The impending release of The Wonderful 101: Remastered is one of the most surprising developments of 2020 so far; originally published by Nintendo on the Wii U, the game was something of a commercial flop at launch but quickly gained a cult following – a following which has gleefully jumped on board with this updated version.
PlatinumGames has always maintained that the remaster has only been possible thanks to Nintendo's cooperation, and that has triggered debates about who actually owns the IP now. There were rumours at the time that Tencent's recent injection of capital into PlatinumGames was used to purchase the IP from Nintendo, but the Japanese studio is refusing to talk publically about ownership, at least for the time being.
In an interview with Destructoid, Platinum's Hideki Kamiya was asked who actually owns The Wonderful 101, and replied:
Thanks to the kindness of Nintendo, we were able to do this remaster, but unfortunately, we can't give you any details regarding who owns The Wonderful 101.
What does this actually mean? Well, perhaps less than you think. Dashing video game detective and occasional Nintendo Life contributor Liam Robertson quite rightly points out that this isn't exactly an unusual stance for a Japanese company:
It’s always been jointly owned and them refusing to comment on the status of it is normal for Japanese studios in my experience. They generally don’t like to discuss such arrangements with the public. Is it possible that they're in the process of changing who owns what percentage of it? Possibly but I think you'd get this coy response from them at any point.
So, who owns The Wonderful 101? Could Nintendo still have ownership, or is it something that is part-owned by both firms, as Robertson suggests? Or has PlatinumGames purchased the IP at a bargain price, given its lacklustre performance on the Wii U?
Most importantly, does it really matter as long as we get the remaster and a potential sequel?