Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nintendo Going Third-Party Would Be A Great Idea... Said No One That Cares About the Company.

Nintendo going third-party... For some, the thought of that is an insane concept. Then again, so was Sega leaving the hardware space. At the same time, we've seen what Sega has become in recent days, too. Regardless, this seems like a topic that is broached about on message boards, comment sections, and other places ad nauseum. When will gamers get to the point where talking about Nintendo going third-party becomes boring? Each discussion (well, let's face it, they're more like uncivilized arguments than anything) goes over the same talking points on both sides. It's like listening to modern day Democrats and Republicans here in the States. I'm just happy no one's trying to push the agenda that Nintendo was born in Kenya. (That concludes the political portion of this opinion piece.)

The fact of the matter is that Nintendo going third-party would not benefit the company, nor would it benefit gamers. Really, the only folks who honestly believe this are folks who own Sony and Microsoft systems, would never purchase a Nintendo console because... reasons, and perform all kinds of mental gymnastics in order to attempt to justify their fantasies. Such an elaborate fantasy includes the idea that even though Sony and Microsoft have not bothered at all to cultivate an audience that would play Nintendo-styled titles (in fact, one could really argue both first-party console creators have done exactly the opposite), somehow Nintendo games would sell amazingly to a user base that is known to far more enjoy shooters, cinematic games, simulation racers, and sports games. I think not.

It's my strong belief that the direction Nintendo's games generally go do not go in the same direction that Microsoft and Sony's franchises go. We've seen attempts at Sony and Microsoft trying to emulate Nintendo's style with titles like Tearaway, Puppeteer, LittleBigPlanet, ModNation Racers, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Viva Pinata, and so forth. However, either these titles have been shown not to sell well at all, or they are released with about as much half-hearted seriousness as Stephen Colbert's persona on The Colbert Report. Games like those listed just don't appeal to the majority of Sony and Microsoft's separate user bases. While they're both split up on two different platforms, the direction both are going is relatively the same.

Apparently games like Puppeteer
just don't appeal to the PlayStation market.
The short term of Nintendo going third-party would result in massive layoffs. After all, Nitnendo would no longer have any need to produce hardware, thus resulting in a lot of jobs being cut. It should also be mentioned that a substantial part of Nintendo's income comes from their hardware, and the royalty fees from third-parties it receives. As a third-party, Nintendo would be forced to pay licensing and royalty fees to Sony and/or Microsoft, cutting the company's profit significantly.

Speaking of cutting hardware, Nintendo would then have a whole slew of designers and developers who aren't up to date and knowledgeable on the hardware that Sony and Microsoft are making. Now, do you teach all of these designers and developers how to make games for much less familiar hardware, or do I simply hire a bunch of new talent? The former requires time, while the latter requires money. Don't forget, now, that Nintendo is still on the clock here. If it's not making games, it's not making money. It's just losing it. Nintendo also posts its financial results quarterly, so unless these veteran Nintendo employees can learn how to work on alien hardware quickly to create games in a fast pace, Nintendo isn't going to make any money. In fact, it will lose money. I'm sure regardless of the situation, Nintendo's stockholders will be none too pleased with the outcome.

Nintendo only makes Mario and Zelda...
if you ignore everything else it publishes.
What is also alarming to me regarding Nintendo turning third-party is the idea that current day Nintendo only churns out Mario and Zelda. This is a common and incorrect argument from those who don't pay attention to the company, but it's one that should be touched upon. If one thinks Nintendo only makes Mario and Zelda now, its most popular franchises, what makes them think that somehow becoming third-party will grant them the ability to take more risks? I mean, let's ignore the Wii and all of the series like Battalion Wars, Excite Truck/Bots, Sin & Punishment, Metroid, Animal Crossing, WarioWare, Wario Land, Kirby, Punch-Out!!, FlingSmash, Endless Ocean, Donkey Kong, Fire Emblem, etc. that graced the system. Obviously Nintendo only does Mario and Zelda. But if you think Nintendo doesn't do enough risk-taking with its IPs, the situation would be much worse if it becomes a third-party.

We're in an industry where no one is really financially safe. We're in an industry where a series of games that fail to light up the charts goes on to kill a developer/publisher. We're also at a point where death can come much more swiftly, just one bomb of a game, for instance, can close up a developer or publisher. We most likely would not see more creative Nintendo games like Pikmin, Rhythm Heaven, Kid Icarus, and more if Nintendo went third-party. It's much too dangerous! These aforementioned franchises simply don't sell as well as certain other series. In fact, they are all lesser selling series. Thus, Nintendo would stick with its tried and true franchises, yep, Mario and Zelda, in order to just survive.

I think if Nintendo went third-party, we wouldn't
see as many risky titles from the company.
(Screenshot of Rhythm Heaven Fever - Wii)
The thing that gets my proverbial goat particularly about the cries and wishes of Nintendo to go third-party is that every time Nintendo posts a loss or has any sign of trouble, no matter how major or minor, we have zealots and industry insiders (who really don't have any better clue about the industry than a lot of gamers) calling for Nintendo to exit the hardware business and make games for other platforms. Why is it that when Microsoft and Sony post their problems (and somehow a one billion dollar loss across an entire company seems more significant than Nintendo's current woes) we don't get the same "Sony/Microsoft should go third-party" articles? Their financial woes comes across as much worse than Nintendo, a company that has plenty still in the bank for multiple failures of hardware. Let's fact it-- the PS4 is selling wonderfully, yet Sony as a company is still in trouble. Where are the articles entertaining the notion of Uncharted and God of War hitting the Xbox One?

It's this double standard that is truly the most intriguing part of this whole Nintendo/third-party debate. The people who suggest Nintendo should exit the hardware arena are also the same people who don't understand or simply don't care what Nintendo's removal from console manufacture would do to the industry and how it would change significantly. As long as they get their games and Nintendo finally makes content for their favorite consoles, who cares what happens to the company, right? Who cares how many people lose their jobs, or how much Nintendo as a company would change? We'll get our Nintendo games on Xbox, a brand where the majority of the types of games Nintendo creates wouldn't sell to most users! Sweet!

In actuality, this fantasy that folks who never cared enough about Nintendo's games that they would ignore them for multiple years without buying a Nintendo system for the games they supposedly care so much about, simply waiting for the company to finally go third-party is asinine to me. It comes across more as a fanboy wet dream than something based in fact or something that would actually be a benefit to Nintendo and gamers instead of being what it really would be, a detriment.

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