News Article

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure Could Have Been a Nintendo Exclusive

Posted by Jowi Meli

Developer predicts decision will "haunt them for the rest of their days"

The Skylanders series, developed by Toys for Bob and published by Activision, is currently a phenomenon in the gaming industry, generating huge revenue through both software and the many, many accompanying toys. The combination of a game and toys that directly interact has struck a nerve in the market, turning locked on-disc content into a collectible commodity, and making both companies a lot of money.

Interestingly, it turns out Nintendo passed up an exclusivity opportunity for this series, which began in 2011 with Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure.

According to Toys for Bob co-founder Paul Reiche, Activision sought a major partner to share the financial responsibility, and the company showed off an early version of the game to Nintendo of America; it ended up getting some interesting feedback. "They were just like 'We have never seen anything like this before'," he said, adding that he's always been curious about the exact meaning of that particular statement.

Of course, in the end, Nintendo passed on the opportunity to co-publish the title with Activision — a decision that obviously would have left the property exclusive to Nintendo devices on its début. While Toys for Bob admits this decision was probably best for the franchise in the long run, especially given the wider variety of consumers allowed by a multi-platform release, it remains surprised about Nintendo's choice in the long run. "[It] will probably haunt them for the rest of their days," said Reiche.

This leads many to wonder how Nintendo might benefit from a toy-driven game at retail. With Nintendo's massive library of game stars, it's not too hard to imagine a crossover of Super Smash Bros.-esque proportions driving collectors and children out of their dollars. Pokémon is another example, with Rumble U representing early experimentation — Nintendo has also talked up the role that the Wii U GamePad's NFC reader will have at E3 this year, which is the same technology as used in the Skylander portal.

What do you think of Nintendo's decision to pass up Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure as an exclusive title? Did it really miss the boat on this one, or are its publishing duties better suited to other endeavours?

Thanks to Kodeen for the tip.

[via polygon.com, uk.ign.com]

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User Comments (69)

TreesenHauser

#1

TreesenHauser said:

I honestly feel like it was a silly oversight on Nintendo's part. They should have went for it. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Oh well.

Tops

#2

Tops said:

"It will probably haunt them for the rest of their days" oh please, don't be so full of yourself

Jazzer94

#3

Jazzer94 said:

The amount of money they could have made is insane bet Nintendo are kicking themselves over that decision.

LexKitteh

#4

LexKitteh said:

Their statement is a little arrogant, but having any Wii U exclusives would be a big help right now

ECMIM

#6

ECMIM said:

This would be one of those cases where Nintendo's obstinate business conservatism (not to be confused with political conservatism!) bit them hard in the behind though, to be fair, who knows how far up the food chain this ever got without Reiche naming names as to who received and vetted the initial pitch.

Melkac

#7

Melkac said:

@Jazzer94 I'm gonna guess most of the revenue comes from the dolls, since the last two games haven't sold all that well.

redsoul91

#8

redsoul91 said:

"rest of their days" might be a a bit over, but the amount of money and interest that series picked is incredible and Big N probably is hating themselves a bit for that. Think about how many Wii Us they could have sold if the series stayed exclusive!

WaLzgiStaff

#9

WaLzgi said:

In Nintendo's defense, no one knew this was gonna be as big as it is.

TheAdza

#10

TheAdza said:

I would be seriously broke if Nintendo had some sort of NFC toys to go along with Smash Bros. I can't see them doing it other than to unlock special new characters, but I would spend all my money on the figures.

And it's totally not like Nintendo to rip off another game like Skylanders, but imagine a Smash Bros spin off 3D adventure game with collectible figures like Skylanders. That would be brilliant. Plus an awesome way for Nintendo to start making some money again. I'm hoping E3 will not be a disappointment this year.

shaneoh

#13

shaneoh said:

@TheAdza

They'd have the 3D models to do the figurines through the smash bros trophies. Problem is it would kill my bank account and what little shelf space I have left

MrWalkieTalkie

#14

MrWalkieTalkie said:

Well, I'm just happy that I can get my Skylanders on a Nintendo console. But now I can't help but think of what could've been...

But let's not forget, Nintendo DOES have plans on revealing new, Wii U exclusive, NFC games at this E3!

JuanitoShet

#16

JuanitoShet said:

Well the man's right - the Wii U isn't exactly in the best of states right now. This could have helped stop the console from falling into the rut it's it right now. Be that as it may, Nintendo made a choice and unfortunately it backfired on them.

With that said, if Mario Kart 8 & Super Smash Bros don't help the Wii U in sales, I don't know what will.

ShadJV

#17

ShadJV said:

Haunt themselves for the rest of their days? I agree with what others said, that sounds incredibly arrogant, not very professional either. Don't get me wrong, I realize this was a huge missed opportunity, but it was just as possible Nintendo could've blown a ton of money there, and I'm thinking it was likely they felt they had enough risky balls in the air as it was. And there is no telling if it would've been nearly as successful if it wasn't multiplatform. I'm sure Nintendo realized the risk of missing out on a lot of money (as well as the risk of it simply draining a lot of money) and was prepared to deal with it when they made their decision. I'm also sure they realize there's no guarantee it would've been a success if they took the offer, there's so many variables.

Tops

#18

Tops said:

I think it would have been a bigger blow if it was then a Sony or MS exclusive, but like @ChessboardMan said it might have not been worth as much on a single platform

Dreamz

#21

Dreamz said:

I don't think this was a mistake on Nintendo's part. Isn't Skylander's basically a direct competitor to Pokemon?

hcfwesker

#24

hcfwesker said:

If it had been an exclusive for Wii it probably wouldn't have gotten as big as the series has. It probably would have been seen as a short lived fad (since everything Wii was viewed that way when something new came to the console) and never would have seen the success it has with being released on multiple platforms.

Dinosaurs

#25

Dinosaurs said:

Well I'm sure for every Skylanders proposal Nintendo is shown there are many others that come to Nintendo that also don't end up being fit and not any big hit.

rjejr

#26

rjejr said:

um, no. A 3rd party game on Wii would not have sold $2 bil worth. Not even on DS or 3DS, certainly not on Wii U. Whoever made that comment should show us the per console #s. I bet 3DS is very low and Wii U is almost nil. Disclamier I bought Swap-Force on Wii U and Spyro on 3DS. Also, the Spyro port on Gamecube (forget which one, Enter the Dragonfly maybe) is to this day the worse put together piece of slideshow garbage I have ever played on any system. Barely playable.

And besides, if anybody at Nitneod has any sense there will be a Pokemon toy game. And maybe toys are the reason for the SSB hold-up on Wii U.

I'm sure it might be a minor regret for Nitnedo, but their probably over it by now.

millarrp

#27

millarrp said:

It would have been interesting to see what the sales figure would have been if it was a Nintendo exclusive. Like others have commented I doubt sales would have been as impressive.

ChessboardMan

#28

ChessboardMan said:

While it would probably have still been a big enough hit as a Nintendo exclusive that those who made the decision are probably cursing under their breath right now, I don't think it will haunt them always. There is no guarantee that Skylanders popularity will last that far into the future, and it becomes a riskier investment with each new iteration, where it tries to make itself more and more complex to keep ahold of children's attention. All it needs is for one iteration to be expensive to produce and for that iteration to flop badly, for it to be the end of the franchise.
That haunting statement would better describe the publisher who turned down the Harry Potter books…
Trying to work out what will be a success and what is doomed to fail is near impossible. And even after something is a success after it was turned down elsewhere first, you can't be sure it would have been the same success. Anything from a different marketing approach, a different time of release or a different presentation of the packaging (or book cover) can have an effect.

mostro328

#30

mostro328 said:

I think the best benefit would have been converting the idea into a Pokemon game....is skylanders still that popular

WaLzgiStaff

#31

WaLzgi said:

@rjejr That is a good point. This comment doesn't factor in the success on non-Nintendo systems

gojiguy

#33

gojiguy said:

I hope Nintendo makes their own equivalent. I'd love to see that. Real life smash bro trophies, anyone?

Kaze_Memaryu

#34

Kaze_Memaryu said:

Hm, I don't think Skylanders would've been nearly as successful as a Nintendo-exclusive. And the first Skylanders didn't sell quite as well as Giants and Swap Force, which probably wouldn't have been Nintendo-only either way.

But by now, I can see Nintendo preparing Smah Trophies as collectibles which could provide alternative appearances for a character, an in-game verson of the bought trophy, and/or new content in other ways. Though I doubt they'd ever go so far as to make characters unlockable only by scanning the fitting trophy toy.

kensredemption

#35

kensredemption said:

Ugh...more Nintendoom bullshit. Activision has a knack for making their IPs accessible to EVERYONE. They wouldn't have made nearly as much if it were limited to the Wii.

Sceptic

#37

Sceptic said:

I'm glad Ninteno stayed true to themselves and didn't let their own incompetence stand in the way of other people's well deserved success. But Nintendo wouldn't recognize a business opportunity if it trashed their board room table. They're too busy reskinning the 90s in 720p for us.

Henmii

#38

Henmii said:

If it would have been a Nintendo exclusive the Skylanders probably would all have been replaced by Pokemon! Either way, I guess I would have passed!

sykotek

#39

sykotek said:

This is just my opinion, but I don't think an alternate universe Nintendo exclusive Skylanders would've been anywhere near as successful as it is now since one of the major selling points for parents in the beginning was allowing kids to be able to bring their characters with their own custom stats and decorations to their friend's place to play no matter what system they had as long as their friends also had a copy of Spyro's Adventure.

Being a Nintendo exclusive from the start would've severely limited the audience for the game. Also, let's not forget all the hate Skylanders received for being a game with expensive on disc locked content unless there were extra purchases made. If Nintendo partnered with Activision for an exclusive, they would've received much of that criticism as well. How many parents would've wanted to spend that much on Skylanders when it's possible their choice of the Wii console would likely be because it's the lowest price compared to PS3 and 360?

Skylanders being an exclusive (for any console) would just be a bad business decision, both back when it started and right now. Activision and TFB should be really grateful Nintendo didn't partner with them on Skylanders. If they had, I think it's very likely Activision just wouldn't have the Skylanders money machine they have today. Nintendo totally made the right decision and it was to the benefit to all parties involved.

I still would like a Skylanders and Pokemon crossover game though...that also used existing figures from the Skylanders series and the few released for Rumble U. Maybe for the 3DS versions, c'mon!! :)

ecco6t9

#40

ecco6t9 said:

Skylanders would not have caught on that late in the Wii's life. It has been a mass success but it required it to be multiplatform.

Secondly at the time it seemed consumers were moving away from add ons of Wii Fit, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, DJ Hero, Tony Hawk,

TreonsRealm

#41

TreonsRealm said:

I'm a huge Skylanders fan but Nintendo made the right decision here and it ultimately worked out for both Nintendo and Activision. It's easy to say it was a bad decision now (hindsight is 20/20) but think about the timing of the original game (Wii was on its way out and Wii U was a year away), the massive investment required and the huge customer backlash towards the very concept of DLC (let alone expensive physical DLC).

Nintendo has had the opportunity to buy many developers/IPs (Factor 5, Rare and now Skylanders) and while they have always been inviting/supportive to the developers, every time they made a move like this it just didn't work out for them (Eternal Darkness and Geist spring to mind). As much as people want to paint a pretty picture of Retro Studios, nobody wants to remember the absolute nightmare that was for Nintendo in the beginning (an expensive nightmare to boot). They eventually had to come in personally, strip down the studio and its projects and oversee Metroid Prime personally and that is not a cheap process.

Nintendo hasn't gotten to where they are now (no debt, billions in cash and the most profitable game franchises in history) by taking on the risks of other developers. At this point, they dip their tows into something they believe in (Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2) and when the Gamers whine and complain and sales are crap, they go back to making fresh game ideas based on one of their existing franchises (which people will buy). I completely understand Nintendo's approach and can't fault them despite being disappointed by some of the developments surrounding the Wii U (it is still one of my favorite Nintendo consoles). They have been around for over 100 years with over 30 of those years being in video games and they have survived every console generation since entering the market so despite the mainstream gaming media wanting them to crash and burn, I think Nintendo has a long life ahead of it without the need for gimmick based franchises (and yes, I still love Skylanders while being able to recognize it as a gimmick).

MAN1AC

#43

MAN1AC said:

You win some and you lose some, so I'm not going to chastise Nintendo for this. Its so easy to criticize business moves in hindsight and we don't even know all the specifics of the deal. Ninty is probably regretting this a lot though. Skylanders sells the best on their platform but I believe the franchise has grossed something like 2 Billion dollars or so. That's has to hurt a little.

DefHalan

#44

DefHalan said:

Seeing as we don't have all the information on the deal, I bet there were some factors that caused Nintendo not to do this. But just from this info Nintendo probably saw that they could do something else with the tech and that is why the GamePad has NFC in it... just a guess

19Robb92

#45

19Robb92 said:

New tech from a foreign company.. It was probably considered to much of a risk.

But that's how it goes. I doubt it'll haunt them though, its just business. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Things are unpredictable.

smikey

#46

smikey said:

As Nintendo have stated multiple times they will be showing off more stuff for the game pad & nfc from e3 & beyond.

of course it's a safe bet if they did a sky landers / disney infinity style game with a Mario or Nintendo in general theme (done much better than those two obviously) this site and thousands of sites on the net will be quick to claim Nintendo is simply ripping off customers and targeting all their kiddie game audience to spend parents money)

I personally if done right would love to see it I wouldn't mind buying the figures for my kids or a copy for myself as a collector.
I already own all the pokemon rumble figures even though I think it's by far the worse pokemon rumble game.

and as for regret might be some from Nintendo but skylanders exclusive to Nintendo wouldn't be as big as it is, wouldn't have sold wii u consoles & would have just Nintendo more bad press for the aforementioned ripping off of parents (remember many websites will jump on any opportunity to hate Nintendo)

Pod

#47

Pod said:

Well all three games sold DOUBLE on Wii as they did on 360/PS3 combined, so I think the Wii was okay.

The Wii U, however, could definitely have benefited from the exclusivity.

DESS-M-8

#48

DESS-M-8 said:

Utter idiots. Just another example of nintendo's directionless steering for the last few years. It's just a video game version of the titanic at the moment and that iceberg is coming nearer.

they need a new captain NOW

oreqano

#49

oreqano said:

Seems like Nintendo missed out some extra money. But they usually make decisions for long term. For how many more years do you think Skylanders will be popular? I don't feel like there will be an attachment to that IP, but more so the concept.

AyeHaley

#50

AyeHaley said:

I've said this before: I will go nuts and buy every figurine if they release their own skylanders/disney infinity with Nintendo stuff. That would be epic.

Emblem

#51

Emblem said:

Since no one knows anything about the terms or financial side of the deal its impossible to say if this was a good or bad decision. There are 100 things to consider when making a business deal.

Also if Nintendo were really kicking themselves they would just buy them, they are only worth 2 Billion and their actual yearly revenue is obviously nowhere near that, once you restrict that revenue to just Nintendo consoles and toys its a lot less.

Mk_II

#52

Mk_II said:

The obvious answer is that Nintendo could be planning something similar (i'm thinking Pokémon).

haniwa

#53

haniwa said:

It probably wouldn't have gotten as big as it is right now if it were a Nintendo console exclusive really.

kyuubikid213

#54

kyuubikid213 said:

To be honest, I don't think it'd really matter one way or the other.

Whenever I see Skylanders stuff ANYWHERE (on TV, at Walmart, at GameStop), the only versions I see are 3DS, Wii, and Wii U.

I don't know if that's got to do with the other versions selling like hotcakes or just better marketing for the Nintendo consoles. I swear I even saw a Wii U GamePad in one commercial.

Inkling

#56

Inkling said:

Funny how the latest installment, Swap Force (2013) has been selling the best on Wii.

Inkling

#57

Inkling said:

Funny how the latest installment, Swap Force (2013) has been selling the best on Wii.

FineLerv

#58

FineLerv said:

I don't have any interest in buying ANY toys (nothing wrong with it, it's just not for me) but why do the Pokemon Rumble dolls look so ugly?

rjejr

#60

rjejr said:

@XFsWorld - Wow, really? My kid hated that game. My wife tired to play it but she didn't like it either. guess I thought it's rep as not being as good as the original mean it didn't sell well. mea culpa

rjejr

#61

rjejr said:

@Ernest_The_Crab - As far as I could tell, those toys were exclusive to Gamestop, which kept them in a box behind the cash register, and they were hidden in eggs so you couldt even buy the one you want, and the game was eshop only so it dindt really have any retail presence. And to top i tall off the game was piddling at best. 4 hours, my kids beat it in 2 days, and almost never went back to it. They played the Wiiware version for about 100 hours. And probably 20 or 30 or so on 3DS.

It was a failure waiting to happen on every conceivable level.

Starwolf_UK

#62

Starwolf_UK said:

I remember when Skylanders was first announced I was like "eww, what an ugly Spyro" and then "Heh plastic crap, didn't crpativision learn from Guitar hero". I imagine many of you felt the same so you can't be all like "Nintendo should have picked it up"

@FineLerv That is the design they used in my Pokemon ranch. You know the developer Ambrella thought Polygons would be good idea for displaying up to 1000 Pokemon on screen with. Leaves you with very few polygons per Pokemon hence the art style.

audiobrainiac

#63

audiobrainiac said:

I'm was not super impressed with Skylanders but it does sell like crazy with little kids i guess. Could it have driven Wii U sales a little better? Certainly, however, to me the concept of Skylanders feels like a mediocre game with a ton of unexciting downloadable content, that u can't even download, but instead have to purchase in a retail store. I don't think that kind of shiest is Nintendo's bag and that may have been why they passed.

Tysamu

#64

Tysamu said:

This would've definitely helped the WiiU. Ah well.. Ninten will learn, I just hope it won't be too late when they do.

AshFoxX

#65

AshFoxX said:

Is Skylanders really a thing? I see the toys everywhere but never anyone buying them, and I certainly don't know anyone who has it.

FineLerv

#66

FineLerv said:

@Starwolf_UK "That is the design they used in my Pokemon ranch. You know the developer Ambrella thought Polygons would be good idea for displaying up to 1000 Pokemon on screen with. Leaves you with very few polygons per Pokemon hence the art style."

Yeah, it was an ugly design then as well. Either way, toys aren't limited by processing power so there isn't any reason to keep the Blockachu design.

Sceptic

#67

Sceptic said:

@arkady77: Rather, you should double check the native resolutions of 'brand new' games like Donkey Kong: Tropial Freeze. (psst, it's 720p upscaled.)

But as a true fan of course you don't care as long as it's published by Nintendo, which is why they love to screw us over. (But you would curse any third party dev as "lazy" and "inept" for the same thing and refuse to buy it.)

Sceptic

#68

Sceptic said:

bs free Nintendo said that about the resolution, in a lucid moment, I presume. But I don't really care, I just found the quip about 720p somewhat ironic given the circumstances.

"nintendo are a bs free zone in the industry" is certainly a good one though. Iwata kind of redefined the term this last year.

TheAdrock

#69

TheAdrock said:

This is just another example of N executives making horrible management decisions. Remember when Nintendo created the Playstation in partnership with Sony, then decided to back out at the last second, which angered Sony so much they chose to go solo with the PS. This Skylander farkup is only slightly less dumb.

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