Doing a Sega

Infendo

From the weekly GameIndustry.biz editorial email on why Nintendo will never become a third party software vendor, a la Sega:

“Nintendo’s entire philosophy is focused on the platform – not on hardware or software as separate entities or businesses, but as the platform as a whole. [Nintendo] consoles are designed to suit the game concepts which will run on them – a working model which is apparent in the design of both the Nintendo DS and the Wii, and which allows the company to create early first-party titles which really showcase the hardware.

This top-down approach, which creates consoles based on the games which will run on them, is the antithesis of Microsoft and Sony’s approach, which designs from the bottom up – first creating a console and then worrying about what games will run on it. It gives Nintendo an enormous competitive advantage which would not be evident if it were a third-party publisher, and allows its top first-party software to innovate and evolve in ways which would be impossible on another company’s hardware. It’s also the approach which has informed the decision to restrain the specifications of the Wii to a manageable level, which allows development to take place faster and less expensively than on rival consoles.

These factors combine to make Nintendo into the company it is today – a company whose low development costs, tight integration between hardware and software and enormous profit margins allow it to take creative risks, drive forward innovation and promote the growth of the gaming market as a whole. Without Nintendo’s unique business model and first-party status, games like Nintendogs, Brain Age, Animal Crossing and Wario Ware simply could not exist; they either rely heavily on the hardware which supports them, or are so far off the beaten track that creating them on a system with higher development costs and lower profit margins would be commercially untenable.

‘Doing a Sega’ is not on the cards for this firm, and probably never will be – especially not when it’s still in the enviable position of being able to shift the better part of a million units in Europe in a single week.”

People often accuse me of being an unabashed Nintendo drone for no real legitimate reason that I can figure out other than “saying fanboy for fanboy’s sake.” Instead, I’d argue my fanatical support derives from the fact that I’m a progressive who enjoys watching a company buck the norm and overcome laziness. Is that pompous? Perhaps. But I look at Nintendo and know a good time when I see it. I’ll be a fanboy of that any day of the week.

UPDATE: Link to GameIndustry column added.