Iwata: “I Hope We Can Create A Market That Is Attractive To Third Parties”

By Ishaan . May 2, 2011 . 8:35am

While relationships between Nintendo and third-party game developers have been relatively stable on the Nintendo DS, the same can’t be said for the Wii, where, especially in Nintendo’s home market in Japan, numerous software publishers have faced considerable challenges finding success for their games, with few exceptions.


Going forward, this is a situation Nintendo intend to address, according to the company’s global president, Satoru Iwata. Speaking with his investors last week, Iwata touched upon the subject of third-party relations multiple times.


“Honestly speaking,” Iwata said to one investor who asked about Nintendo’s reliance on its own talent, rather than on third-party developers, “Wii’s future could have been different if Nintendo had made better partnerships with outside companies in the field of network services at the early stages of the penetration of Wii.”


He continued: “Although we have already put ourselves back on track, we would like to clearly differentiate what is our true strength from what we can basically do by ourselves but can be done better by more skillful outside specialists in order not to fall into that trap again.” Iwata says that aspects of this will be seen in future developments of the Nintendo 3DS as well as Nintendo’s successor to the Wii.


“We want the other companies to be successful,” he emphasized to another investor. “In order to accomplish this goal, we would like to decide on the dates [of Nintendo software] after we know the release plans of other companies’ games so that we are able to consider how we can maximize the sales of our titles without affecting the sales of other companies in the short term.”


A third investor asked about third-party support with regard to the Wii’s successor specifically. “Of course, we would like to cooperate with software developers for Wii’s successor, and as I am repeatedly saying, I don’t believe Nintendo can carry out everything alone,” Iwata replied.


He elaborated: “I am saying that we are responsible for building up the market, but I don’t think that Nintendo can maintain the market alone; We are aiming for creating a situation where software publishers will be willing to cooperate.”


Further questioned as to whether Nintendo would proactively “draw in” third-party support, Iwata stated: “I would not use the term ‘draw in’ third parties, but I hope we can create a market that is attractive to third parties. The end result might turn out to be the situation you call ‘drawing them in,’ but I do not use such words as ‘draw in’ or ‘enclosure,’ as I do not like such expressions.”

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  • Nintendo should partner with the people that make STEAM to build the infrastructure for their online services for the Nintendo successor for “networked” services. That would be awesome.

    Anyway, as long as the device is powerful, I highly doubt they will have difficult 3rd Party publisher relations. Nintendo will be market leader since its fanbase of fans of loyal followers of Mario and Zelda will buy it up, so it shouldnt be an issue.

    • malek86

      It’s possible, but I’m not taking anything for granted. For all we know as of today, it might become another PS2 -> PS3 situation.

      • puchinri

        Out of curiousity, what’s that situation? My first thought was that the PS2 was still getting good games even with the PS3 out, but I don’t know if that’s what you mean (I might have missed something?).

        • malek86

          I was referring to his “Nintendo will be market leader”. Even if the Wii sold more this gen, there’s no guarantee they can’t screw up, just like Sony.

          • puchinri

            Ahhh. That’s true. But I think they tend to be sensible enough in most regards not to totally and completely jump the gun the way Sony did. They kind of set themselves up at first, anyway.

    • As awesome that would be for Nintendo to partner with Valve. That team is almost impossible.

  • “Wii’s future could have been different if Nintendo had made better partnerships with outside companies in the field of network services at the early stages of the penetration of Wii.”

    That’s sadly the case, I almost regret buying a Wii, it’s just not useful in Europe, with the exception of a handful games…

    It’s good ,though, they seem to understand the situation and are trying to bring the 3rd party support(the good ones~) back on track, which was quite lacking for the Wii at least.

  • Third party support is nice and all, but the problem is, would it sell? The Wii pretty much proved to me that the audience of it is only interested in first party retro platformers, games intended for a younger audience, or “casual” games such as those fitness titles. I own a wii, and I like the selection of games it offers. But it’s pretty sad to see some of the most interesting games selling 10 copies because nobody knows about it.

    Heck, are there any third party titles on the Wii that was successful, outside fitness titles, party games, shovelware, and capcom games?

    • Sonic Colors, Sonic Unleashed, Call of Duty versions do well (not as well as on other platforms).

      • Oh right. There’s those. (Although Call of Duty almost falls into the “casual” category, and Sonic games are Sonic games) Any else?

    • puchinri

      NMH was at least successful here, I don’t know how well the HM games did (or if they’re considered “casual”, but I hate that term and “hardcore”, so I’m going to pretend it isn’t relelvant, lol). I can think of a few great titles, but I honestly don’t know how successful they were (and there’s at least one title that has yet to come out that we can’t guage yet).

      edit: I almost forgot, wasn’t Muramasa fairly successful? I need to go look at the titles that came out again (I haven’t been able to get as many of them as I wanted lately, so I stopped keeping track of what came out so I didn’t torture myself).

      • I think they’re referring to large-scale successes like Just Dance and EA Sports Active here, rather than the “smaller-scale” ones like Muramasa, Conduit etc etc.

        • puchinri

          Ohhh. Well, I guess that makes sense. But that cuts out good titles…

          • Yea, the definition of success has really changed over the years, thanks to the increase in both development costs and “phenomenon” brands like Call of Duty and Halo. There are a fair few small-scale successes on Wii, but that just isn’t enough for most publishers any more.

            I agree, that leads people to ignore a lot of less-popular-but-great games that do reasonably well, but there’s just no helping it at this point. All we can hope for is that those smaller numbers are still justifiable on systems like 3DS in the future (we already know they are on PSP, depending on the game).

          • puchinri

            Indeed, sad reality is sad. I’m kind of disappointed with the change and others (success, labels, etc.).

            Do you think there’s a chance that it may change in the near (or far) future? Or is it one of those things that it’s not particularly worth trying to forecast at this point?

          • I don’t think it’s the kind of thing you can really forecast this early on… I mean, people complain about digital distribution all the time, but it could go a long way toward helping the idea of small-scale successes.

            Games like Ghost Trick and the like are much better suited to digital than to disc/cartridge releases, since they can be cheaper and people would be less wary of plonking money down for them.

          • puchinri

            That’s true, I guess I forgot about things like that too.

            Heh, yeah, I can definitely agree to that. I don’t prefer digital distribution myself, but I think I would actually rather have certain titles available for digital distribution and I can see how some titles would benefit from it way more (than others).

  • Well, it’s not too late to fix that, with the Wii successor on the way.

  • Guest

    Finally they start talking some sense

  • puchinri

    Sometimes I see people saying they don’t like Iwata or how he speaks, but I think he knows what he’s talking about. He sounds sensible, conscientious and considerate. It’s nice that they know what they need to do and are going to be making an effort. And hopefully the effort will be met very well by third parties.

    Hopefully Project Cafe will get great third party support, but I guess Wii won’t be much anymore. But at least they’re still releasing their own titles for it.

  • PrinceHeir

    i just want better infrastructure and maybe games like Monster Hunter, Dragon Quest, Pokemon.

    that would sell for sure :P

  • @NintendoAmerica My suggestion is to fund exclusivity deals, or even better, “steal away” 3rd-party exclusives from competitors. I believe Nintendo’s chances on attracting 3rd parties should start with sponsoring US releases of notorious Japan-onlies like Tales, Super Robot Wars, Summon Night, Growlanser, to name a few. It worked for Dragon Quest.

    Heck, if Nintendo can afford going back to the arcade, then they will attract a “hardcore gamer” segment, the tournament players.

    This is what I immediately think of at the moment.

    Crap, I forgot to autolink this to Twitter. >_<

    • Doesnt seem worth it considering Dragon Quest IX only sold 1.03 in Europe & North America combined. It would be silly to pay for Dragon Quest title or any of those titles, with such low selling sales in the North American and European market.

      • Marketing makes or breaks a “niche/hardcore” game series. Why do you think Tales, let alone #SRW, Summon Night, and Ar tonelico have been buried by Dragonball?

        All in the marketing.

        • Easy, Dragonball is not a niche game,. Dragonball is the series equivaleted with that of launching anime to the mainstreme market. Dragonball is essentially a mainstream series while the others you mention are “niche.” If a niche game as those received high sales then they wouldnt be niche. Why would Nintendo pay to market a niche game?

          • “Why would Nintendo pay to market a niche game?”

            Because niche games will attract hardcore gamers, which have usually been buying 3rd-party games, which both Microsoft and Sony are abundant with.

      • Zero_Destiny

        Actually that’s the best the series has done in the West and it was well worth it. The money from that is good and out ways the cost. This is actually a step in the right direction. I want to see more good numbers like this for Dragon Quest X’s western release. ^_^ The investment should really pay off with that one. =]

        • How is Dragon Quest well worth it, considering that Nintendo’s other released games gained sales of greater than 3mln units? Who said Nintendo is picking Dragon Quest X for distribution in the US + Europe? Square Enix wouldnt handle it of their own accord?

          • DQ is an investment. IX sold well…1 million units is nothing to scoff at, given that we’re dealing with what is essentially a brand revival here. Baby steps (although, this was a particularly big baby that took a rather large step…) first.

            Frankly, I’d be surprised if Square tried to publish DQX by themselves. They simply don’t have the kind of marketing reach that Nintendo do, and I think both companies (on the Japan side) are well aware of that fact, which is how this deal came about in the first place.

    • I think you may have missed the point… Enthusiast gamers can either be mainstream gamers or niche gamers (or a mix of both). Nintendo — and most bigger publishers, for that matter — aren’t interested in niche gamers. Call of Duty is mainstream, not niche.

      The series that you mentioned…all of those are very, very niche games that no one cares about, and it’s more trouble than it’s worth to try and promote them to a wider audience when your sales goals are often in the tens of millions.

      Dragon Quest is a different story entirely. DQ is an extremely popular brand in Japan, an extremely flexible brand, and one with the potential for future growth because it’s friendly and approachable. It’s also Square Enix’s top brand in Japan, and Nintendo handling it on their behalf in the U.S./EU is an important part of strengthening the relationship between the two companies. A lot of thought must have gone into that decision.

  • Aaah… gamecube flashbacks :´(

  • Aoshi00

    I think something like gamertag/achievement or PSN ID/trophies is a good start.. just an account linking all your game purchases and progresses instead of to the system that aren’t transferable..

  • A better statement would have been “I hope we can make a market attractive to quality third parties, and not just shovelware developers.”

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