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.
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.
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.
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.
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.