Sunday, September 6, 2015

What if Apple owned Nintendo?

Wired recently did an interesting podcast about Apple and hardcore gamers. If you haven't already, I suggest you give it a listen Here.

This podcast got me thinking a little bit. Apple being the one to put the likes of Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo out of business is a scary proposition. Partially because it seems so incredibly possible! They talk all about it on the podcast. But one thing they only touched on briefly is probably the most powerful weapon in the Apple versus modern gaming battle.

Intellectual properties.

Apple could announce an Apple TX more powerful than the PS4, but without much software to cater to the hard core crowed, they're going to be left in the dust. Apple is smarter than that, which is probably why that hasn't happened yet. But IPs is what keeps bringing in the cash during Nintendo's recent hard times. Amiibo is such a success because we love these characters! And if fan reaction to Metroid Federation Force (warning, lots of cussing in the comment section) is anything to go by, fans get quite irate when you mess with their beloved franchises.

Halo, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, the list goes on and on of million seller hardcore games which little if any mobile equivalent. Hardcore gamers want what we want. And we'll pay big bucks to get it.

Then there's Apple. who makes hardware and solely relies on 3rd party support for it's gaming. It appears to be working out, but the casual market (as they said in the podcast) is not loyal. As soon as something other cool and cheap thing comes out, they're gone. Just like what happened to the Wii. In order for Apple to have a shot at the over $46 Billion that was spent last year on gaming, they need software that appeals to the hardcore, but still plays to their casual audience... sound like anyone you know?

Why it would work.

Nintendo developing exclusively on Apple built hardware probably wouldn't look too dissimilar to what we've gotten from Nintendo since 2006. A lot of Nintendo's software aesthetics are build to be clean, simple, easy to understand, yet powerful. Just like Apple. Also, of the big 3, Nintendo tends to be the innovator, with the other 2 playing catch-up with "me too" strategies that rarely pan out (even the Wii U inspired things like cross-play between the Vita and the PS4).

There Nintendo and Apple tend to differ is in their core strategies. Apple being an American company is much more in tune with what the western world will buy. But Nintendo's stubbornness over the years (which I believe is derived from its very old-school Japanese roots) is part of the reason it's so ingrained into Japanese culture. At it's peak, the DS was in almost every pocket in Japan, and I believe that shows just how much more willing the Japanese audience is to adapt a strange new idea.

Personally, I would follow Nintendo wherever I could play the next Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Donkey Kong. Imagine Street-passing with your iPhone! You'd never hit a dry spell!

Why it would't work.

I'm pretty sure that buying one of the most popular game developers in the world would be a great way to make your loyal 3rd party developers very angry. The App store is already bloated to the point where you'd be lucky to see the top 1%. Adding more cream to the top (1st party cream, mind you) would perpetuate that problem.

There are also many things wrong with iPhone gaming. Controls being #1. Apple allows you to connect your own bluetooth gamepad, which is nice, but that brings up another problem. Nintendo is a company who likes to control it's hardware and software. Lose one, and I'm afraid the other will suffer. Not that Nintendo couldn't overcome this obstacle, but it wouldn't be the Nintendo we grew up with.

Which brings me to my 3rd problem. Nintendo no longer making hardware just feels wrong. I don't know if I want to live in a world where Nintendo fans get lumped in with the same iPhone crazed lunatics who stand in line for 20 hours for a bigger screen. I want to be with other Nintendo crazed lunatics who stand in line for 20 hours for Amiibo. Those are my people.

Also, Nintendo selling itself to an American company? pshhh.

Gaming is going through changes. Some are good, and some are Angry Birds. But whatever the future holds, I hope it includes a Nintendo console... And a proper sequel to the GCN Chibi Robo FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

what do you think? Is this a good fit? Let mw know your thoughts in the comment section! I'd love to chat about it with you.


  1. Well I would love to be able to play some Nintendo games on my iPhone, but that would make any of the portable Nintendo systems obsolete. Why would you want to carry something extra when it would already be on your phone?

    1. In the scenario I bring up, Nintendo would no longer be making it's own hardware. They would exclusively be making games/apps for iOS (either for the iPhone, iPad or Apple TV).
      This is however a sad future for most Nintendo fans, because their hardware is unique and awesome.