It’s not a new concept to the industry; Microsoft reportedly paid $50 million for exclusive Grand Theft Auto IV DLC and were even accused of money-hatting Namco in order to secure the exclusivity of Tales of Vesperia, but paying for third-party content is not something that Nintendo has openly admitted to. Similarly, Jack Tretton – President of Sony Computer Entertainment of America – has, in the past, proudly proclaimed that Sony ‘don’t buy exclusivity’, whilst also taking a side swipe at Nintendo, who, in the eyes of Tretton, have a tendency to rely too heavily on first-party production.
While Tretton is world-renowned for talking from his arse, I do believe that particular comment holds some merit. It’s unlikely that Nintendo took his words to heart, but it’s no secret that criticism can be a compelling catalyst for creativity, and Nintendo’s relationships with third-parties have elicited criticisms abound. To what extent you believe their words or not aside, Nintendo have, since the Wii U’s reveal, been promising much-improved third-party support, suggesting they’re willing to learn from, and, more importantly, act upon, their shortcomings.
At a recent shareholders meeting, Satoru Iwata was questioned on the Wii’s frequent software droughts, and if Nintendo had plans in place to prevent a similar situation with the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS:
We think it very important to make several hits from the third-party software publishers within the first year from the release of the platform, while offering Nintendo software seamlessly. In order to achieve this goal, we have shared information about the new hardware with the software publishers earlier than we did previously and built a cooperative structure, and we are developing several titles in collaboration with these publishers. I cannot talk in detail about the names of the titles, or with which publishers we are currently collaborating, because we have not announced this information yet, but 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. Therefore, we are thinking of creating an environment where software from other companies will become hits.
Nintendo claims to have shared the hardware specs of the Wii U earlier than usual, but developers such as Bethesda have indicated that they ‘know nothing’ about its capabilities. To me, this is worrying. Huge, Western developers like Bethesda are of the precise ilk that Nintendo should be trying to get on board. Bethesda, BioWare, Infinity Ward, Rockstar, Valve, Crytek – names that core gamers recognise and respect, names that will sell, and names that will promote system sales. I don’t work for Nintendo, I have absolutely zero inside knowledge or sources at Nintendo, and I have never claimed to. In that sense, I also have absolutely no idea who Nintendo is courting and who they’re not, but if a studio as big as Bethesda has been left in the dark, then it doesn’t fill me with confidence.
After the initial excitement and positivity coming from select studios, promises of core IPs like Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield heading to the Wii U were made by developers Ubisoft and EA, respectively, but their relationship with Nintendo was already fairly strong. So, what about those who are seemingly less inclined to develop for Nintendo’s latest console? What kind of Nincentive (sorry) will be offered to them? Money, of course!
Please understand that Nintendo is prepared to invest in order to make this a reality.
Problem solved? We shall see…