We’re now pretty much accustomed to hearing stories about Nintendo’s incredible worldwide success over the past year or so. The Wii and DS are performing admirably at retail and Nintendo’s resurgence from the grim days of the Gamecube is all but complete.
However, as we reported not long back, not everyone is benefiting from Nintendo’s triumphant return. Amazingly, many third party developers are finding it increasingly difficult to make a profit and in a recent post on UK trade site MCV, Nikitova Games Development Director and former Sensible Software head Jon Hare explains why this is the case and why Nintendo has to make an important choice about how it treats Wii and DS developers.
Hare, an industry veteran famous for producing such classics as Wizball, Cannon Fodder, Sensible Soccer and Mega-Lo-Mania, had this to say:
Good for Nintendo, they have always been the best developer in the world in any case. It is just a shame that this time they had to put so many other publishers and developers noses out of joint in order to ensure that their titles received such high priority on their hardware formats.
Companies such as Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft should feel lucky that at present no international law forces them to open up their platforms as free technical platforms such as VHS, DVD or Stereo. Personally I feel it is no coincidence that the quality of sequelled, non-licensed original software has gone down ever since controlled platforms became the norm in the mid '90s.
The only exceptions to this are those titles that are either developed or bankrolled by the hardware manufacturers themselves and a handful of titles from big hitters like EA and Ubisoft.
Clearly not a happy bunny, Hare says that Nintendo “now faces a moral dilemma”, and adds:
Does it revert to type and admit that it doesn't really care very much about the rest of the world after all, or does it properly embrace working with third parties and all the extra demand that this brings? Either way if it does not improve on what happened at the end of this year in regard to working with smaller third parties it may find that support for its platforms will start to thin out again from the smaller developers and publishers.
But then again maybe that is exactly what they want in order to maintain the hallmark of quality on which their reputation is built.
While we wholeheartedly agree with Hare’s sentiment, we can’t help but feel that the reason Nintendo’s games do so well is basically because the company has an unique understanding of what makes a videogame entertaining. However, if barriers are being unfairly erected to prevent third party developers from fulfilling their potential (as Hare suggests) then something clearly has to change, otherwise the Wii could soon find itself without badly-needed software support.