Did you know that people have opinions? Who am I kidding, you’re on the internet. You know as well as I do that having an opinion on the internet is a crime punishable by death. But there was once a time, dear readers, when saying you didn’t like a thing that other people liked would not result in you being burned at the stake like a witch. I think today we will pretend that we still live in that time, and hopefully not get lynched as a result.
So let’s be honest here, folks. Nintendo is not in the best standing at the moment. Sure, they have a huge mountain of money stored away, and the 3DS is doing fantastically well, but the Wii U isn’t selling, and in the public eye, one major flaw like that is all that matters. Nintendo’s new console isn’t catching anyone’s favor, and it isn’t hard to see why. Games are just not coming consistently enough to make the system seem worthwhile. Sure, we’ve got Bayonetta 2 and a new Smash Bros next year, but that simply isn’t enough. Not in this day and age. So what is Nintendo to do?
After puzzling over this question for a while, I think I came to an answer very recently. There have been rumors going around that Nintendo may buy Atlus, or at the very least, the Shin Megami Tensei series. Atlus has put out a lot of games for the big N’s handheld system recently, and there has been talk of the next game in the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series coming to the Wii U. In my humble opinion, this is not only a smart idea that Nintendo should totally capitalize on, but in fact an example of what they MUST do in order to stay successful as a company at this point.
“But Jay,” you may ask, in that slightly piercing but utterly charming voice of yours, “what does Atlus have to do with Nintendo making the 5 new Zelda games per month I keep constantly demanding?” Well, you saucy-voiced individual, hear me out. Nintendo is still a great developer making great games, but the work they do takes time. Their staff is surprisingly small, and as such their projects take a very long time, especially considering the number of franchises they have to uphold. Remember how many years we heard about Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword before it finally came out? Nintendo is, as a whole, a bit of a perfectionist. Should that nature be shattered, in a quantity-over-quality campaign? Certainly not, say I. But in order to make their own games and also deliver enough content to make people want their systems, they need to take down the wall between themselves and third parties. Nintendo needs to start making friends and buying studios.
If we want to continue using Atlus as an example, let’s think about their most well-know series, Shin Megami Tensei. The series of demon-fighting RPGs has done well for the 3DS system, between Shin Megami IV, Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, and even a port of the DS’ Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor. In addition, a Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem crossover is in the works for Wii U. Atlus and Nintendo are already making plenty of money together. Meanwhile, there are the rumors of Persona 5 coming to Wii U. It’s funny how easily a name can sell a system, as evidenced at the end of last year when pretty much everyone I knew bought a PS Vita for Persona 4 Golden. If a port of a 5-year-old game can sell systems, think of what exclusivity for a completely new game in the series could do. The fanbase for the Persona series might actually outweigh that of the main series titles, and giving them a reason to buy a Wii U would be absolutely brilliant.
Now let’s shift focus to the realm of the indie. There are a lot of indie games that take heavy inspiration from Nintendo, but I’m going to narrow our focus down to two. A Hat In Time, and Cryamore. Both of these titles are upcoming games that draw a great deal of inspiration from Nintendo. Cryamore is inspired by SNES RPGS and Zelda and Megaman games, while A Hat In Time takes basis in the realm of the Nintendo 64’s best, stuff like Banjo Kazooie and Super Mario 64. Both games have received a lot of critical acclaim from everything we’ve seen thus far, and both, as part of kickstarter stretch goals reached, will be heading to Wii U. Let’s think about this.
Like it or not, at this point Nintendo operates largely on the nostalgia of its now-adult fanbase. The virtual console was solely responsible for a lot of Wii purchases, and now the re-release of Earthbound has the potential of doing something similar on the Wii U. Nintendo is not stupid. They recognize the love for their classic titles of old. So don’t you think it would make sense for them to capitalize on the way other people are inspired by their classics? One of the big selling points of A Hat In Time is how it aims to bring back the same feeling as classic Nintendo 64 games, while Cryamore does the same thing with the SNES. These are people who want to keep the spirit of Nintendo alive. Right now, Nintendo needs them in order to keep themselves going.
Let’s cut to the chase. I can see your eyes starting to glaze over, and I’m sorry if I’ve been beating around the bush to the point of numbing your brain. What Nintendo needs to do is acquire some second-party developers, or in simpler terms, start buying some studios. The big N is sitting on this absurd pile of money and seems afraid to invest it in anything, choosing instead to take the safest options possible. So let the Atlus rumors be true! May they buy the Shin Megami Tensei series, and have that many more future games dedicated to their systems! Buy Gears for Breakfast and release A Hat In Time as a retail game, and buy NostalgiCO as well while you’re at it! Nintendo still makes fantastic first-party games, but takes their time, and can’t rely on themselves alone for success. These and many other smaller indie developers are inspired by Nintendo’s legacy, and so it should only be fitting that they become part of its future.
Of course, there is another option. I’ve heard the occasional suggestion through the woodwork of a different future for Nintendo, one in which they cease hardware development and work only on games, ideally to be published on Sony platforms. While I absolutely love my 3DS, if the Wii U continues to do as poorly as it has than this could be a viable future. Personally though, I hope it doesn’t come to pass.
Of course, the question remains, would Nintendo even take any steps to make such a permanent partnership with an outside studio? I would love to hope so, but their track record with 3rd parties has not always been the best. Or would you prefer the software-only option? Sony could work with them to create a gamepad-esque add-on for the PS4, and the next PSP could have the 3D functionality of the 3DS. I think no matter what happens, Nintendo is one of those companies that will kind of just rely on their id, and do whatever seems to jive with them. Like or hate the Wii U’s library, the philosophy has worked so far. The future will always be a little more interesting as long as the big N is in it.
Okay guys, sharpen ye pitchforks and come at me. Leave some comments and tell me what YOU think Nintendo needs to do to save themselves.