Nintendo & Third Parties: How Change Starts With Wii U

Back to the good ol’ days?

Nintendo and third parties have never really gotten around all that well since the Nintendo 64. Many developers feel that unless a game is published by Nintendo, there is little chance for the game to be a success on the Nintendo platform. This holds true for all of Nintendo’s platforms since the N64, and it’s especially apparent in this generation’s Wii, to the point where EA has started just re-skinning games for the sake of selling them.

Thus, it’s easy to understand why Nintendo is trying to change all of this.

Lending A Man Or Two

Just last week, WB Games announced that the Wii U version of Scribblenauts Unlimited will feature Nintendo characters like Mario and Link. Last month, Namco Bandai announced that the Wii U version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will feature Nintendo-themed costumes. What does this all mean? Nintendo characters in third party games.

This is a win-win situation with both Nintendo the third parties. With exclusive features like these that no one else can get, consumers are more apt to choose the Wii U version of some multiplatform titles, which leverages the popularity of the Wii U. On the other hand, third parties can garner the interest of Nintendo fans who did not plan to buy the game originally but will now thanks to these exclusive Nintendo-themed features. Genius.

Fixing What Went Wrong

When Ninja Gaiden III was released earlier this year, it was universally panned by critics. The game itself completely deviated from the series’ original formula and added on to it terrible design choices that really limited the appeal of the game. IGN gave the game a miserable 3.0 out of 10. It’s clear that by then, Nintendo saw what was happening, and decided to take things into their old hands; with the help of Nintendo, developers Team Ninja sought to fix what went wrong, and since then we’ve seen a slew of updated new features, including the return of decapitations and multiple special moves.

It’s great to see that not only is Nintendo interested in helping third parties, but they are also willing to help third parties succeed. Ninja Gaiden III at its original state would not have sold well at all on the Wii U, and with both Nintendo and Team Ninja working toward a common goal, things got better for both of them. Ninja Gaiden III: Razor’s Edge is, technically then, a Wii U exclusive.

Picking Up Lost Projects

Sega is in deep financial trouble. No wonder they weren’t willing to fund Bayonetta 2. And that’s when Nintendo came in and saved the project. Platinum Games was already working on The Wonderful 101 at the time, but with Nintendo’s help, they were ready to do another Wii U exclusive. The devs had said that Bayonetta 2 would not exist without Nintendo’s help, and the joint effort between Nintendo and Platinum games can only mean good things to come.

But will Nintendo stop there? Hopefully not. Picking up lost projects is in a way great PR for Nintendo. Think of them like superheroes, sweeping up those niche titles that only a few people are interested in. By putting the Nintendo label in, they immediately increase the game’s popularity, which is good for both Nintendo and the third party developer, in this case Platinum Games.

Working With Indies

What do Runner2, Cloudberry Kingdom, 1001 Spikes, Chasing Aurora, and Little Inferno have in common? They are all indie games coming directly to Wii U. It’s interesting to see Nintendo actively reaching out to indie publishers asking them to put stuff on the Wii U. Add that to the recent collaboration between Nintendo and Unity, and the Wii U may just be the best place for indie games there is.

But don’t take my word for it. Chasing Aurora devs Broken Rules have praised how easy it has been to work with Nintendo on the Wii U. Little Inferno devs 2D Boy Tomorrow Corporation has praised Nintendo for listening to their complaints about Wiiware. Toki Tori 2 devs Two Tribes have complimented Nintendo on how much they’ve improved their digital distribution systems this past year. If this keeps up, Nintendo may just be the next go-to guy for indie devs everywhere.

Isn’t it crazy, Nintendo doing all these things not just for big third party developers, but for small ones as well? Isn’t it strange that we are now seeing Mario and Link in games not made or published by Nintendo? Isn’t it weird that Nintendo is actively reaching out toward developers to make sure their games will be successful? Perhaps Nintendo really has changed. Good thing, too.

For Nintendo and third parties, change starts with Wii U.

How do you feel about Nintendo’s newfound relationships with third parties?


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