Nintendo should be on every platform - Eidos life president

Ian Livingstone says Mario maker should value its IP above and beyond a stake in the hardware business

Every time Nintendo stumbles, speculation about the company getting out of the hardware game and bringing its properties to other platforms bubbles up. The Wii U's slow start is no different, as Eidos life president Ian Livingstone has advocated for Nintendo to ditch its hardware for the good of its software brands. As reported by Pocket Gamer, Livingstone said Nintendo should go third-party this week during a presentation at the Bristol Games Hub.

"Nintendo should have their IP on every platform," said Livingstone, adding, "Otherwise a whole generation of young people will miss out on their games."

It's a sentiment Livingstone has voiced before. Prior to the launch of the Wii U, he suggested that any platform stumbles the company faced would only be near-term challenges, as it was well situated to reverse course at any time.

"They could easily put Mario on the iPad tomorrow if they so wished," Livingstone said at the time. "They've got lots of options, lots of IP, and a tremendous amount of cash."

Livingstone's not the only venerated industry figure to hold in that opinion. Earlier this year, he floated the idea to Peter Molyneux, who enthusiastically agreed with the notion. Former EA exec Bing Gordon also noted Nintendo's situation last year, saying the company was on track to eventually exit the hardware business.

Despite the abundance of armchair CEOs in the industry, Nintendo has downplayed suggestions of moving development to non-Nintendo platforms. However, its Pokemon Company subsidiary has dabbled in the mobile market, releasing its first paid app last year.

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Latest comments (21)

Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions8 years ago
Pokemon MMO for PC. for the love of god nintendo.. why not!?
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 8 years ago
Seriously, I am sick of this kind of suggestions or report. If people still remember, it took the DS 1 whole year to take off when Nintendo released some revolutionary first party game. Wii U is just in the market for a few months and these so called analysts or industry figures were talking as if they know what is happening. Nintendo is in for the long haul so there are still things to be seen in the next few months. People just keep on saying this hoping to use the press the drag Nintendo down so they don't need to develop for another platform and save some development cost.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
I'd say if anything (and I have ZERO interest in the franchise), Pokemon would be the first to go that route as GameFreak's mobile game seems to be doing well enough that a bigger online spin-off would do even better. However, I'd bet that Nintendo would want to sell more Wii U and 3DS units by making it theirs alone and having some sort of cross platform play as opposed to getting it on every conceivable platform, getting big numbers and watching them drop off as people tend to so when they get tired of certain games...
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Show all comments (21)
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Sony and MS should have their IP on every platform. Otherwise a whole generation of young people that will miss out on their games.
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Stephan Schwabe Multichannelmanagement, Telefonica8 years ago
Oh man, this talking gets on my nervs.. Nintendo sold more consoles/handheld this generation then every one. Why are you not publishing games for them?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stephan Schwabe on 6th June 2013 7:56am

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development8 years ago
I guess we've all worked with them before!

Seriously though, I think this would be a mistake and it's a bit naieve of commentators to keep trotting this out. Nintendo do have some very good IP, though I'm pig sick of hearing about Mario tbh, and these are the only reason to buy Nintendo hardware. And Nintendo are honest enough with themselves to know that.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
There's many IP that aren't Mario that would do well on other platforms - the Metroid and Zelda games would do amazingly well on PC, for instance, and the 1080 Snowboarding and F-Zero IP would work on any console. But obviously Nintendo aren't going to place their IP on other platforms with the 3DS and WiiU out there. Sure, out of those two machines, only the 3DS is doing anything like well, but no company would branch out onto other machines when they still have two consoles in stores and selling.

And to say
"Otherwise a whole generation of young people will miss out on their games."
Is just... Bizarre.
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Expecting the company that came up with the dpad, analog stick and the wiimote to put their core IPs on a buttonless slab of glass is a bit daft.
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University8 years ago
It's an interesting opinion that, once again, is simply poorly put out and used as a hit-baiting headline, and very little real debate about the merits or negatives of such a move takes place.

There's a debate worth having about whether or not Nintendo should use their IP on mobile and tablet to bring their characters to a wider audience, a rapidly expanding audience that may very well play videogames for several years without ever properly encountering Nintendo IP. I'm not saying drop the console business and push everything onto mobile, or Xbox or PlayStation, but utilise their legacy games to broaden their possible audience. Nintendo are facing a huge amount of pressure right now, particularly on the home console front, and they need to do something to remain properly relevant and competitive. I'm not writing them off by any means, but I've yet to see anything that's going to stop Wii U from fading into N64 like obscurity.

Now I know, there's plenty of time for Nintendo to turn around Wii U and the big guns will be on display next week. But exclusive Mario, Metroid, Zelda and Pokemon didn't turn GameCube or the N64 into particularly successful consoles. For all the software support 3DS is getting, and however successful the system currently is, it still won't reach the kind of software and hardware success DS did. For those using the tracking argument, watch what happens to that sales curve when you reach DS mid-2006: sales explode and remain sky high to the end of 2009. 3DS is a great system with great games, and I fully expect Western sales to lift, but I highly doubt it will find the audience DS did.

In the face of such a contraction, why not massively improve and invest in Virtual Console, and make it available across Wii U, 3DS, phones and tablets? That way the latest, greatest Nintendo games are still exclusive to their formats, but their immensely rich back catalogue is available to an even wider audience. Nintendo made it their mission to expand the game playing population, and other formats and business models are doing exactly that. Why not utilise their IP to piggy-back off of some of that success, and compete for customers who, like many who bought a Wii or DS, have never seriously owned or played a gaming focused device, and who have no real attachment to the brands available on Xbox or PlayStation, indeed, no real attachment to those brands? It's worth asking and I hope Nintendo are exploring their options.

I'm never going to advocate they go third party. That route hasn't done Sega any good, and I have to wonder how well Nintendo would compete against publishers that get their biggest titles out on an annual basis like clockwork. Would Nintendo really thrive in that multi-format environment? I doubt it. Far better to ask the question: can Nintendo leverage their IP and the growing mobile/tablet market to boost their console business, even as conventional wisdom either derides that as heresy, or suggests that abandoning consoles is the only way forward?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 6th June 2013 11:37am

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Because they don't have buttons! Have you tried even playing some old SNES games on a phone? It's just no good. There's no way around this issue. Kids with phones would think Nintendo games are crap and no fun to play.
Not to mention that there already are tons of emulators for android phones, so I doubt they can get away with charging 5 for a 25 year old game, like they do on VC.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Nintendo's IP is strong would make more money on other platforms in addition to their own. Pokemon and Mario on mobiles, consoles, PC for example would break all sales records. I think a Pokemon MMO would make others look like a joke in that regard.

That said, I don't think Nintendo should do this just because they're told to or just because they could make more money. Obviously the company direction is to make strong, innovative gaming platforms and strong games to go with them.

Its a different arena to just making software alone. Nintendo are an old, rich toy company, that went on to make amazing gaming systems. I don't see why they should stop, unless the organisation has a collective agreement this is the right direction.

Additionally, for those who feel they should continue but drop exclusivity - the IP does serve as a great attraction to their hardware. Imagine Playstation without Gran Turismo as an exclusive or Xbox without Halo. Nintendo have many of these "Halos", giving the hardware business further value. If the games were not exclusive, DS and Wii just wouldn't sell like they do or could.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Mr. Livingstone, do you know what else is impressive about Nintendo's IP? I bet that Nintendo could make their own console that is mostly just their own IPs and people would still buy them. It would be THE go-to place for Nintendo games. And they could even tailor that hardware to their software.

They should seriously do that.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam8 years ago
Felix - "Because they don't have buttons! Have you tried even playing some old SNES games on a phone? It's just no good. There's no way around this issue."
Many Nintendo games like Pokemon and Advance Wars are already perfectly suited to touch screens, and Mario Kart should work just as well with a phone's gyro as it does with a Wiimote's. I'm sure if Nintendo put their minds to it they could make most of their gaming franchises work perfectly well on a phone or 7" tablet.

I still don't think it's going to happen though, in the near future, at least.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
John, I don't see how Mario Kart would work well without buttons. Yes, the Wii remote allowed for tilt based steering but you still used buttons items, drifting, braking, etc... Also, when titling the Wii remote, the whole screen doesn't title. Imagine trying to play Rainbow Road while titling the screen all over the damn place. No thanks. There is a reason that despite the fact that the 3DS has full gyroscopic and accelerometer control that Mario Kart 7 still uses the analog slider.
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David Serrano Freelancer 8 years ago
If Nintendo believes it must protect the squeaky clean image or integrity of their core brand, they should create a subsidiary so they can develop new IP's for other systems. Nintendo has the right philosophy about play and mainstream accessibility, they just need to apply it to more mature or complex games which don't feature their beloved, but cartoonish and outdated characters. Truth is, they should have done this before they committed to developing the Wii U.
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Charles Herold Wii Games Guide, about.com8 years ago
Nintendo actually makes a profit on its hardware, while Microsoft and Sony, from my understanding, take a loss and then make up the difference with software. So it would make more sense for Microsoft and Sony to go software only. Since the strength of Nintendo's hardware sales lies in their exclusive IPs, this guy is suggesting a situation in which no one is making money on game consoles.

The comment
"Otherwise a whole generation of young people will miss out on their games."
is just obnoxious, as it implies that no one is really playing Nintendo consoles and thus people are missing out more so than with exclusives on other consoles. But obviously a lot of people are playing Nintendo consoles - it's amazing how the game industry refuses to accept that the Wii was incredibly successful - and that argument, as others here have pointed out, can be applied equally well to any exclusive on any console.

No matter how successful or unsuccessful the Wii U is, these comments will keep on coming, through all future Nintendo consoles, forever. I don't know why, I just know it is so.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
I dont know about this, I think one of the advantages Nintendo has is that they keep themselves small and when they do make mistakes, they dont have to deal with a huge fallout like a company like microsoft or SONY needs to do. Nintendo can easily dig there mistakes under a rug. And there games always run smoothly on there consoles, whereas there may be bugs and everything needs to be re-coded, scaled down for other platforms. I dont think this will work in there favor. Right now they may not have the biggest business, but they have a healthy one.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
Or, if Microsoft bought them then they'd be on their consoles and their phones, tablets and PC's. Luckily for Nintendo they aren't exactly hurting for money right now.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Wii U = Dreamcast. Anyone who thinks otherwise is in denial.
DS on the way out. 7 inch tablets are taking over because they are much better at everything.

So where does this leave Nintendo?
They are now in a position where they need to be rescued. Luckily they have piles of cash with which to rescue themselves.
Their share price graph is a ski slope, as you would expect. This makes them very vulnerable.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam8 years ago
Jim - "I don't see how Mario Kart would work well without buttons"
Try Real Racing 3, that has tilt controls and works fine for me. You just touch anywhere on the screen to brake, and it automatically accelerates any time you're not braking. Which is maybe a bit basic for a sports car game like RR3, but would be ideally suited for Mario Kart because, let's face it, you spend 95% of every race with your finger glued to the accelerator anyway. And you could just swipe up or down to launch weapons forwards or backwards. If tilt controls don't work for you, I think RR3 has an alternate control scheme of touching the edge of the screen to steer in that direction, which should work just as well as old school d-pad steering.

If you were trying to put Gran Turismo on a phone I agree you might run into problems, but Mario Kart is a very simple arcade game, and it's already been made (over and over again) for devices with gyro controls and devices with no analogue sticks or triggers, so its controls and gameplay should adapt easily to a smartphone.

Bruce - "DS on the way out. 7 inch tablets are taking over because they are much better at everything."
I think Nintendo might disagree with you there. Despite the poor launch, the 3DS has recovered to sell faster than the original DS did at the same point in its life cycle, with about 30 million sold worldwide to date, software sales up sharply, and over 10% of sales now coming through the eShop. A lot of people wrote off the 3DS at launch, but I think it's fair to say its problems were mostly of Nintendo's own making rather than a sign that tablets and smartphones have completely killed the market for dedicated handheld gaming devices.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Bruce, difference between WiiU and Dreamcast is that Nintendo wont pull the plug on their device. It also has plenty of chance to sell well as a low cost console with great Nintendo games. Many want to play games like Mario, Metroid and Zelda with advanced HD graphics. Oh and there wasn't a black Dreamcast at launch :0 ;)

I feel like a broken record as others most do, because there still isn't enough at his point to declare WiiU dead. You also contradicted yourself by saying Nintendo needs rescuing, then going on to say they have piles of cash to rescue themselves. Suggests they don't need rescuing at all, just to release some damn games and continue to work on good 3rd party relations - big and small indies.

DS comments are premature too. As the post above suggests, the 3DS is performing better than its predecessor. A little odd for a supposedly dying platform in 2013.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 7th June 2013 12:57pm

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