Posted on July 09 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Whenever I come across articles like this I always get a chuckle. There are definitely a lot of gamers out there that simply don’t like Nintendo, but some of their claims seem laughable at first glance. As an example, here is a quote from a nice little fan rant over at VGchartz:
Nintendo holds a very special place in the hearts of millions (if not billions) of gamers around the world, and for good reason. Not only are the almost singlehandedly responsible for gaming’s place in pop culture today, but their many mascots and franchises are beloved the world over, from Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Metroid, Kirby, and many more. There appears to have been a paradigm shift in recent years, however. As years go by, Nintendo seems to care less and less about the fanbase that brought them where they were today. Between their lack of new IP’s for the Wii, or their blatant refusal to bring highly demanded titles to North America, it is clear that Nintendo has seen better days. However, there is a company that is actively trying to take Nintendo’s place: Sony.
First off, I am not about to discredit what Sony has done with New IP’s. Heavy Rain, as an example, is brilliant… even if it’s not directly the cause of Sony themselves. However, if your going to include games Sony didn’t actually create but merely published, one could argue then that we should be looking at Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower as 3 “new” Nintendo franchises/games that are top shelf hard core quality. It’s still too soon to say these titles wont ever come out in the states.
Sony Computer Entertainment, long known in the industry as second fiddle to the might Nintendo, are finally coming into their own as a company that gamers can consistently turn to for quality. Yes, they’ve been on the map for their PlayStation brand for the last 15 years now, but it isn’t until recently that they’re finally becoming known more for their first-party titles and exclusives.
Let’s look at the number of new, first-party IP’s that Sony has introduced in the last decade. Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper. God of War, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Resistance, LittleBigPlanet, Killzone, Heavy Rain, the list goes on and on. Compare that to the number of first party IP’s that Nintendo has brought to the table, you will find Pikmin, and that’s about it. For the last 15 years, Nintendo’s entire first party success has relied solely milking the franchises that put them on the map in the 80’s and 90’s. You could argue that the Wii brought innovation with its motion controls, but other than Wii Play, Wii Music, and Wii Fit, how many first party Nintendo titles were released that weren’t part of the series listed above? Almost none.
Sony remains the only first-party publisher that actively tries to introduce new IP’s to the market. Sure, Microsoft is up there (and they’re certainly ahead of Nintendo), but their only new IP in recent years has been the criminally underrated Alan Wake, and they have been coasting off the success of Halo and Gears of War for some time now. Sony, however, continuously puts out new and innovative IP’s, with LittleBigPlanet, InFAMOUS, and Heavy Rain all out in the last couple years alone.
For starters here, I really appreciate what Sony brings to the table. I have appreciated it for several years, and I am not one to sit here and tout that Nintendo is way better just because they are Nintendo. The entire premise of this debate is that Nintendo is losing the core gamer, and Sony is slowly building up a new base of core gamers with their console. This is true, but are any of the games listed here really what people think of when they think Sony? I think the only game Sony has that is universally considered part of their image is God of War. Not that we aren’t aware of their other exclusives, but Sony lacks one thing Nintendo has… and trust me, it’s the biggest reason Nintendo never goes away.
Essentially, Sony do not develop their own games. They rely heavily on outside contracts with companies. It doesn’t mean they don’t own IP’s – they certainly do which is why they publish the games. However, Sony isn’t very involved in terms of the creation of the games. You know how Sonic is universally considered Sega by mere mention? That’s because Sega built that character themselves. Sony doesn’t do this with a single game they publish.
Don’t believe me? Go ahead and try google search “Sony Developed Game”. You’ll find none, because Sony is simply a hardware manufacturer. They do not, and likely never will, make games. This is the heart of the problem with the entire subject of Sony replacing Nintendo.
This doesn’t mean I do not see the other side of the message. Nintendo has been lacking serious support for creating New IP’s. Even now, they seem to be focused on reviving IP’s they have long left in the dust. However, what company has as many successful IP’s as Nintendo? Not only that, should Nintendo stop making Mario and Zelda for the sake ofa new IP when they still sell so much? New Super Mario Bros. Wii topped 20 million in sales. Mario Galaxy 2 topped 6 million. Twilight Princess topped 7 million. Why in the world would a smart business set aside franchises making them tons of money.
As for the argument that Nintendo is becoming Sega – the only reason this doesn’t seem likely is because Nintendo has never had a loss on any of their major products except for the Virtual Boy. The Wii just became the second best selling console in the history of gaming, and worst case scenario Nintendo will likely always be able to sell at least as many consoles as the GCN did. That’s 21.7 million consoles. Seems like a small number by today’s standards, but remember Nintendo was still churning a hefty profit out of that purple lunch pale.
The Dreamcast was actually a massive success until the Launch of the Playstation 2. For those curious, it was outpacing the N64 during it’s lifespan. However, as soon as the Playstation 2 launched the Dreamcast was all but abandoned. However, it may not have been the Playstation that directly killed it, as Sega hired a new head guy who is the one that made the decision for Sega to be a software only company. Once Sony dropped support, naturally the system was going to die. Just some fun history for you folks, who seem to quickly forget that the Dreamcast really only failed because Sega gave up, not because it lacked support or consumers it’s first couple years.
In essence though, that is why Nintendo wont ever be Sega. Nintendo has never really dropped support for their consoles, and they have too many big selling franchises to ever give up the hardware battle. My issue with anyone becoming Nintendo, or Nintendo becoming anyone else, is that Nintendo is so unique throughout it’s entire existence in gaming that there is just no way you can realistically compare them to what others are doing. Microsoft, Sony – neither of them develop games at Nintendo’s pace (or in Sony’s case, develop any games at all), nor have as many beloved franchises to rely on. Nintendo can afford to take risks like Wii Music, because the next Mario is going to make them several million dollars. If not billions.
It’s also not like the Wii hasn’t had it’s fair share of exclusives either for the core audience, even if they weren’t from Nintendo themselves. In the end, Sony will never be Nintendo, and Nintendo will be any other company than what they are. While it’s true Nintendo doesn’t create as many new franchises as they use to, Nintendo is no longer some company trying to break into the industry. They are there, they are on top, and people love what they make. The issue with the Wii and core gamers has never been “what Nintendo is giving us”, it’s always been what Nintendo wasn’t getting from 3rd Parties.
As fans, I think we all recognize Nintendo can’t keep releasing 3 to 4 blockbuster console titles a year. It’s just not possible given how big these development teams have to be, and the large money invested into making the games. However, Nintendo does make more “core” games at a faster clip than almost every one else out there. All they really need is the 3rd party support to fill in the gaps.
Nintendo is fine folks, and while haters will find any reason to tear Nintendo down, rest assured no one is replacing them. Not even Sony.