PRETENTIOUS OPINIONIST: Why Do Third Parties Hate Nintendo?

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

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The Pretentious Opinionist is a column dedicated to my opinion and speculation. It does not represent oprainfall as a whole, nor the opinions of other staff members, nor does it necessarily have any basis in fact. It merely represents my possibly naive notion that people might be interested in what I have to say.

If you follow Andrew Eisen (and if you don’t, why not? He’s terrific), you may have seen this:

Yes, it’s funny in a tragic kind of way for Nintendo fans. As Jim Davis often says, it’s the true stuff that’s the funniest, but the real question here is, why is this so true? Why is Nintendo getting passed over for multi-platform games, when Ubisoft and Activision have proven that it doesn’t take much to port Xbox 360 and PS3 games over to the console (see Assassin’s Creed III and Call of Duty Black Ops II)? Boiled down, why does it seem that third-parties hate Nintendo? It may just be my speculation, but I think that this hatred of Nintendo goes back to the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

Nintendo Entertainment System PAL

For those who don’t know, Nintendo had extremely strict third-party licensing standards on the NES. No third-party could release more than five games a year. That’s right, FIVE games. Plus, Nintendo would play and rate the games. If the game didn’t reach a certain level of quality, it wouldn’t be covered in Nintendo Power. If it wasn’t in Nintendo Power, it probably wouldn’t sell very well. Nintendo also ensured that non-licensed games wouldn’t work on the console by using a patented lock-out chip that would need to communicate with the NES for the game to run. Now, some companies tried to get around this (most famously Tengen, who Nintendo stomped out like a bug), but overall, Nintendo completely controlled who could make a game for their system and who couldn’t. The obvious question is, why would Nintendo feel the need for such control? Answer: the crash of ’83, which I won’t go in-depth into, because there’s already a very good video for that. By controlling third-parties in a way that forced very few games and punished low quality, Nintendo hoped to avoid the sea of low-quality games that had led to Atari’s crash. Also, Nintendo had a trump card in the form of Shigeru Miyamoto. Every time Miyamoto touched a game, it was a massive success. Sort of like a real-life Midas touch. With Miyamoto and company creating hit after hit, Nintendo had very little use for third-party development, and began to think of third-party games, not as pure licensing profit (as Sony and Microsoft would when they entered the console business), but as a risk to the console’s very identity.

Third-parties were not at all happy with this arrangement. They thought that they could make more money by pushing out as many games a year as was humanly possible, but they didn’t really have a choice, since Nintendo’s was pretty much the only game console in town during the NES’s life cycle. So, when Sega offered a console (the Sega Genesis) that had the power to be equal to (or perhaps greater than, at least at the time) Nintendo, without such strict licensing standards (EA didn’t even pay Sega a royalty, having mostly reverse-engineered the Genesis), they jumped on board as soon as possible, forcing Nintendo to loosen their grip ever so slightly: third-parties could release three games a year, but if the game was rated highly enough, it wouldn’t count towards the three game limit. Third-parties still weren’t completely satisfied, but they seemed to deal with it until the N64. See, by that point, Sega had been making some very costly business mistakes (see the Sega CD and 32X add-ons), and it was looking like they wouldn’t be a major player for very much longer, and since Sega was Nintendo’s only real rival, third-parties were panicked, thinking they’d have to once again deal with an iron-fisted Nintendo monopoly. Lucky for them, Nintendo enraged Sony, and Sony released the PlayStation in retaliation. Sony was much easier to deal with, so in many cases, third-parties left Nintendo behind completely, giving Sony third-party exclusives they wouldn’t have received otherwise.

Nintendo Gamecube

So, why hasn’t Nintendo tried to make amends with third-parties for their previous bad behavior? Well, they DID! It was called the GameCube, a system with optical discs, a controller very similar to the other two consoles, and similar specs. It seemed wholly designed with third-party multiplatform games in mind. Yet, it still got passed over, and don’t tell me that it was just numbers: the Xbox only outsold the GameCube by 3 million units; a pittance by any standard, but especially so compared to the difference between the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox.

Personally, I think that it was the death of the Dreamcast and the third-party Sega born from it that was the biggest factor in the third-party dismissal of Nintendo. Sega had finally paid for its three big mistakes: the Sega CD, Sega 32X, and the Sega Saturn (possibly five, if you include the GameGear and the Nomad). The Sega CD and 32X were barely supported, had very few games of lasting value, and both cost Sega quite a bit of money. While the Sega Saturn had pretty good games, it just didn’t sell all that well, costing Sega even more money. So, even though Sega went in with a “do or die” attitude with the Dreamcast, creating some of the most unique games ever made in the process, they died. Rather than completely collapse, they went third-party. At that time, despite all the terrific games on the N64, Nintendo had only sold about 30 million units of the machine, which was far surpassed by the PlayStation.

Thus began the calls for Nintendo to follow Sega and go third party. At the time, no one saw the difference between Sega and Nintendo. While Sega’s big gambles tended to lose them money, Nintendo turned a profit every year with the N64, and even though the GameCube sold even fewer units, it still turned a profit every year as well. Still, everyone saw Nintendo as a relic of a bygone era. No game companies made game consoles anymore; that was a job for bigger, more general electronics companies, who could shoulder the inevitable losses of the first few years of a console’s lifespan. So third-parties, perhaps convinced that Nintendo was dying, or perhaps trying to speed such demise along, mostly skipped giving the GameCube the biggest third-party games.

Nintendo Wii

Then the Wii was announced. The console had barely better specs than the GameCube, and it used a completely unconventional controller. Everyone in the gaming community smelled a Dreamcast; a “do or die” gamble that would either sink the company or barely keep it afloat. The last time a major game company had undertaken such a gamble, it failed. Everyone who wanted to see Nintendo go third-party probably thought their prediction was going to come true. After all, why would a third-party support a device that was so clearly inferior to the competition? Clearly, no one cared about the DS; the PSP was where it was at. The handheld market that had kept Nintendo afloat during the GameCube was finally snatched away by a competitor. Nintendo was done. Or were they?

Continue to page 2

About Guy Rainey

I’m Guy Rainey. I’m a hardcore Nintendo fan, a PC enthusiast, and a Sony sympathizer. Also an amateur/aspiring game creator. I love any game that puts story as the main focus of the game, so that means JRPGs are my favorite genre almost by default.

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  • Now Nintendo has their game standards so low that we get shovelware, like fireplace simulations, etc.

    • Bob*

      if they rise the standard, then the third parties will attack nintendo for being “draconian” or whatever. There’s no reason to have onrail shooters of resident evil or dead space, unless they did it on purpose to have low sales and use them as an excuse.

  • good article, this is why is stupid to think that nintendo should go third party… i mean, if they work on other platforms, other studios can´t compete against them, they´ll have total market control.

  • Tru Talk

    Very well put. A lot of info that people whose first console was the PS1/N64 and later may not be privy to.

  • Bob*

    Nice article.

    The Wii shown the “industry” that Nintendo doesn’t need them and the industry “hated” that. many blame the dreamcast demise to sega’s past failures but the truth is that, when MS announced the xbox, all companies pulled their support from it. They started an starvation campaign, guided by EA and succeeded and they now want the same with Nintendo.Not making Madden for Wii U is retarded and completly devoid of logic. it’s obvious their true intentions which is make the other companies do the same. Only Nintendo can do that. And no, is not kissing the third parties feet. They need to make their own path like they were doing with the wii before they started to care about them. The “industry” is nothing but a big stupid joke.

    • Ugh. You’re right, I remember someone saying something like that (in regards to Sega dying because of the Xbox). I’m sure that had a major impact. After all, if you were a third-party, would you support a Sega struggling to get by, or a major corporation with money to burn? It’s really too bad. The Dreamcast was priced around $50 new for a time before it was discontinued. It could have easily been a secondary console for a lot of people.

  • no one cared about the ds? umm hello the ds out sold ps2 during it’s life span

    • That was sarcasm during the first page David.

    • Not so much sarcasm, as prevailing industry wisdom. Almost everyone thought that the PSP would be a massive success, and that the DS would be a complete disaster. And those people ended up with egg on their face.

    • MusubiKazesaru

      and it’s repeating again with the 3DS/Vita

    • Spookyryu

      also with the Wii, everyone bet for xbox 360 at the end the best selling console was the Wii

    • MusubiKazesaru

      well it’s to be expected with how utterly pathetic the xbox sells in Japan. I never bet on Xbox, it was easily the worst of three. It was the weaker of the two HD systems and had few exclusives

    • Spookyryu

      Indeed, only in the US has high sells, the rest of the world the fight is Sony against Nintendo

    • Third party

      I don’t believe this for a second. Not a single logical person thought the PSP would be able to break into a market that Nintendo had a MONOPOLY on and instantly wrest control away.

      You have any evidence that this was a prevailing thought by anyone who knew what they were talking about?

    • Micheal Pachter and Shane Saterfield (former editor-in-chief of GameTrailers) have said that they thought that the PSP would kill the DS. I think that this was in an Invisible Walls podcast, though it could’ve been a Bonus Round, that happened to include Pachter; I’m not sure which one that is, but I know that it is still on GameTrailers. I’m sorry that I can’t point you to the exact URL, but it could have been a couple of years since I hear that. In fact, Mr. Satterfield admitted to writing a piece about how the PSP would kill Nintendo when he worked at GameSpot (I’ve never read the article, though I would like to). Journalistic impressions of the device were overwhelmingly positive, Plus, remember, the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 were reigning supreme. Why wouldn’t a company with such success try to wrestle the handheld market away from Nintendo? It seemed to make perfect sense.

    • Ken C

      Plenty of people thought the more powerful psp would outsell the DS. People also thought the DS was gimmicky (The same people who thought the Wii was gimmicky)

      And not a lot of people saw the PS1 as being a threat to the long standing king of consoles, but it happened. Fortunately, the DS was not just a gimmick and now the 3DS is a strong handheld with a library that gets better and better.

  • Yes, I’m sure the lack of third party support on Wii had nothing to do with the console having a terrible player retention despite high sales (many families bought it for Wii Sports with no intention of ever getting another game for the system, and they largely stuck to that mindset), or the Wii being technically inferior to other systems on the market to the extent that porting software was a funny joke and patching software was non-existent in an era of day-1 hotfixes and long term DLC and patch schedules. I’m sure the fact that even Nintendo wasn’t happy with how their “core” games sold on the system was also totally irrelevant and not the trend for the Wii at all. There’s no chance anyone ever lost any money at all catering to the Wii crowd, that’s for sure.

    It’s also not like even the Vita is outselling the Wii U at this point, either, or that Nintendo’s online structure (a major part of many modern games in some form or other) is still laughable at best, or that the next Playstation and XBox will both take the system back to being the graphical underdog that’s difficult to port to. And I’m sure Nintendo (and critics, for that matter) don’t expect every game on the console to shove the gamepad into their design somehow, either, forcing developers to put added effort into something that will likely lose them money.

    You’re right, this is all just third parties being big old meanie-heads to Nintendo, and how dare they! They’ve been nothing but kind to them since the very beginning. The Gamecube totally didn’t have Nintendo’s trademark strict licensing policies and the Wii never had anything like the MotionPlus fiasco where third parties were kept in the dark, and the system is entirely open to indies with practically no barriers.

    No wild fanboy speculations here!

    • Fanboyism is just nationalism in infancy. Rework your arguments. Anyway I’ve read better articles than this one, that makes the same point as to why Nintendo gamers dont buy 3rd party games. There is a clear divide in style and quality most of the time and people who are attracted to more cinematic games +the stuff they create for japanese markets (Sony owns half that industry anyway) usually end up getting a Sony console (Americans/Europeans get Xboxes). These people usually just buy two consoles and play these types of games on the console of their choice if it shows up on them. Its a directly obvious difference in development style and people gravitate to what is more important in their eyes. For me that’s gameplay. If there’s anything else I have a PC and handhelds for that.

    • PlayStation consoles sell better in Europe than any other region of the world, and they outsell Microsoft platforms there (outside of the UK) by a good margin.

    • Well aint that snazzy

    • My argument is that Guy is ignoring just about anything that’s happened between Nintendo and third parties over the last decade. Relations weren’t good going in to the Gamecube, as many had abandoned Nintendo already when the 64 stubbornly stuck to cartridges simply because they wanted more storage space, never mind anything regarding Nintendo’s own archaic policies and handling of external developers, which was still bad enough clear on through the Wii (a graphically inferior system with a poor online infrastructure that had restrictive rules and was difficult to develop for with regards to catering to it’s unique control scheme and also doing so *well*) that with the Wii U’s announcement they were basically coming out promising it would be better this time and please come back we need you.

      There isn’t some massive conspiracy theory here; my use of “fanboy” is with regards to a lot of obvious things he’s ignored, never mind a bit on the side that’s been easy enough to pick up on by anyone following gaming press even in just recent years, to the extent that it almost feels like selective blindness with a heavy overtone of “Why everyone so mean to Nintendoooo?”

    • Honestly the only reason online took off was because of Microsoft. Perhaps that wasnt a big deal at the time and it evolved in its concept. There is always something to appreciate in having a purely gaming machine. When has Nintendo ever needed 3rd parties? Besides the N64 era where they had THQ/Ect/Ect but the did most of the trucking w/Rare(30 games yo). They put out 45 games on the Wii alone. All this PR talk is for the share holders

    • To turn a profit I suppose they really *don’t* need third parties, because people will keep buying Mario and Zelda until the end of time, but historically it also has never hurt them to have those parties under them. Squaresoft made many of the best games for the SNES, and Rare brought us DKC and many (if not most) of the N64’s best titles largely through direct collaboration with the Big N. Namco did quite a bit to bolster the Gamecube’s library, especially in the nearly vacant RPG department with Tales of Symphonia and Baten Kaitos.

      Now, my Wii stockpile is a bit abnormally large I guess, and I can’t say there were any real strong players on the console that made the third party software particularly worth a damn. Most of the titles I own were grabbed out of bargain bins on whims, really, except the handful of first party entries I did pick up. Brawl is great and all, but is that really worth owning a console for most people in and of itself?

      Maybe Sony isn’t getting the same chunk of the profits from its third party titles as Nintendo does from its own internal efforts, but software is a huge portion of a console’s profit and third parties make up a significant chunk of that. You may still make money without them, but tell me the DS would be as strong and profitable as it was without third party support? Sure, you’d still have Fire Emblem and Pokémon on there if you’re an RPG fan, but you’d be missing the entire library companies like XSEED and Atlus brought over. You’d be missing all that Capcom put out, and Sega, and Namco, and everyone else who made software for the thing.

      I didn’t buy a DSi for some downloadable Mario VS. Donkey Kong action, I bought it because that’s how much I wanted Shantae. What’s going to ultimately sell me on a Wii U isn’t the newest Mario or whatever, it’s Bayonetta 2 and Nintendo’s bogarting of the Sonic franchise, so to their credit there’s a move I would consider smart, at least.

      My point is third parties are a big deal, here.

      As for online, Microsoft made that big for consoles, but it’d been a thing on PC by that point for years. It was sort of inevitable, and expecting it to be a flash in the pan wasn’t wise on Nintendo’s part. They have a history of dismissing obvious trends and saying that they’re not important enough for them to bother with yet (see also: Wii not supporting HD, N64 cartridge conundrums), and every console generation something or other in that department ends up making people complain.

      Lastly, I’m not sure where you’re getting me complaining that it’s a “purely gaming machine,” but by that qualifier, the Wii U is no more pure than the competition. Thing’s still got Netflix and whatever else on it, or intends to. I agree not every single thing in my house needs to be able to connect to every single service under the sun, but that’s the way things are going, and even Nintendo is starting to play along. Until Hulu starts popping up in the middle of a gaming session, though, I don’t get why anyone would complain about such things’ inclusion.

    • Exactly the Wii was the last tried and true “sole gaming console” That it’s significance and its place in history. I’ve always bought Nintendo consoles for the outliers that end up on the machine. They tend to be very good. Their 3rd party exclusives are really great but its always been their first party titles that gets the train moving and it really oversimplifies it by just saying Mario&Zelda. Provided they arent any issues 3rd parties will make their way on there.I mean yeah Im really excited for Bayo2 ( I was watching a vid for it on the Wii a minute ago XD) considering I really enjoyed the first game bar excessive quick time events. Regardless Nintendo makes it work with what they have. Plain and simple. They do things by their own methods and that’s what breathes their identity into their products. Thats why we look forward to great titles like the things from Platinum Games/Atlus/Namco ect. People who buy into the whole “cinematic game experience” already have Sony consoles. you know. Sony doesnt really foster their talent anyway, they buy it. I miss Sega consoles XD.

    • Yes but if Nintendo and Sega are in super cahoots here (read: Sega is in financial trouble and made a special deal because Nintendo’s bailing them out, more or less), it sort of makes the Wii U another Sega console in a weird way. Maybe. (People are comparing it to the Dreamcast regardless, though I’m not really sure why.)

      What we need here is daring dreams, though. I seem to recall the two collaborating on something on the Gamecube that is long, long overdue for a return…

    • F-ZERRROOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I’d like to see more of the Sega RPGs mainly. Bayonetta as well on the Eshop. all the sensationalist articles around now adays. Reminds me of this

    • Spookyryu

      Indeed more Sega RPGs, I wish Skies of arcadia 2

    • It is speculation. I make no bones about that (just read my intro). But it is speculation with some historical background. Third-parties could have a well researched, logical reason why they don’t support the Wii U. But right now, I don’t get that impression.

    • Then dig a little deeper, because there’s not a lot of speculation required. You seem to have gotten to about the Gamecube and went “AND HERE IS WHERE NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE!” when even a small amount of logic and knowledge of a couple choice E3 conferences and their repercussions could give you a lot clearer of an idea than some conspiracy theory about EA being a schoolyard bully.

      Don’t get me wrong, nobody is putting that past EA, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on in the bigger picture here so much as a lot of developers being scorned over the years and being very hesitant to put faith into the company or their latest hardware, especially when you have companies like Square saying certain titles they’ve released recently only selling 5 million units “disappointing.” There’s the financial standpoint to consider, both from sales and porting issues that could be caused by the console’s control scheme or online limitations or whatever else. There’s the fact that many developers are now focusing on the next generation from Sony and Microsoft, which puts the Wii U in the same position as the Wii of being a generation behind visually, which means software made for it will largely have to be made *just* for it not too far down the line. This is all basic logic and understanding here; this isn’t hard.

    • Spookyryu

      I only can say that it will be only 30% less visually then the other consoles, and a great game is not built only on visuals

    • You’re right, it’s not. The problem with not meeting par on visuals for your present generation, however, is that developers have to account for that in their engines and art assets, and making that work isn’t always as simple as dropping a few polygons and some texture resolution. Likewise, physics engines are taking up more and more of memory as well, and the gamepad screen means you not only have less video memory and RAM than the competition to work with, but you have to use those resources to draw and track on two different screens on separate devices and outputs at all times.

      Let’s also not forget that a lot of the more visually striking games in recent years have achieved such via their shaders (Okami is the simplest example I can give of this in terms of being obvious at a glance, though games like Borderlands and Darksiders 2 also come to mind), which in some instances may simply require more resources on even a base level than a technically lesser system could provide, in which case the expense to port can reach a whole new level since shaders of that sort frequently have dedicated programming staff in the first place.

      What I’m saying here is that, even on just a graphical level, it’s pretty easy to see where the raw cost of having support for Wii U in a multiplatform game’s scope can be strikingly deterring even if the console’s other software were pulling the sort of sales numbers it would take some modern games to just break even on cost.

    • Third party

      My parents own a Wii. They own exactly one game for it – Wii Sports. The game that came with a console.

      Fact is, Wii owners aren’t gamers, and they didn’t buy games. The third parties that did make actual games for the console found out real fast that the purported install base was a sham.

    • Kaihaku

      Ubisoft begs to differ.

    • Blake Wigert

      Incorrect, your parents aren’t gamers

  • JTShiro

    This isn’t personal hatred to Nintendo, it’s business. Nintendo decided to make two home consoles that are behind the technical curve so if these companies decide to port them it will require more work to do it in order to cater to that tablet (when PS4 and Xbox Infinity release they need to create new builds of games), it took them till 2013 to get a real online infrastructure, and finally all Nintendo games sell like hotcakes but 3rd parties tended to struggle despite what Nintendo has done to support it. There is a chance Nintendo falls out of the home console race (not portables since the 3DS is selling pretty well) if they continue to struggle and have their next home console do the same

    • Spookyryu

      if you think your opinion it’s valid from the business point of view, so why in 2011 everyone predicted that 3ds will be the product that will kill nintendo?, everyone who doesn’t like nintendo, wanted that the 3ds failed and nintendo close the doors?, the thing is guys that think that know about business think that the technical curve is an issue, and doesn’t see the cost/operation of the business, economical surveys, and so on, nintendo doesn’t want to be in the top of the curve because they don’t want to make their cost even bigger in a world in an international financial crisis, it’s call strategy, but I don’t think you will get it, however, keep thinking that Nintendo will fall out the home console market.

    • but there is a lot of egoistic bullshit in the industry (even in nintendo), so even if business work they´ll just do what they want.

      development cost on wii were too low compared to 360/ps3 and games were profitable even with “low sales”, but even with that, western companies didn´t work on wii

    • JTShiro

      It was profitable, but was it profitable enough for them? These companies seemed like they tried on Wii early on, but the western developers tended to put their lesser teams on the Wii version since a large percentage of the install base only bought Mario games, Wii Fit and Just Dance. We’ll never know the true answer for sure, but I rarely saw Wii games on the charts

    • Herding_sheep

      No, its not a matter of technology. Modern game engines are designed to be scaleable. For Christs sake, they’re even scaleable to iPhones and iPads. Unreal Engine 4 AND Frostbite both are being ported to iOS, albeit scaled down significantly. But thats what these modern engines are designed to do.

      Its simply a matter of effort, and in EAs case an obvious disliking of Nintendo.

    • JTShiro

      Very much agree EA is having sour grapes over that Nintendo/Origin thing. I don’t know if Wii U can run Unreal Engine 4 (since a developer from Epic said it probably couldn’t, but the press release says the politically correct “it’s scalable”), but it’s a lie that Wii U can’t run Frostbite

  • Spookyryu

    Nintendo also has hardcore games for hardcore gamers, the competion has manipulated all the gamers telling that nintendo it’s only for casual gamers, and that’s how Nintendo has proof that they are wrong with the Wii, and it’s better to not have EA and their microtransaction around the console.

    • It’s ironic that they call the wii a casual console when most of Nintendo’s games catered to the hardcore crowd. And by hardcore I mean games that are more than just a couple button mashing minigames. Sure Nintendo also had plenty of games that would entertain grandma more than the average gamer, but they also had plenty of games like Zelda that tried to be as close to masterpieces as possible. They worked around the limitations to deliver a good game. Third parties didn’t hardly put in an effort to put the wii to good use, putting out far more casual cash ins than anything resembling something a gamer might want.

      Another thing about the quality control in the past in the early era’s of Nintendo. The market had just recovered from the videogame crash. I’d say a “sea of bad games”, even though accurate still sounds like an understatement. Practically every company had a videogame cash in, even Quaker oats had a videogame. Nintendo didn’t want to repeat that. And 5 games a year didn’t sound draconian to me. What is that like around 2 months or so of development time a piece. If you developed more than that, then are your games even complete, much less any good? Sure, I suppose bigger companies could get a bigger workforce to push out more games, but it still sounds like what they really wanted was to churn out game after game with little concern for quality. I seriously doubt that videogames were being seen as anything more than an opportunity to cash in, and calling it an art form was completely laughable for them. And during the snes era, the limit was reduced to 3, but if your made a good game, then it didn’t count toward the limit. So in other words, you were rewarded by making good games. Make a shitty game, and you might not even get it released. So I have no sympathy for a company that is angry that it can’t release shit on a regular basis. And now down to the wii generation, and even during the gc age, Nintendo had laxed it’s qc restrictions a bit, but the wii it seems they finally caved and just said “fine, release whatever shit you want!” The chains of qc were gone, third party developers jumped on that churning out whatever they had their hearts on, namely bad and cheap cash ins. Except by now, most gamers are privy to bad games, over the years learning what a good game was, we can differentiate and with the internet we can also see other’s opinions easily. So these cash ins have largely failed. Meaning they may be cheaper to make, but are less profitable. But rather than admit that Ninty was right in their qc, they still churn out the same crap, and then attack the wii for it. Ninty wasn’t always right in how good a game was, and we still got some duds in the past, but I believe they prevented the market from completely dying back then. By reducing the number of games that you could release in a year, they were guaranteed at least the crap you released was reduced, and at best encouraged you to actually make your games better. Developers had to adapt by making fewer, but better games. Quality over quantity.

    • Spookyryu

      lol, are you serious?, nintendo has a few hardcore games with the quality so high, I don’t see my grandmother will enjoy xenoblade chronicles, or fragile dreams or sin and punishment, or even metroid, (if you like halo), and its not nintendo fault that the market demand casual games, because believe it or not, the casual market is so much higher than the hardocore market, and also you are wrong, angry birds and plants vs zombies, has shown that can be a good game with a couple of buttons, please the number of the buttons doesn’t mean it’s better, than you will tell us that also the graphics makes it a better game,please final fantasy 6 is still the best rpg game of all time, close is FF 7, chrono triger and xenoblade chronicles, my only guess is that you are still so young, that thinks that halo it’s the best game of the world and 360 is the best console ever, your comments yawn me

  • Thanks for the bit of history, it’s always interesting to hear how our games today got to where they are. Here’s hoping to some success for the Wii U in the near future.

  • At no point in this article do you address a very simple fact: some games just might not sell well on Nintendo platforms, and that’s okay.

    • True! Very true! I could’ve made a comment about how Nintendo gamers are probably not losing anything by losing EA. But the Call of Duty games on the Wii sold about a million copies a piece, according to VGChartz. Let’s say that each third-party game ported to the Wii U sold about 500,000 copies. That’s 500,000 copies you probably wouldn’t have had before, and that would certainly cover porting costs. Just because Nintendo gamers don’t come to the next big EA game in droves, doesn’t necessarily mean it wouldn’t be profitable to do so. And in an time when game development is requiring 2 million, 3 million, even 5 million in sales to break even, wouldn’t you want your game on every viable platform? PC gamers have it pretty good right now, since companies are funding pretty high-quality PC ports, a space that not that long ago was avoided like the plague for piracy. I think that there’s got to be some other reason that companies aren’t supporting the Wii U.

  • John Ellis

    The problem was that with the Wii Nintendo invited in the casual market and this ruined Nintendos reputation, which with them heavily promoting themselves as a family friendly company wasn’t that high to begin with. Now we have IOS, casual gamers don’t buy Nintendo consoles and the core gamer is not going to be very exited about a tablet collector.

    And as good a developer as they are, lately they haven’t been doing to good with their key franchises. they messed up big time with Skyward Sword which was supposed to be a big thing, and with yet another NSSMB game coming out, Mario is starting to look a bit stale. Sticker Star and Other M have lowered the reputation of said franchises.

  • so this explains why every tittle for the NES and SNES is good no matter what and also why must exclusives are top notch compared to the other systems exclusives

    • oofy

      Well, the bar to clear for getting a game approved by Nintendo wasn’t that high. It just had to play without crashing. Have you ever played Clash at Demonhead for the NES? I got it for Christmas one year and that game was a nightmare of a mess.

  • the_sidewinder

    you could have summed it up thusly: Revenge for past poor treatment and people buy Nintendo consoles for 1st party games, by and large 3rd party stuff just doesn’t sell. I own approximately 1 3rd party Wii game.

    • Could have, but it wouldn’t have been near as much fun to write.

  • multibottler0cket

    I think it’s important to remember that third parties have always been with Nintendo’s portables, which have always done exceptionally well (virtual boy is neither a portable or a console :P). This editorial seems to focus solely on the consoles, which have had a very different experience. So, I think the question is what do third parties have against Nintendo’s consoles.

    Though it is true that the NES and SNES had extremely strict regulations and higher royalties than the competition, the regulations were there to prevent another crash in the video game market, and were obviously out-dated by the N64, and Nintendo got a little greedy by then, as well as sticking with cartridges, which greatly increased the production costs. Konami also got around the five game limit with Ultra.

    The Gamecube suffered due to their reputation and to the PS2’s success related to Square Enix sticking with them and due to their easier development cycle, and since the systems were so similar that generation. The Gamecube’s library was much stronger than the N64’s though, but the momentum was lost.

    The Wii… I love it, but man they can’t market it at all. The success no doubt comes from the ”casual” appeal, but the lower specs also allow for a significantly lower development cost, but also makes it difficult to port most multiplatform games. Some third parties rely on this (lower development costs), and one must wonder why Sakaguchi felt it was the best platform for Last Story (my guess is development costs), but Nintendo’s marketing alienated a large portion of first party Nintendo fans, though it is my second favourite console next to the SNES.

    The Wii U needs time, proper marketing, and for the competition to appear. I’m hoping that their lower development costs coupled with the gamepad’s potential for the genre will make the Wii U home to many JRPGs. Probably wishful thinking as a JRPG and Nintendo fan since 1992, but it makes sense. The genre isn’t popular enough anymore to justify the development costs for the other systems, and the gamepad is great for inventory, status, skill, and map screens that clutter the genre.

    Anyway, cool article, but I disagree on certain points!

    • MusubiKazesaru

      personally I think the only reason the PS2 sold well is because dvd players started to be used a lot around that time and instead of buying one, parents figured lets buy a game system and dvd player in one

    • multibottler0cket

      That was definitely a big factor, but I think that key factors like Square’s support for the system and the fact that it was more accessible to developers played a much more important role in the PS2’s success.

  • Bec66

    Really plenty of third party games come out on the hand-held’s it’s the console’s that don’t get the third parties this is probably because of the Wii and WiiU’s controlers which seem unconventional for most games released on PS3 and Xbox360, so really they don’t see any reason to edit a game for a console when it may not sell that well in comparison to the one’s on PS3 and Xbox360. Now with the WiiU however it may get a few more third party games with the new controller.

  • I disagree with the notion that ALL third-parties hate Nintendo. It seems to me that it’s mostly Western third-parties that tend not to support Nintendo platforms. The Wii, for example, got quite a bit of support from Japanese third-parties, for example.

    • Spookyryu

      you speak the truth, so many good japanese games

  • oofy

    A few facts that need cleaning up:

    The way that companies got around the 5 game rule during the NES era was to create a dummy subsidiary. Konami did this by creating Ultra games, which they released Metal Gear, Skate or Die, TMNT and many other games. The 5 game restriction was loosened during the SNES era. The court case between Nintendo and Tengen was not the norm during this time.

    While true that most companies (most famously Square) left Nintendo to release games on the Playstation, it wasn’t primarily because of the limit on the number of games they could publish. The main reasons were the high royalty fees and Nintendo’s insistence on using cartridges for the n64, which were expensive to manufacture and limited developers on what they could put into a game.

    Now, to the meat and potatoes of your article. While there may be animosity from draconian practices of a bygone era, companies will overlook anything and go where the money can be made.

    Example: The ps2 was notoriously difficult to develop for and more than a fair share of developers complained and griped about the difficulty of development for the system and how Sony was hard to work with. But, just about every major publisher put games on the system. Why? The ps2 had the largest installed base of that era.

    Now we have the Wii U. Publishers have put “hardcore” games on them, and how were they rewarded?

    Numbers from VGChartz, for full disclosure:

    Assassin’s Creed III = 140,000 copies sold
    Batman: Arkham City = 140,000
    CoD: Black Ops II = 180,000
    Darksiders 2 = 70,000
    FIFA 13 = 70,000
    Mass Effect 3 = 50,000
    Injustice:GAU = 30,000
    NFS: Most wanted = 20,000
    NBA 2K13 = 10,000

    Looking at these numbers, it doesn’t make business sense for a 3rd party developer to release a game on the system when these are the numbers they get back.

    The picture that is being painted is that it’s all 3rd parties’ fault, but, partnerships go both ways.

  • Axe99

    They rarely play third-party games though – that’s the issue. Take Okami – a game that should really resonate with the Wii’s crowd (it’s not a generic sports/action game, and has a very Zelda-esque structure, but with better pacing, characters and plot) – released in 2008 and sold very poorly, on a system starved for games. Fact is, while the Wii has a huge install base, relatively few Wii owners purchase Wii games like gamers on other platforms. Companies are in it to make money – if they can make money on the Wii or Wii U, they will – they’d be mad not too. Thing is, for some reason they’re _not_ making decent returns bringing games to Wii U – this will be for a range of reasons, be it complexity of development (unlikely), harsh Nintendo restrictions or charges (possibly, but the word is things are a lot looser now) or because they just don’t have the sales to justify the cost of developing for the system (most likely).

    • Spookyryu

      I don’t know you should ask Xseed if they sold so poorly

    • Axe99

      There are always exceptions to the rule, and it’s great that there are, but by and large third parties don’t sell terribly well on Ninty platforms. If they did, do you not think they’d be pushing hard to be on Wii U so they’d get more sales. Third parties try and make as much money as they can on as many platforms as they can, and always have. If third parties aren’t doing business on Wii U, it’s because either the business isn’t there, or there’s a perception the business isn’t there.

    • Spookyryu

      I will just say that only western companies are the ones that are not making it profitable, every japanese third parties are supporting nintendo, and the bussines there, though the world in a financial crisis making the industry slower, everybody said that 3DS will be the doom of nintendo, because the first year of sales aren’t that good, nintendo is the victim of the war console, but as they shown with the Wii, they can overcome any crisis.

    • Axe99

      There’s no doubt that Monster Hunter and Xseed did well, but there are other games that didn’t do near as well – Ninja Gaiden 3, for example. It’s a mixed bag, even for Japanese companies. And even while Monster Hunter did well for a Wii U game, it was an incredibly weak performance relative to the series in general. I’m not saying the Wii U won’t turn itself around and third parties won’t be kicking themselves for not sticking it out through the tough patch at the start, but right now it’s not a happy hunting ground for game sales.

  • ChimeranX

    To be fair about Saints Row 3DS, THQ was having far too many financial problems to even think about developing anything that wasn’t a sure bet. Heck, they went bankrupt and got chopped up into pieces *anyway*. While it’s fair to criticize EA for sheer mulishness, there’s at least an understandable reason for Saints Row’s absence. A relevant question might be if the new owner (Koch Media) of the Saints Row IP has any 3DS plans.

    Otherwise, great editorial. I feel like Western publishers might have created a echochamber, conflating the US/Canada market with the worldwide market. Nintendo can count on the Japanese market to support it – Microsoft is never even a contender there, and we’ll see how Sony fares.

  • Third party

    I think this article is missing some of the real reasons why 3rd parties, particularly EA, are ditching the Wii U.

    1. The Wii U spec really are outdated. EA wasn’t lying about the Frostbite 2 engine not working – the Wii U’s processor is not as strong as either the PS3 or 360 and Frostbite is a CPU computation-bound engine. While the Wii U has more memory and a better GPU – it just can’t handle it. This isn’t EA’s fault, it’s Nintendo’s for not releasing a “next gen” console with next gen hardware specs.

    2. As with the Wii, third parties are being forced to add in a gimmick with the controller that they just don’t want to do, especially in a multiplatform release.

    3. Nintendo wants to control the online aspects of all games, and third parties want control to do their own thing. EA’s Origin spat is just the tip of the iceberg. The Wii’s online multiplayer capabilities are legendarily bad and the Wii U’s whole social garbage integration isn’t much better. Simply put, Nintendo doesn’t get online, and third parties that do don’t want anything to do with someone living in the past in this regard.

    It’s funny that Nintendo used to be nazis about third parties releasing low quality games with the NES/SNES because the Wii had the most low quality third party shovelware games I have ever seen.

    • I’ll grant you that Nintendo (probably) doesn’t get online, but that’s becasue JAPAN doesn’t get online. According to an ONLINE poll, 77% of the Japanese people see the Internet as scary and not to be trusted ( ). And since this was an online poll, these would have to be people who are familiar with the internet. This is a Japanese company we’re talking about here. They probably consider Japan first and foremost, so why would they build a big online infrastructure when their target audience would see that as a negative?

      Now, DIGITAL GAMES are a different argument, but can you see my point here?

    • Spookyryu

      Sir,you are really manipulated by the media:
      1. Indeed the CPU is not that strong, however, the capacity of the GPU, is underestimate it, the reason why the wii u serve 2 purpose, save money and create images that a powerful CPU can do, the GPU is not just for creating images, WII u also uses to replace the cpu, so isn’t outdated at all, probably you don’t know about specs
      2. you said that is a gimmick controller, PS$ will also have a digital screen, and also is nobody forcing anybody to use the gamepad screen to do anything, you can see it in sega’s The cave, it doesn’t use it at all.
      3. This issue is not fault of nintendo, it’s EA, EA the worst company of america want’s to do microtransaction everywhere, however, nintendo doing a marketing research has realize that gamers want complete games, not pieces of pieces of pieces of a game and charge for it, and Nintendo started when there were no multiplayer online, so they started to add this features on their consoles, so is very stupid to say that is legendary bad, because only 1 generation has exploted this feature, and believe it or not, I don’t complain at all of the multiplayer online, I play in WII the last story and I don’t have a damn issue, and WII U, Injustice and also I don’t have an issue, indeed there is an area should be improved, but your arguments doesn’t have anything to prove, and about hte low aquality third party, is laughable yaht you think like that, this only tells me, you are so young and the only games you like are shooters online, so lame.

  • Kaihaku

    Insightful article. I am disappointed by the lack of third party support for the Wii U but not for the popular reasons. I’m not interested in Call of Duty, the only sports game I’ve liked in recent memory was Wii Sports Resort, and I think that western RPGs like Skyrim are better on the PC. What does disappoint me is that there haven’t been many compelling announcements from third party DS/3DS developers and from Japanese developers like Capcom and Square Enix. The DS has given developers lots of time to learn how to develop for the dual screens, now they can take that experience into the realm of HD television…but they’re not really jumping on it from what I’ve seen.

  • dM81

    Great article. I think what a lot of people forget is that Big N will always prevail because they are a great video game developer. It tends to be when the one making the software is the same as the one making the hardware, things just work better(looke at apple for example). Graphics will only get you so far, you have to be truly artistic to stand out from the fray. That’s what Nintendo games do, they stand out from the fray. I’ve played a lot of xbox, went to playstation for a while…Nintendo always keeps me coming back.

  • Heistt

    I believe this is just for their post-SNES consoles, since their handhelds have had great third party support, especially the DS. The 3DS is getting games even faster than the DS did, too.

  • MakotoMikami

    Really? Nintendo punished bad quality games? The why was the market flooded with LJN games? This is plain bullshit, Nintendo has ALWAYS had a ton of shitty games and very few good ones for their consoles, and everything Miyamoto touches is a success? Explain Wii Music or Wii Play or whatever the fuck that retarded game was, I’m SICK and tired of you fanboys preaching of how Nintendo NEVER makes mistakes, but weaving a bunch of lies and post them as facts is a new level of mediocrity, stop being so goddamn biased.

  • Blake Wigert

    What is wrong with 3rd parties? Back in the day Nintendo wanting to get quality 3rd party games is wrong? No company wants to be tarnished by bad games.