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Nintendo: First Party Comes Before Third Party

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After all, you can’t have a third party without having a first party to start with. Well, you need to host a second party after that. Only then can you put together a third party.

Ignoring some terrible puns, Nintendo has spoken out on their chicken-and-egg situation concerning the Wii U. Software sells hardware, which sells software. The Wii U is lacking in console sales, which means publishers don’t want to put games on the system. In turn, this means that people see less value in buying a Wii U. Third parties have been jumping ship left and right from the S. S. Wii U for months now, and Nintendo needs to solve that problem.

Satoru Iwata has spoken on that subject, stating that third parties are a second priority for Wii U. Don’t take that the wrong way. He means that the first party push needs to help the console before third parties can jump back on board.

Here’s what Iwata-san said:

“What we need to do is regain the momentum of the Wii U in the marketplace and establish successful examples of third-party Wii U software. Our focus is, first of all, to regain the momentum of the Wii U towards the end of this year, and then we’ll try to establish successful third-party Wii U software titles. I believe in the importance of third-party support for Nintendo platforms. I’m very willing to change the current situation.”

Reggie Fils-Aime voices similar reasoning as Iwata, saying third parties are attracted to a large install base:

“I’ve had conversations with a number of the publishers. As they see what we’re doing and the commitment we have with Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda… As we have behind-the-scenes conversations about what’s further in development and what’s coming down, the decisions around the next lineup of development and where they’re going to put their development dollars are starting to shift.

“Looking at this through the prism of a business decision, if I’m a third-party publisher, what I want is that I want a large, diverse installed base to invest in my development and be able to monetize against that large installed base. That’s why, from a Nintendo first-party perspective, we have to drive the installed base. We need a diverse group of consumers. Not just core, not just casual, but a broad, diverse group of consumers within that installed base, so that whether you’re Ubi with Assassin’s Creed or with Just Dance, you’re feeling confident that your game is going to find a home. You’ll be able to monetize your development.”

It’d be nice to see Nintendo pull something out of their sleeves right now, making the Wii U launch seem like one big magic trick, but I’m afraid it isn’t so. Nintendo simply doesn’t have enough resources to fulfill third-party trust at a moment’s notice:

“If we had an infinite amount of resources, development resources, we might be able to satisfy any and all needs of game players and non-game players all over the world. But our resources are always limited. The fact of the matter is that there are some areas of game creation that Nintendo is very good at, but there are other things that Nintendo is not very good at. There are huge numbers of fans of Nintendo software, but at the same time, those types of players still sometimes want to play something else on our platform. Because of that, we always need third parties to support us, in order to make our platform complete.” –Satoru Iwata

Games from the Big N typically take a longer time in the oven than most other titles on the market. I do hope that Nintendo can focus the resources they have to give the Wii U a good holiday season to gain momentum on sales. The console is in free fall right now, and Nintendo needs to get it on its feet as soon as possible. If third parties aren’t going to help out, it’s up to Nintendo, and Nintendo alone.

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