The unrivaled dominance of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 across all sectors of the games industry has once again highlighted the comparable floundering of Nintendo’s Wii U. But this is nothing new; the console’s despair has been critiqued down to a science: It simply doesn’t have enough games—a problem for which third-party emphasis has become the ad hoc solution. The implicit “yet” in the “enough games” issue cropped up in Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata’s recent statement to CVG, which affirmed his ardent opposition of putting Nintendo titles into the multiplatform market.
Specifically, Iwata labels providing Nintendo’s “important franchises for other platforms” an option that could only “gain some short-term profit.” “However,” he continued, “I’m really responsible for the long-term future of Nintendo as well, so I would never think about providing our precious resources for other platforms at all.” This echoes Nintendo’s intent to stay in the hardware business, as asserted by Nintendo of America Senior Director of Corporate Communications Charlie Scibetta, and highlights the underlying potential of Nintendo’s titles.
Putting any style debates aside, it must be conceded that Nintendo is a unique player in interactive entertainment. Although Nintendo does fall into the aptly named hardware triumvirate (Sony and Microsoft included), the company continued to distance itself from the norm of gaming in both software and hardware. The explosive success of the Wii, though disheartening when compared to the slow crawl of the Wii U, forever secured the manufacturer’s place as a system seller, as does the continued success of their DS line in the handheld market. However, beyond market competition, Nintendo wields a degree of iconography scarcely seen in video gaming.
Although Sony and Microsoft hold veritable mascots of their own, such as Ratchet & Clank, Halo, Infamous, and Gears of War, they don’t compare to the undeniable connection that names such as Mario or The Legend of Zelda comprise. The disparity between the reasons for their relation is equally unique: Sony and Microsoft hold sway out of third-party ubiquity; Nintendo, strangely, established its own name-brand empire through isolation. For this reason—that Nintendo games and icons can only be enjoyed through Nintendo—it comes as no surprise that Iwata opposes the porting of Nintendo’s “precious resources.” An argument can easily be made that the exclusivity of its titles is not only Nintendo’s strongest aspect, but the only way to truly reinvigorate the Wii U.
Just look at the surge that the release of Pikmin 3 alone has brought. Of course, it comes as no surprise that, after a painful series of delays, Nintendo fans are all too eager to get their hands on the next-gen incarnation of the much loved strategy title. Regardless, PIkmin quickly became one of the best-selling Wii U items on Amazon—and not just where actual games are concerned. With a new Super Smash Bros., The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze already coming down the pipes, we can expect to see a series of dramatic spikes in Wii U sales, eventually resulting in the waffling console finding its foothold.
From there, Nintendo can look to the third-party releases that every analyst is clamoring for. Having already secured a three-year exclusivity partnership with SEGA regarding the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, Nintendo has clearly demonstrated that it isn’t opposed to integrating other parties into its hardware. Although the despairing tale of Rayman Legends says otherwise, it is worth remembering that the entirety of video game developers has, in fact, not given up on the Wii U entirely. In fact, the only real deterrent at this point is the system’s poor sales (or, more accurately, the low Wii U player count), which, as Pikmin 3 has proven, can quickly be solved.