All posts by Cartridge

The importance of Nintendo broadening the reach of their IPs (movies, TV, merch)

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Nintendo has very valuable IPs, some of the best and biggest in the business, but without leveraging their IPs in a more effective manner they could lose relevance in the public eye. Right now the only people that can experience Nintendo IPs are those that own Nintendo systems and due to low sales of 3DS and Wii U that reach is limited and could have a harmful effect in the long term. Children, one of Nintendo’s most important demographics, are focused on mobile and tablet gaming instead of consoles. If Nintendo fails to “hook ’em while they’re young” it’ll be difficult to attract new consumers in the future. Nintendo branching out to mobile is a start, with the right software it could create new fans, but they could do much more.

Movie and TV licensing: 

This is likely the biggest and most obvious move Nintendo should try next. Their IPs still have a lot of value and could attract a lot of companies in order to produce movies for each of their franchises. While Nintendo could go for the most profitable option, they should try to get the one that can guarantee the best product. Selecting the biggest buyer that could potentially make a bad movie can produce a short term success but will result in a long term negative impact on the image and branding of an IP while selecting a better studio could produce smaller long term profits but attract a lot of new customers in the long term. Launching a game alongside a financially and critically successful movie should show great results and help broaden the popularity of the IPs.

As for who should obtain the licenses, my personal preference would be Disney. They’ve shown that they’re the best at what they do, produce movies. Under their wing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been an astronomical success and they created the best video game movie to date. If Nintendo is worried about the quality of these films damaging their IPs, this is the best company to go with. As for Disney, having the rights to make movies based on franchises like Mario, Zelda, and Super Smash Bros. should prove very enticing. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is massively successful brand and was their key into the superhero movie genre of films. Being in the forefront of the videogame movie genre with the right IPs could gain them access to another string of successes, especially if videogame movies explode in popularity like the superhero genre did a few years ago. Netflix is also an acceptable choice, producing quality exclusive content that have been big hits with watchers.

The Universal Theme Park deal does throw a shovel into those plans, though. Having the exclusive rights to produce theme park rides for Nintendo IPs might make it a tougher sell for Disney after dealing with the nightmare that was the pre-buyout Marvel licensing deals. Universal is also a producer of films with their own animation studio, Illumination Entertainment, the creators of the Minions. Unfortunately, it seems likely that Nintendo is going to work with them to produce animated movies. Just speculation at this point, but would make sense after the theme park deal.

Ratchet and Clank is one of the latest franchises to attempt the move to film and is the perfect example of what could go wrong while choosing a studio that is not up for the task of creating a quality movie based on your franchise. With a 18% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossing just above $5 million, it’s both a commercial and critical flop in the grand scheme of things and has likely done nothing good for Sony or the good standing of the Ratchet and Clank franchise after the recently released and well recieved video game reboot.

 

Some minor speculation: 

Nintendo has been working with a lot of animation studios to promote some of their bigger releases. Kid Icarus Uprising was the first to receive this treatment with 4 different animated studios working on small, unrelated shorts to promote the Sakurai directed reboot. Similarly, Sakurai’s Smash for 3DS and Smash for Wii U received various shorts as promotion as an alternative to creating them for a single player mode. Sakurai isn’t the only one that has taken an interest in this form of promotion as Miyamoto also spearheaded a few of his own with the great Pikmin 3 shorts and Star Fox: The Battle Begins. Might be looking to into things, but maybe they’re shopping their IPs around to various anime studios to see if they’re a good fit for each franchise? The Star Fox and Pikmin ones are perfect companion pieces to their respected games, and the Star Fox ones even features better characterization than in the actual games so it seems to show promise that the quality of potential movies or animated series could be quite good.

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No rest for the best

Merchandising: 

Nintendo has admittedly improved quite a bit in this aspect. A few years ago there was almost no Nintendo merchandise for collectors and fans, especially not outside of Japan. Their recent partnership with Jakks Pacific has shown results with a lot of new merchandise covering more franchises than just the average Super Mario line of characters. The quality was a bit mixed at first, but they’ve gotten better recently.

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Nintendo’s amiibo line still shows a tremendous amount of potential for growth. The concept of amiibo allows any game to have a line of NFC figures or cards. The NFC compatible amiibo can vary in size, art style, quality, and quantity given the game. Being figures with in game usage elevates them above the average collectable figure. Of all the merchandising opportunities out there, this shows the most promise and potential to be massive.

Mobile:

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Not much more to say on mobile since they’re already attempting to break into that market. MyNintendo is a great idea but needs additional work, but it’s a good start so far. Convincing users to create a Nintendo Account/MyNintendo will lower the barrier of entry for newcomers and is a major goal for them. They’ll need money makers soon and hopefully they’ll find their own success in that cut throat market.

Something they should desperately look into is bringing native amiibo support to iPhone and Android. Currently, Nintendo is locked to a market of around 30 million potential customers with the amiibo compatible New 3DS and Wii U. With NFC enabled mobile phones supporting amiibo Nintendo could have access to potentially billions of new consumers. Apple currently blocks non authorized NFC functions, so negotiations must be made, but the potential for growth in the amiibo sector is pretty massive.

Synergy: 

Nintendo’s IPs are some of the biggest in the business, and the potential to branch them out to other mediums is huge. An established video game franchise can promote the existence of a movie, the movie can promote the franchise to those without Nintendo consoles, those can later be exposed to the franchise via mobile or merchandising and maybe dabble in some amiibo and all of that can promote sales of future installments of said video game franchise. Amiibo’s game functionality combined with its collectable nature makes it perfectly poised to take advantage of this synergy.

There’s a lot of potential for new revenue streams for Nintendo by taking proper advantage of their IPs. The long term success of Pokemon is partially attributed to the proper management of the IP and its licensing so Nintendo knows it works. If Nintendo wants to make sure they’ll always have an audience to buy their games and not be stuck with lackluster hardware sales for an entire generation, unlike Wii U, they must look into achieving this in a timely matter. It must be done, but it has to be done well less the face the negative impact of exposing a mass audience to your IP in a negative light.

Thanks, ZhugeEX, for the idea that this article is based on.

Nintendo hoping to not sell the NX at a loss

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From the recent Q&A, Kimishima mentioned that they do not expect to take a loss with the NX hardware sales due to a better environment.

“When Wii U was launched, the yen was very strong. I am assuming that situation will not repeat itself. Selling at a loss at launch would not support the business, so we are keeping that mind in developing NX.”

This does not indicate that the system itself will be very expensive, weak, or both like the Wii U was, but that due to favorable circumstances including the lowered value of the yen it’s likely to be more profitable outside of Japan.

A small explanation of the yen situation

New MyNintendo coupon rewards are now available

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MyNintendo is offering new coupons to get discounts on popular Nintendo games on the eShop. Some can be redeemed via Platinum coins while others are redeemed via Gold coins

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Platinum 15% off coupons:

Mario and Donkey Kong March of the Minis

Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon

Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii re-release)

Pikmin 3

Dr. Luigi

Gold 30% off coupons:

The Wonderful 101 (highly recommended)

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii re-release)

Tomodachi Life

 

 

 

Splatoon getting new amiibo including Callie and Marie

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Announced during Splatoon Koshien 2017

Here’s the North American trailer:

Will be available in a dual pack for $24.99 in July 8th. They’ll perform songs for you when summoned. These include songs not previously included in Splatoon. If you want to listen to them check them out on this post

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Also coming are color variants from the original Splatoon amiibo line sold separately or in a bundle for the normal MSRP.

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NX shared library and why it’s exciting

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It’s becoming more and more apparent that Nintendo is trying something new with how they handle their hardware business. While creating the next generation of Nintendo hardware, Iwata looked at iOS and Android as inspiration  (Q&A #5). He noted that porting from Wii to 3DS or 3DS to Wii U currently requires a lot of effort so it’s not something that’s worth doing in most cases causing software shortages in some cases. If the development ecosystem was more like iOS or Android they could release a game on several different devices without too much effort. This does not mean Nintendo is creating a single device being hybrid console, in fact Nintendo could potentially release 3 or more form factors while being able to supply enough software for all without having to radically increase the size of its development houses. If they pull this off well, it could mean great things for Nintendo’s future systems.

Currently, to get a decent amount of software as a Nintendo only fan you would need to purchase both their console and their handheld. As Emily Rogers wrote in her recent blog post this also results in redundancies in Nintendo’s output. They need to create two different versions of Mario Kart, two different Mario games, two different Zelda games, two different Smash bros games, two diffe-…you get the point. This means Nintendo would either leave their fans dissatisfied, or casual fans would only pick up one system over the other. In their most recent generation, for example, a fan could feel satisfied with just a 3DS since they got installments of their favorite NIntendo games on a system that costs over $100 less. While a shared library would seem to make this just as bad, if not worse, it really doesn’t if you look at the situation closely. When Nintendo makes a game they needed to decide where to put it. It would sell better on the 3DS, but they needed to support the Wii U as well. With a shared library this wouldn’t be the case, they can support two+ systems without having serious droughts and maximizing software sales in case one system underperforms. They just need one system to do well and they’ll be fine instead of facing serious hardships if another Wii U situation happens again.

In terms of the rate of software output on a given platform and the total variety of software this should show a massive improvement. As mentioned previously, Nintendo’s software output is fairly redundant if you own two devices. With a shared library they no longer have to go and rush out a game to pad out the library of a system and the freed up resources could be put towards long term support of the games (as a service like Splatoon, DLC like in MK8) or just new original games. For example, the lack of an Animal Crossing game on the Wii U likely resulted in Splatoon alongside those AC spinoffs which was of great benefit last year. Not having to make two different Mario Kart games could result in the freed up teams making a new F-Zero game or DLC. The most obvious part would be just the general increase of software per given platform. Let’s say that on average their console output per year is 8 games and their handheld output is 12 games per year, so if they combined their output it should result in around 15+ games per year per system. Imagine even the first half of this year and its output despite being a transitional period on a single system. Having Bravely Second, Hyrule Warriors Legends, Zero Time Dilema, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Pokken, Fire Emblem Fates, Mirage Sessions #FE, Twilight Princess HD, Kirby Planet Robobot, Final Fantasy Explorers, and Star Fox Zero along with some other small digital within 6 months titles without having to buy two systems.

This is a crucial decision they had to make, one that I don’t see them being able to continue without. It was very difficult to provide software for their platforms on the Wii U and 3DS, another generational leap with the same issues would have proven disastrous otherwise. Their console development would be very expensive especially if the sales weren’t there to justify producing games and even their portable games would see a fairly large increase in budget if the power goes from PS2 era to 360 era similarly to Sony’s Playstation Vita. The japanese devs that made games for the PSP didn’t come back in a lot of cases due to the increased cost of developing for the platform and the limited install base, but if developers create their games with the console ports in mind it should be considerably more attractive to them (look at PSV games getting PS4 ports). This can also be the return of mid tier games if they charge the same as 3DS games or slightly higher making smaller games like Star Fox, Chibi Robo, and many 3rd party Japanese games easier to sell with more varied pricing methods.

The biggest potential issue with a shared library is less games fully taking advantage of the power of the console. Of course, something I didn’t mention is that not all games on NX will be playable on both systems, exclusives will likely occur with the likes of 3rd party AAA multiplatform games and maybe the occasional 1st party game like Zelda or Xenoblade. In most cases with 1st party software you’ll see them being playable on both systems meaning they’ll have to be built around the handheld. This wouldn’t mean much for certain games. The NSMB games, for example, would likely not suffer much by the limitations, neither would games like Donkey Kong Country Tropical freeze. The biggest issue Nintendo will need to manage is how to make these games more palatable for the home console consumer. Lower prices would be good, as would cross buy (something I believe to be crucial), but Nintendo likely needs to do more with their games instead of just releasing a 540p game on a modern home console.

4k or VR?

It would prove to be very beneficial if Nintendo attempts to create their with one of these two selling points, both being big buzzwords even if the games wouldn’t be the most technically advanced looking games in the market. Both are very difficult to do, VR requires simpler looking games with limited scope to work properly and you can’t make a big budget, cutting edge game run decently in 4k. Being based off of a simpler looking game with strong art direction could make one of these two doable with the NX depending on how powerful they want to make the home console. If VR headsets take off they can provide a lot of VR experiences with a low barrier of entry, same for 4k television. These are just two examples of how they could take advantage of their simpler looking portable games but make it more valuable for the console owner.

They could very well always just go 1080p 60fps, which would honestly be good enough based off of HD screenshots of 3DS games:

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Smash could be the best case scenario sharing assets easily between the two while still being essentially the same thing. Smash ended up being a massive success for Nintendo as well. Honestly either of these would work, but hopefully Nintendo puts in the extra effort on their first party offerings

Thanks: Winnie, Geo, and Emily!