“Nintendo has undergone continuous changes over years, moving from Hanafuda playing cards to video games, and offering newer systems like the Wii. But we’ve been preoccupied with a fixed idea of what a game should be like. The game industry is at a turning point amid new developments like the rise of smartphones.”
Even if it's within the confines of an investors meeting it's refreshing to hear Nintendo president Satoru Iwata acknowledge one of the major grievances leveled at his company and its products. Things have definitely been better for the house that Mario built: with recently posted quarterly losses in the multi-millions and executives all the way up to Iwata himself taking massive pay cuts to keep things afloat, right now Nintendo looks to be grasping at straws to recover from the massive differential in expected demand for the Wii U. However, yesterday's investors meeting suggests that future measures might not deal with trimming down or cutting corners so much as expanding in new directions.
Expanding character licensing was the strongest prospect Iwata put on the table, utilizing Nintendo's instantly recognizable stable of original characters to spread into a wider variety of games. We've already seen forays into cross-licensing with the Mario & Sonic sports series and the Nintendo Direct previews for upcoming games like Hyrule Warriors and Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, so shifting more focus into these sorts of projects seems only natural.
"We will actively expand our character licensing business, including proactively finding appropriate partners," Iwata said. "Also, we will be flexible about forming licensing relationships in areas we did not license in the past, such as digital fields, provided we are not in direct competition and we can form win-win relationships."
Another option presented was to seek out more studio mergers and acquisitions, bringing more outside talent under the N-brella to offer fresh takes on the roster of existing IPs as well as contributing new ones. The success of close partnerships with the likes of Platinum Games (The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2), Retro Studios (the Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country Returns series, Mario Kart 7), and Namco Bandai (Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS) prove that this is a concept that can work to everyone's benefit.
Whatever the outcome, Nintendo's attempts to dig itself out of its current financial hole should definitely hold repercussions for all the major players in the still-new current generation. The real question is, just what will those effects be?