Does Nintendo NEED 3rd party support?

Today a close friend and I were discussing the situation regarding the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio and what they mean for gaming.  We talked about the higher specs, 4K gaming, and how will developers take advantage of the more powerful consoles.  He brought up the fact on how even though developers will have more capable hardware to work with, developers are not even taken advantage of the hardware they already have. The PS4 Pro in reality is like hitting the reset button. 

Developers can’t even get games to run at 1080p/60fps consistently on the available hardware.  We get frame-rates dropping well below the advertised mark, we get games that are very unstable and sometimes even unplayable until a massive patch or patches are implemented, and even if developers do get the games running right, they spend so much time making the game “look good” they forget that the game is supposed to be fun.  So in a sense you just paid $59.99 for a movie that does not even look as good as a CGI motion picture.  Then the topic of Nintendo came up. 

Say what you will about Nintendo’s console not being up to par in terms of hardware specs.  Fair point.  However, it is also fair to remind people that when it comes to game stability, NO ONE is better than Nintendo.  Very rarely is there is situation where there is a error big enough that needs to be patched.  Very rarely do you see Nintendo games that have unsteady frame rates and long load times.  Heck, even a few N64 games ran at 60fps.

I’m going to make sure that I preface this in the right way because I don’t want to be misquoted.  It IS important to have a console that has capable hardware.  It IS important to have hardware features that make the overall game-play experience as intuitive, seamless, and comfortable as possible.  My question is this.  Would you rather have games that push the absolute limits of graphical fidelity and sacrifice game-play in the process, or would you rather sacrifice bleeding-edge graphical fidelity for rock-solid game-play content?

That is a question that is going to have to be answered and the answer may very well determine the future of gaming or if gaming even has a future. 

Someone may bring up the point, “Why can’t we have both?”  Fair enough, that is a valid question.  Indeed, why can’t we have both?  However, ask yourself this question.  We all have complained or do complain about the recurring issues in gaming content from 3rd party distributors and even from some 1st party studios from Microsoft and Sony.  Do we really trust them with such a monumental task?  Do we…….?  That brings me back to Nintendo.

If I had to place my bet on a company that could successfully makes games consistently with bleeding-edge graphics and the highest quality of actual game-play content, I would choose Nintendo.  Why?  It’s because they’ve already done it before with the NES, SNES, N64, and GameCube

The N64 was a perfect example.  It was the biggest gap in power-level of any console to date to it’s runner-up (the PS1.)  The N64 was overpowered rather than underpowered.  Yet, we got some of the best-selling, most influential, and most memorable games of ALL TIME from 1st and 2nd party studios on the N64.  Games that people still play today on the Virtual Console, on units that they still own or bought from a surplus gaming store somewhere, or by emulators.  Replay value has become antiquated unfortunately in today’s society.  Companies don’t care about creating pieces of art that can be enjoyed or generations to come.  They are just looking to make a fast buck.  I don’t trust 3rd parties to give me the best experiences anymore.  While I have my reservations on a lot of the things Nintendo does and some of their anti-consumer practices, I can never complain about the quality of their products.  When it comes to 3rd parties we get a lot of empty promises.

That bring me to the title of this blog.   Does Nintendo NEED 3rd party support?  More directly, does the NX need 3rd party support to be successful?  I cannot answer that question with a yes or a no.  Here is why.

It is clear that Nintendo artistically sees gaming in a particular light.  They are comfortable making games in that light, and do not see a reason to change.  In that frame of mind, I would say yes.  Nintendo does need 3rd party support.  As fantastic as the quality is in Nintendo’s games and as fun as they are to play, the lack of diversity in the genres are paramount.   

Shooters, Western RPGs, RTS, Survival-Horror, Racing Sims, Sports, Fighters, Action-Adventure, etc are either few and far between or missing altogether on the Wii U and 3DS.  These genres are just as important as the platformers, party games, puzzlers, and Japanese RPGs that are heavy on the Wii U and 3DS.  This is where having 3rd party support is a good thing.  Instead of alienating people who frequent those genres, you allow studios that specialize in those genres to bring that content to the NX so that you don’t have to divert attention away from what you do best, or just leave that area blank again. 

Now, if Nintendo does understand that those genres are important and they want to go back to the style they had with the NES, SNES, N64, and GameCube where Nintendo hit all those areas and excelled in each of them, then the answer is no.  They do not need 3rd party support. 

Think about the quality of a game like Wave Race.  This game is 20 years old, and yet I am still mesmerized by the water physics.  This game did not have a rumble feature, but the physics and impact made it feel like the game had a rumble feature.  There were other jet-ski games before and after Wave Race.  Nothing comes close. 

When Nintendo makes up their mind to put all their chips into something they rarely disappoint.  Whether it was a fighter like Killer Instinct, racers like F-Zero and Cruis’n USA, and shooters like GoldenEye007 and Perfect Dark.  Nintendo showed us that they can hang in any genre they choose to. 

So I guess the answer to this question is relative to what Nintendo’s strategy is regarding the NX.  I guess we won’t have a definitive answer until we see the NX and the games that launch with the console.  I think a reasonable answer could be given at that point on whether or not Nintendo needs 3rd party support. 

Thank you for your time.

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