Remember when the Wii U was about to launch a few years back, and EA's CEO John Riccitiello spoke boldly about the "unprecedented partnership" his firm enjoyed with Nintendo? What followed was anything but, with EA dropping support for the machine after a string of commercial flops.
However, according to information we've been given from a solid source, it would appear that Nintendo and EA are looking to put the past behind them and hop back into bed with one another. Nintendo Life contributor Liam Robertson - a man known to have his finger on several pulses and an ear permanently fixed to the ground - has been speaking to "several" staffers at EA and has discovered that the publisher is holding meetings with Nintendo next month and support for Nintendo NX is a primary topic. He has now exclusively given us access to the correspondence he's been having with these sources.
It should come as no great shock to learn that EA has NX dev kits - we already know that they are out in the wild thanks to reports last year - but what is rather more surprising is Nintendo's eagerness to get the company back on board after the disappointment of the Wii U. EA was apparently one of the first publishers to get access to NX development hardware, and from the information we've been given, Nintendo is citing EA as a key ally when it comes to making its next console a success.
The sources claim that multiple meetings are lined up for March, and that EA has been discussing several points with Nintendo relating to marketing. These meetings will apparently decide how much support EA - or specifically, its EA Sports arm - will be giving Nintendo in the near future. The publisher understandably wants "a detailed plan" on how Nintendo intends to win over sports fans with NX hardware - something it failed to do with Wii U. EA is keen to learn how Nintendo intends to build up a large enough "sports" audience on NX, as this was apparently one of the key reasons for the publisher abandoning Wii U - it simply wasn't seen as the console of choice for followers of sports.
EA is being quite bold and is asking Nintendo to spend more advertising dollars during televised sporting events like NFL games, NBA games, MLB games, World Cup matches and the World Series in order to claim this audience. The publisher is citing the fact that both Sony and Microsoft spend a large portion of cash during such events, and that EA's titles are given prominence in promotional campaigns.
Another point of contention involves hardware bundles. Traditionally, Nintendo doesn't bundle EA games with its consoles - unlike Microsoft and Sony. According to sources within EA, this is actually seen as something of an insult, and the company will be asking Nintendo to consider shipping NX consoles with leading EA Sports titles, such as FIFA and Madden. While this might smack of arrogance, it's a tactic which has worked well on rival hardware, so there's definitely logic to EA's reasoning.
Finally, there's the topic of applications. Sources claim that during a December meeting between EA and Nintendo executives, an EA exec "criticized Wii U for not having entertainment apps for MLB.TV, NBA, WWE Network, NHL Gamecenter Live, and the NFL". The PlayStation 4 has all of those applications, and EA feels that this is key reason for the machine's success among sports fans. The demand here is that Nintendo ensures NX is able to run such apps, or offer similar functionality to entice sports fans.
Of course, there's so much more to EA's business than just sports titles, but you only have to look at the global sales charts to see that the company's sports-based releases account for a lot of revenue. In this respect, it's understandable that EA wants Nintendo to beef up its standing with this sector of the games-buying public - both Sony and Microsoft have ensured that their respective platforms cater for the vital "sports" demographic, while Nintendo has, in recent years, rather ignored it.
Whether or not Nintendo will bow to such demands remains to be seen, and even if it does, it's going to be a difficult task tempting sports-lovers away from their Xboxes and PlayStations. However, the fact that such meetings are taking place shows that Nintendo is keen to fix the battered relationship it has had with EA and other third parties - companies that will be absolutely vital to the success of NX.