also had the military shooters, fighters and sports games, even if they weren’t of the same quality as 360/PS3 versions.

    Ubisoft gives me more mixed feelings. I think they overplayed their Rabbids hand, and Rayman isn’t as big a draw for me as it is for gamers who used consoles during the ’90s (I switched to the Amiga in the late ’80s and then the PC, and didn’t look back till the Gamecube appeared). But Beyond Good and Evil seems like an ideal Wii U tablet game to me because of the camera element, so I hope the sequel comes to the Wii U.

    I’m much more wary of Nintendo losing Namco or Squenix, maybe because Japanese developers don’t tend to release brown first-person shooters with protagonists that look like WWE rejects, or sports games with annual updates that include roster changes and little else. Also, Pac-Man.

    In general, though, I think you’re right on. All three console makers have become calcified, unwilling to greenlight genuinely new IPs. When Microsoft gets an exciting indie exclusive, like Fez, they release it begrudgingly, don’t promote it, and hamstring the developers’ efforts to support it. They have their “indie channel”, but we discovered that almost by accident and only visit it when we remember to, because even knowing our buying and playing habits, their TV-style ad model shows us ads for overgrown-teenager games whose demos we’ll never even download. Sony missed out on Super Meat Boy, Bastion and who knows how many others too, before they got the indie religion.

    These days Sony may have found the sweet spot as far as the indies go, if the PS4 turns out to be a good console. But if it costs 600 bucks at launch again or they mess with the used market too much, if Nintendo doesn’t loosen up their indie developer relations even more, if Microsoft goes through with their “always online and we don’t care about indies” mentality, there’s room for disruption in the market in a couple of years when the current generation of consoles are finally hitting their stride and a $99 Android or Apple box is released with good enough specs that the difference isn’t obvious on a Wal-mart demo screen, and games from hundreds of indies plus EA and the other guys, all for 20 bucks or less. Games like Need for Speed on mobile OSes are underpowered ports with dodgy revenue models now, but nothing says they always will be.

  2. mtcase says:

    Ok, I hate that drawing. I realize tha ttimes are hard, but I am so sick of people bugging me asking for money all the time off the streets in my hometown, . GET A JOB ,PEOPLE.

    On a different topic, Nintendo may not have EA for the Wii U, but ultimately, they will be fine. At least Nintendo has Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, and other developers.

  3. Seriously? says:

    We all know ninty will be fine. Reading this piece, it never says that they won’t. What it says is that Ninty does not need to be bullied by the top developers when they have minions of indie developers itching for their big breaks. Ninty has the power to show them some love, and reach the biggies a lesson at the same time….all while remaining profitable.

    Right now third party devs think they have the upper hand. In reality, ninty has the leverage at their disposal.

  4. Mattiac says:

    I think Nintendo would do fine without them if Nintendo started to really embrace independent developers because that’s where most of the creativity lies.

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