Double Take is a series where we take recent announcements and occurrences in the gaming industry and offer our immediate thoughts on them.
Nintendo hasn’t had a very good relationship with most third-party developers since the days of the SNES. In that time, they’ve mostly kept to themselves and supported their consoles with their own a IP, with an occasional third-party exclusive thrown in here-and-there. But during E3 2011, it really looked like that was all going to change.
Nintendo and EA shocked a good chunk of the gaming world when they first announced their “unprecedented partnership”. EA insisted that the then-new Wii U would be the ‘ideal place’ to play all of their latest-and-greatest titles. Of course, we all know how this story ends. With every one of those promises broken, these two companies haven’t really been on speaking terms for quite some time now, but according to a new rumor, it looks like that may very well be changing. If this is to be believed, exactly how big of a deal will this all be?
Whether you like them or not, it would be foolish to deny that EA is a top dog in the industry—actually no—they’re the top dog. In terms of their overall size when it comes to the amount of studios and IPs they own, you can practically call them the Disney of gaming (albeit not in the same way Nintendo is). Frankly, if things actually did end up going well the first time around, then the Wii U’s situation would probably be a whole lot different right now. But that’s all in the past, now, we look to the future.
According to the rumor, these two companies are set to meet in a matter of weeks and lay everything on the table; Nintendo wants EA to be on board with NX support. Apparently, in order for EA to back the NX, then Nintendo has to work to build a solid crowd of sports fans by means of advertising on popular networks during peak seasons and supporting sports-oriented apps; something that both the PS4 and XBOX One already have. In addition to this, EA would also like to have Nintendo bundle the console with titles like FIFA and Madden—something that the Big N hasn’t done before.
Now it is true that this may come off as being quite arrogant on EA’s part, but as already stated, with the size that they have, it’s to be expected of them to make such demands. While EA owns boat-loads of IPs, taking a look at any of their financial reports will reveal that their sports titles account for quite a bit of their overall profit, so if they really are making these demands, then it should come as no surprise as to why this is the case.
With all that having been said, let’s just go ahead and pretend for a second that this is all confirmed information and let’s also take it a step further and pretend that the meeting has already happened and the deal is inked.
Peanut butter is great, right? Sure. What about jam? That’s nice too. Combine them together and you have something even more amazing. In other words, having Nintendo and EA on the same team is a very good thing. Imagine the NX releasing with a new Mario, Metroid, F-Zero and Donkey Kong title—and—Mass Effect, Need for Speed, and Battlefield in addition to Madden and FIFA? That’s one hell of a deal.
Now putting that little fantasy aside, I’m not entirely sure how this is all going to work out considering the fact that both PlayStation and XBOX are already sports hubs. The NX would have to have some killer feature completely opposite of the others in order to stand out, otherwise a solid fanbase could never be established. In addition to this, even if they can build a decent fanbase, then how is Nintendo going to balance out releasing their own games without interfering with EA’s? That’s a topic that’s best left for another time, but it’s definitely something to think about.
In the end, these are two superpowers with a great set of strengths. While Nintendo can practically guarantee that their fans will run out and by the NX, if they intend to make the system a monumental success, then they’re going to have to break down the walls and start building bridges back to these third-party companies—and EA is the biggest opportunity. While this is arguably making a deal with devil, it’s all but necessary if the NX is going to have a real chance against the likes of its competitors.