Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nintendo to make amends with 3rd parties devs

Nintendo, hoping to learn from mistakes it made with 3rd party developers in the past, is back again boasting a renewed commitment in luring them back with a better communication and focus on their needs.

"At the times the Nintendo DS and the Wii were released, we could not make the software publishers appreciate our systems highly and count on them. At the time, Nintendo was driven to the edge of the ring," Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata said to the investors. He added that support for the system fell solely on the company itself.

"Software publishers put some effort into creating some titles, but the sales did not reach their expectations on the Wii, which made them think that they could not have high expectations for business on the Wii," Iwata explained. He then added that many developers shifted resources to other similar powered platforms, like the PS2 and PSP. "Because of this, when Nintendo failed to seamlessly provide software, there were no other titles to fill up the gaps."

He then went on to describe that many industry observers speculated Nintendo would leave the hardware business after the hardship the company took with the Gamecube and its continued lack of quality 3rd party software.

Iwata said Nintendo’s philosophy has changed since 2005 when they first approached third parties for Wii and DS. He said the company has been much more open to discuss their new platforms, particularly Wii U, earlier with 3rd party developers. Iwata pointed out that Nintendo is "developing several titles in collaboration" with third party publishers, though declined to specify which.

"What we are aiming for with the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U is, platforms which have much more software and a wider variety of software than the former Nintendo DS or Wii," Iwata told the investors. "[Nintendo] is prepared to invest in order to make this a reality."

Nintendo has had a long troubled history with third parties. Their NES and SNES experienced great floods of support from 3rd parties, but that was back when Nintendo was top dog and there was a lot less competition in general. In the mid 90’s when 3rd parties wanted to move to the compact disc format to increase storage space and forgo the large royalties it had to pay to Nintendo to publish in the cartridge format, Nintendo resisted and so did 3rd parties. The Nintendo 64 saw large portions of its life without big 3rd party games, which in turn lead to game droughts and Nintendo finding itself having to carry the burden of shouldering the system on its back. New comer Sony, with its CD based Playstation shot up the charts to number one and Nintendo has never gotten back its lost 3rd party mojo.

Nintendo makes similar statements before every new console launch that they are going to handle 3rd parties better this go around. Wii found great success with 3rd parties at launch, the problem was it was the wrong kind of 3rd parties. Because of Wii’s lower development costs, general ease to develop for and its more mainstream appeal to non-gamers, the Wii became the dumping ground for shovelware. For every original and inspired 3rd party game, there were 10 more games that could be best described as “junk.”

This miss-mass of quality is not what makes a successful system as Nintendo once again found out. After the Wii’s buzz died down and mainstream gamers bought, on average, two other games, many didn’t return. After 3rd party developers released their made-from-the-ground-up Wii game to dismal results, they fled once again. Just as Nintendo got them back, they were once again gone.

With every new generation of consoles the field resets and every company is given a fresh start. Nintendo finds itself in a very financial secure position after its first place finish last generation and could make great strides in repairing relationships during this next generation. -TNGG

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