In the gaming world created and crafted by Nintendo, games make or break the company. When solid titles like Super Mario or the Legend of Zelda make their way to the market, consumers care. And in the process, they buy an awful lot of consoles.
When the Wii U launches later this year, Nintendo will need to rely on games in order to sell more consoles. However, in the past, the company has relied nearly entirely on first-party titles. In fact, the Wii’s third-party lineup was so sub-par that many folks (including myself) made it a last-resort gaming opportunity in the living room. Soon after the allure of motion gaming wore off and the first-party titles dried up, there was little else to enjoy.
For that reason, Nintendo must rely heavily on third-party publishers with its Wii U. The days of simply carrying a console over the finish line on the back of first-party games are over. Nowadays, in order for console makers to be successful, they’re going to have to deliver not only solid first-party games, but allow other companies to offer up outstanding titles themselves.
For Nintendo, playing nicely with third-parties has always seemed difficult. For years, third-party developers have criticized the company on everything from its hardware design to its seeming unwillingness to allow other games to shine. In Nintendo land, first-party titles still reign supreme.
But with the Wii U likely launching this year, to be followed by the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 either next year or in 2014, longevity will be the name of the game. And in order to stick it out until the bitter end, Nintendo must be able to foster strong relationships with third-party developers and urge them to bring their best and brightest games to the console.
At E3, Nintendo seemed willing to do so. Rather than spend too much time on hardware, the company focused on games and brought up several third-party developers to show off their latest and greatest titles for its new console. It was a good start. But let’s not forget that Nintendo had some backing at the Wii’s start, as well. And now, Wii owners are left wishing more solid titles would have been launched.
Of course, Nintendo fans would disagree with that argument. They would say that Nintendo’s first-party titles are really all customers need, but even in those cases where third-party games are on the ready, they hold up quite well. In fact, some Nintendo fans might go as far as saying that the Wii’s game library is just as deep (if not more so) than the Xbox 360’s or PlayStation 3’s.
But are we really supposed to believe that? If that was the case, the Wii wouldn’t see its sales slumping and Nintendo wouldn’t be having so much trouble keeping pace with its past successes. If the Wii had a deeper library, trust me: the gaming space would look much different.
Remember third-party developers, Nintendo. Believe it or not, you’re going to need them with the Wii U.
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear