The Irrelevance of Cross-Platform 1st Party
Ever since video games retreated from their humble arcades and found themselves in our houses, there has been a debate about a developer’s relevance to the industry. Let us review and speculate the necessity of releasing first party games on third party consoles.
It all started with the rise of Nintendo and the birth of the Famicom, or NES, breathing life back into the dying industry that was home gaming. Following the failure of the clunky ColecoVision and the public outrage caused by the E.T. videogame on Atari, the NES won the hearts of thousands with Super Mario Bros. As Nintendo held the world hostage in their Mushroom Kingdom, a challenger emerged from the persistent arcades, Sega. With the emergence of the Super NES, came the Genesis, and the first console wars began.
HOLD IT! At this point, I can almost feel you, the reader, letting out a groan and asking,
“Why are you bringing this up? We all know about Nintendo VS Sega. Big whoop, Nintendo won, Sega lost yadda yadda yadda.”
Yes, I know, but it is not a matter of who won, it is a matter of money. Ah, yes money, fantastic thing, is it not? Well, surprisingly enough, this thing called money is what keeps companies alive and what caused the conflict in the first place. If Sega decided to put Sonic on a Nintendo console, sales of both Sonic and the Nintendo console would go up. Win-win, right? Wrong, because if Sonic were on Nintendo why would I need a Genesis?
And there’s the rub. If a first party gaming company develops the same games for a console other than its own, than they miss the sales of their significantly more expensive console.
Fast forward a few years and you will find that due to the poor sales and management of the Dreamcast, Sega was forced into this very predicament and is producing significantly less games per year and the quality of games have decreased significantly as well. Don’t believe me? Sonic ’06, enough said. They have also not had enough money nor enough established fan base to produce a compelling console.
With the quality of the games reduced due to the foreign console, as well as the lack of profit from the console itself, a gaming company would find itself reduced to a fraction of its former self. Now that I’ve established this using Sega as an example, we can explore how it applies to the current generation of gaming.
Ironically, the most popular subject line in today’s gaming industry would be the relevance of Nintendo amongst Sony and Microsoft. Much talk about a possibly failing Wii U, and reduced sales goal, as well as the first deficit in years, the articles are pumping out like syrup for pancakes.
“Should Nintendo go third party to iOS/Android?”
And there’s the groans again. It’s one of those “Nintendoomed” articles again. Gaming websites everywhere have claimed another blogger and he’s smearing on Nintendo is his first actual post. “What a world!!”
No, no, no, no, no. As I have shown, it would be illogical for any company to go third party, because with the low sales of their console and the low quality of games, they would not be able to sustain themselves for long, their dedicated fan base would leave them, and newcomers are repelled from the lack of quality in previous titles.
Therefore, the answer is right there, no. Nintendo should not go cross platform, or third party. However, there is a small glimmer of gold in the mobile industry and I’ll make a case that Nintendo could in fact make money off this without losing their Kingdom.
And here’s how:
Rather than full on ports of their games to other consoles, or an attempt to make a full game on another console, Nintendo can do something they have done well for many years: Minigames. Mario Party, Wario land, and Wii Sports are big examples of games that sell well, despite their low production time.
Imagine Mario party on Android/iOS, or even a “Temple-Run” style Mario runner with power ups, a Wii fit U mobile tracking app, an Animal Crossing set of mini-games such as a coffeemaker, designer, hairdresser, etc., and the list goes on. None of these games would be compelling enough to remove Nintendo from the console race, it would take little resources, and it wouldn’t cost much at all. (Nintendo reps if you are reading this, I give you full permission to use all of these ideas.)
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