Electronics Manufacturing – M528


The Relationships that Build It

Ata-Ur-Razeque Talukdar

Nintendo has been in the games industry for over two decades now and in that time, relationships have been formed with partners to help it achieve the ultimate goal of each generation, to win the console war. These relationships are important in any industry, but in the games industry, without partnerships with software developers and publishers in particular, a console manufacturer like Nintendo cannot achieve the broad library of games they need to sell their consoles.

Retro Studios

Partner to Family

Retro Studios was founded in 1998 as a second-party game developer to Nintendo by Jeff Spangenberg. However, Nintendo took a special interest in the company, offering it the license to the Metroid franchise and buying the remaining shares from Jeff Spangenberg to assume full ownership of the studio, making it a first-party developer. Since then, Retro Studios has become a major part of Nintendo’s strategy, with Metroid Prime 3 widely expected to set the standard for the FPS (First-Person Shooter) genre on the Nintendo Wii.

Dependent and Trusting

The Metroid franchise is one of Nintendo’s biggest and one bad game can damage that franchise badly. This means that Nintendo have put a lot of trust in Retro to deliver high quality games. Metroid Prime 3 will have a huge impact on not only the Metroid franchise, but also the credibility of the Wii as a “hardcore” games console. In this respect, although they are keeping an extremely close eye on the project, Nintendo is almost completely dependent on Retro Studios for the reputation of the Nintendo Wii, at least in the short-term.

Retro Studios

In Touch With Western Society

Aside from the skills and franchise development Retro have achieved, there one other thing they bring to Nintendo; being American. Although this may not sound like much, being based in the US affords Retro a mind-set that is more in-tune with western audiences. Many Japanese companies fail outside of Japan because they only cater to the Japanese market. Nintendo has always had major western developer under its wing to provide the ‘killer app’ for western audiences. Rare did it with Goldeneye and Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64 getting ratings of 9.7/10 (Perry, 1997) and 9.8/10 (Casamassina, 2000) respectively, as well as titles like Banjo-Kazooie. Retro Studios took the reins for the Gamecube with Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2, both of which were a huge success, as recognised in a recent IGN Weekly by the editors of IGN (Chobot, 2007). But a good review does not make a game great on its own, sales are the ultimate goal of any game and determine how successful a game really is. Goldeneye sold over 7.6 million within the N64’s life span (Polsson, 2007) and Metroid Prime managed sell through a quarter of a million copies in just one week after its launch (Majaski, 2002) and stands as the third greatest game of all time, with an average rating of 96.3% (Game Rankings, 2007).

All of these factors are very important to Nintendo in their overall strategy for the Nintendo Wii. Without Retro Studios, Nintendo would lose a major market segment and perhaps the console war in the process.

Electronic Arts

Giant Of The Games Industry

Electronic Arts, or EA as it’s known, is the largest games publisher in the industry and played a huge role in the previous generation of consoles, with xx games on the Playstation 2 alone. This being true, EA has good relationships with all three major console manufacturers, including Nintendo. EA delivered many titles from its coveted EA Sports range to the Gamecube, as well as other titles like Goldeneye: Rogue Agent.

Wii Success = More Games

After the relative failure of the Gamecube, EA decided to support the Playstation 3 much more than the Wii. However, upon seeing the huge and instant success of the Nintendo Wii, EA is now rethinking its strategy and shifting projects over to the Wii (Jenson, 2007). Nintendo’s relationship with EA is not as close as the one with Retro Studios, but now EA has seen that the Wii is the future, it has become much closer. Just this week EA announced that the first of three titles produced with Steven Spielberg will be a Wii title for this year (Seff, 2007), to add to the growing list of Wii-exclusive titles. Although EA is not going to make the Wii a success on its own for Nintendo, a lack of support from EA could easily damage Wii’s chances of success. An important fact to consider in this relationship is that EA’s added support for the Wii is also support lost for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. This is one relationship all the console manufacturers need to keep.



Arch Nemesis To Close Ally

Two decades ago, it would have unthinkable for Sega to even talk to Nintendo, but with Sega now out of the console manufacturing business, things have changed a lot since then. Sega is now a software only company, making games for all three major consoles. However, Nintendo has been the most supported, with titles like Super Monkey Ball and Sonic Heroes. Sega is now a close partner of Nintendo and both companies befit from this arrangement.

In a recent announcement, the two companies revealed that their relationship was being taken to a whole new level, as Sonic the Hedgehog Sega’s mascot and Mario, Nintendo’s coveted character will be in the same game by the end of the year (Burman & Casamassina, 2007). The game titled Mario and Sonic at the Olympics marks a new peak in the relationship between Nintendo and Sega, with Nintendo in particular trusting Sega with the development of the game, whilst keeping a close eye on them throughout development. Although this title poses some risk to the Mario franchise if the game doesn’t come out well, the partnership with Sega can only be a good thing, as Nintendo has nothing to lose, but a lot to gain. For example, Sega has a large following for Sonic and other franchises and the presence of these on Nintendo’s consoles (the Wii and DS) only boosts the number of gamers that buy them.


Without One, The Other Cannot Exist

None of the relationships described above are the most important, as they are all necessary to achieve different objectives. Retro Studios will help Nintendo earn a reputation in the FPS genre, a genre that has been outside of Nintendo since the days of Goldeneye, helping Nintendo to shed the ‘kiddie’ image it earned in the last generation. EA is one of the most influential companies in gaming today and its support for Nintendo’s consoles is vital in the quest for the victory in the console war, through broadening and expanding its library. Sega brings its fans to the table, as well as providing new franchises to add to Nintendo’s consoles. Just one of these relationships is no good on its own, but together they are the skyscraper on the foundation that is Nintendo. Without one, the other cannot exist.


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