This article is an opinion piece written by Akia Rahming and does not necessarily reflect the thoughts of the entire Nintendo Enthusiast staff.
If there is one company that has built up an army of legendary IP, it has to be Nintendo. Since they made their introduction into the gaming industry, they’ve been responsible for some of the most known characters and brands in the world. As the years have gone by, the company has continued to build their family with new IPs introduced over the generations. However, even with the strong growth, there has been one general complaint over the years from fans. “When are we going to get a new [insert franchise here] game?”
Indeed, as Nintendo has added to their collection, some of their IPs have gotten a lot more exposure than others. While it’s a guarantee to see a new entry into series like Super Mario, Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda each generation, one can only hope to also spot new games from the numerous other Nintendo franchises. This brings up the question – does the Big N have more IPs than they can manage?
With a number of franchises being neglected over the years, “yes” might be an immediate answer. However, is this really the case? No doubt, it is true that we haven’t seen an F-Zero title in quite a long time, but that doesn’t really mean that Nintendo couldn’t make one. When it comes down to creating games, especially for Nintendo, creativity plays a big factor. In order for a brand new title to be produced, there has to be driving force behind it. With each new entry, there has to be a notable sign of growth and progression, otherwise things will get stale.
While some may be itching to get their hands behind the wheel of a supercharged, futuristic hovercar, the developers may simply want to give the series a break, in order to build up hype for whenever they do decide to bring it around front again. If there’s anything that the 7th-generation has taught us, it should be that too many entries into a single franchise in a short space of time causes nothing but problems – you know what I’m talking about.
While it seems that Nintendo focuses primarily on franchises like Mario and Pokemon, that isn’t completely the case. It is true that the Wii U alone already has 7 Mario titles in its library, almost all of them belong to a mini-series being housed under the Mario name. Not only that, but each of those mini-series are usually once-per-generation. For instance, it’s been about 25 years since the Mario Kart series was introduced, yet there have been only 8 entries.
Numerous Mario titles are released every generation, however, they almost all belong to mini-series which rotate once or twice per generation.
Now this isn’t to say that Nintendo gives equal attention to all of their franchises, but have you ever thought of a reason for that?
We all know Nintendo doesn’t operate like Sony and Microsoft. While the other two often focus on pushing graphical boundaries, Nintendo has been focused on having a very close relationship with their hardware and software. In other words; their games revolve more around the unique features of the hardware, rather than their power-oriented components. Skyward Sword is a good example. It couldn’t be done on the Gamecube; it was tailor-made for the Wii. Even the Wii U has gotten some games that were originally Wii titles, but were delayed and moved over due to the changes made with the hardware features. Pikmin 3 and Star Fox Zero are good examples, as they both started as Wii titles, but were moved over to take advantage of the Wii U’s Gamepad.
Looking at Nintendo’s other franchises; some have made appearances after an eon of being on a hiatus. For instance, Kid Icarus made a resounding resurface for its 3DS launch, after 4 generations of being in the vault. This added to the “Wow” factor, as for some, it was their first time seeing Pit, while for others, it was a blast from the past. This is another good factor of having random rotations from a plethora of IP. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that we haven’t seen new entries in what seems like forever, so much so, that only longtime Nintendo fans may even be able to recognize some of these IPs.
With this situation, it’s true that it’s quite a lot for one entity to handle. Even so, all hope is not lost.
It’s been a while since Nintendo has started out-sourcing some of their games to other developers, but this generation has shown a notable uptick in that activity. For instance, Platinum Games is behind the development of the new Star Fox ZERO, and Namco Bandai have helped lend a hand to both Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. and they’re also developing Pokken Tournament. Nintendo even was in talks with EA-owned studio Criterion Games to develop a new F-Zero for the Wii U, though that didn’t pan out. These are just a few examples of the company’s growing interest in getting closer to third-party developers.
As time continues to go on, we could see returns in other franchises that have been on vacation for quite some time. Even so, one shouldn’t fret about not seeing some characters appear in newer titles. Nintendo has introduced a whole new plethora of new IPs in the last few years, both in-house and through third-party partnerships.. There’s no telling what the future will bring, but one thing is for sure – Nintendo is still by far the king of first-party exclusives. If anything, they’re like Disney.
The Disney company is known by millions around the world, thanks to the legion of timeless movie and cartoon characters that they have created. As the years have gone by, some characters haven’t been fully featured in new movies or shows in quite some time. However, most have gotten a nod every now and again. The company has gone on to grow by introducing completely new franchises, which people continue to love. In a like manner, Nintendo has done the same, and that hasn’t stopped them from raking in the awards, and of course, the cash.
While some old ideas still have potential, new ideas continue to be birthed day by day. It’s just how things work. While having a new entry in an old franchise might please some, that doesn’t speak for everyone. Nintendo knows this, which is why they choose to focus on certain franchises more than others, simply because those are what the majority of their fanbase is interested in. So is it really that they have too much to handle? Not necessarily; they just know how to handle it.