Will Nintendo Become The Next SEGA?

Will Nintendo Become The Next SEGA?

Could Nintendo, one of gaming’s most powerful companies, suffer the same terrible fate as the once-great Sega?

Recently, it has come to light that Microsoft has some pretty strict rules about games they allow to be on their console; namely they must have the same release date and content as other versions of the game. If these conditions aren’t met, Microsoft can deny that title’s release on the Xbox 360. This applies to both retail games and Xbox Live Arcade games. Sony has responded claiming that Microsoft “is protecting an inferior technology”.  All of this made me realize that I had heard of a company doing something similar before.

 

Will Nintendo Become The Next SEGA - Mario

 

 

Back when they were truly the dominant company in video games, Nintendo had a similar policy. In the late 80’s, the NES had a near monopoly on the video game market and Nintendo had strict rules for third party developers. They had to sign a contract saying they would develop only for the NES, and would only make five games a year. Also, Nintendo had a authentication chip installed into every console and game cartridge it licensed. If the two didn’t match, the game wouldn’t play. Nintendo also fought against companies who would change the code of the games released for the NES with third party accessories, such as the Game Genie and Pro Action Replay.

 

Zelda Hyrule Warriors Wii U Screen 1 Link Master Sword

 

Because Nintendo had such power over the industry as a whole, many developers agreed to the conditions. Competitors in the market such as the Atari 7800 and the Sega Master System were left to rely on their own first party titles to drive their systems as well as the few third party developers who didn’t agree to Nintendo’s policy. Today, although they don’t have as much power as Nintendo did, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is the console for hardcore gamers this generation. The Wii doesn’t have that install base and the PlayStation 3 is only now gaining momentum. Part of the reason for this (maybe the main reason) is because Microsoft appeared to have a strong relationship with third party developers.

 

Nintendo Wii Zelda Link Super Smash Bros Brawl HD

 

As they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Going back to the NES, some publishers (including Atari under the name Tengen) started releasing games for the NES without Nintendo’s permission by finding ways to trick the authentication chip. One way was by connecting a licensed game onto their game by means of a dongle like connection on the game cartridge itself. Another way was by simply disabling the chip by means of a voltage spike. Eventually, publishers started to defect to other consoles and when the Sega Genesis was released, it proved to be a worthy opponent to the NES, and later to the SNES. Another one of their policies was their position on violence in video games. The release of Mortal Kombat to both the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo showed that gamers wanted the game unfiltered, and the bloodless SNES version was outsold four-to-one by the ultra-violent Genesis version. Nintendo had to stop their strict policy and be more catering to third parties. Unfortunately, Nintendo has become less inviting to third party developers since the Nintendo 64. As such the N64 suffered from a lack of quality games from third parties and although relations have improved slightly, Nintendo still suffers from third party support in all of its platforms. All of the best games from the Nintendo 64, GameCube, and Wii are either first party or second party games.

 

Top Ten SNES Games Part 1 - Super Mario Kart Mario Yoshi

 

It appears that history is trying to repeat itself. By no means am I a fanboy of Microsoft, but the Xbox 360 is my favorite console this generation and I think it’s one of the best consoles ever. If these policies are the way they are getting these games onto the platform, then Microsoft is going to be in trouble come next generation. Developers don’t want to be stymied by rules and will eventually move onto another platform. Nintendo learned this the hard way and appear to still be trying to figure this out. Even Sega failed to learn this lesson, albeit in a different way, due to the failure of the Sega Saturn, and now they are no longer in the hardware market. This is not to say these policies altogether are unnecessary.

 

Will Nintendo Become The Next SEGA - Sega Genesis Wallpaper

 

 

Standards are essential in video games. Allowing a mountain of crap to befall your console will damage the integrity of it and will do more damage than the good titles can repair. It happened to the Atari 2600 and that’s why these policies are in place. However, when you have too tight a grip on your own platform, you lose out on good titles. There are other factors, sure, like the architecture of the console itself and whether it’s easy to develop for or not. Good business relationships are the backbone of any arrangement in video games. As such, this is why the PS3 has great games for its challenging platform. I just hope Microsoft finds a way to loosen its grasp on developers so they can make great games for everyone. We don’t need two Nintendos in this industry.

10 thoughts on “Will Nintendo Become The Next SEGA?

  1. Nintendo has always had super strict policies with third parties, and it has become more and more of a liability as the years have gone by. How many hardcore gamers even buy Nintendo systems for games made by anyone besides the Big N?

    It’s sad to hear Microsoft having similarly stringent rules. There’s also the issue with the way Live works with some games. Not that anyone is missing it, but MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV pretty much have no chance at all of coming out on the 360 due to the closed-off nature of the Live platform. Excellent article!

  2. The 360 wasn’t ‘the’ console for hardcore gamers this generation – the only reason it’s still got a tiny lead in overall sales over the PS3 is due to people buying it for Kinect and Dance Central – hardly hardcore ;). The 360 _was_ the go-to console for US teenagers, but playing CoD and Halo all day doesn’t make someone hardcore ;). From the perspective of someone who was gaming before the NES was released, the best console for hardcore gaming was the PS3 by a slight margin (better range of games, and even a better range of shooters, plus more dedicated-server online games), but any hardcore gamer worth their salt would have made an effort to play at least some of the quality exclusives on _both_ consoles.

    Skewed, US-centric perspective aside, there are some good points in this article, although Sega’s failure in the hardware business wasn’t due to overly restrictive publishing rules, but rather due to two consecutive weak hardware launches (Saturn then Dreamcast – both great kit, but for a range of reasons didn’t take off in the market). Particularly the point about MS and publishers – Sony had a pretty big choke when they launched the PS3, and even then they’ve outsold the 360 since the PS3’s launch but multiple millions worldwide. MS needs to step up to the party and start providing real value to gamers, rather than milking them for peer-to-peer online play (which I get free on my PC, my PS3, my Vita, my mobile phone, my tablet, the Wii, the PS2…… there’s _no_ excuse for this, it’s just MS applying their OS and office software model to their gaming customers – ie, milking ’em for all their worth) and being less restrictive to publishers. Spending their money on new content, rather than timed exclusives, would actually result in more games for their customers, rather than to throw money at shareholders. Hardcore gamers with multiple consoles got _nothing_ from the $50 million MS spent on GTA IV DLC, whereas Ninty and Sony focus their spending on producing more games for people, rather than on stopping people playing what’s already available.

    • This gen they got lucky with the Wii, yes, but they’ve reported a huge loss this year as people are tired of the Wii now. Hopefully they can regain some steam with the Wii U, but we’ll see.

      • HAHAHAHAH 1 loss in there entire history dude

        they sold over 1 billion units of software

        and they got lucky with wii?

        nothing lucky about it

        you put out the weakest system, you sell the most

  3. Will Nintendo be the next Sega?
    How? Why? When?

    You did not even give us comparative reasons?

    Or are you just saying they will quit the hardware race? yet you did not explain or elaborate to us the similarities with Sega’s demise. No comparison past, present & future.
    Very confusing article.

    Not being biased, but never ever under estimate Nintendo. Especially Yamauchi. He is powerful & filthy rich emperor.They are every bit the opposite of Sega when it comes to business.

    Nice spot on stab at Nintendo’s history it pretty much summarizing this video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwd56K7rp7A but this article doesn’t tell the “how” Nintendo is going the way of Sega.
    And what is Microsoft doing here in this article? They are so different.

    I don’t see Nintendo having any grip or bad rep 3rd party developers any more either.

    Nintendo is a very strong solid company. Doom sayers need to know more about Nintendo before spew nonsense like these.

  4. I kinda hope that Nintendo justs gives up on consoles and makes games for other platforms instead because i no longer think its worth it for me to buy the nintendo consoles just to play the exclusives.


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