Nintendo has built a reputation in recent years of being rather focused on themselves, at least where game development is concerned. They’ve stuck with first-party exclusive titles, and if a third-party game does appear on one of their systems, it typically doesn’t do very well. There are exceptions, obviously, but for the most part, this is the case. According to Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, that will be different this time around, as he has promised that the upcoming Wii 2 codenamed ‘Project Cafe‘ will be bringing in software from more popular Western development houses, with some hopefully able to be shown at E3.
Third-party developers have had a hand in bringing back some of Nintendo’s big name franchises. The best example of this would be Retro Studios, who were the key developers behind the Metroid Prime series and most recently Donkey Kong Country Returns. Beyond that, however, Nintendo’s in-house productions have always taken a front seat to Western developers. Iwata spoke on the subject of third-party development coming overseas in a recent interview, mentioning the change in gamers’ tastes and how they need to adapt with them.
The recent rise of Western developed games in terms of sales and publicity has changed the classic landscape of console gaming. Japanese games – at one time hailed as the cream of the crop – and Western games just don’t share many similarities anymore, which Iwata considers a difference between two cultures more than anything else.
But for Nintendo fans who worry that the company has grown out of touch with the ‘hardcore’ gaming audience in favor of casual gaming like the Wii, it should come as a relief to hear that Iwata wants all that to change with Project Cafe:
“I think that, over the past three or four years, the presence of Japanese software developers has become relatively small. Nintendo is doing what overseas software developers do not do, so Nintendo’s software is selling relatively well also in foreign countries, but for the software oriented to enthusiastic game players, such as “Call of Duty,” the ones created by overseas developers are more mainstream in the overseas markets. In addition, because the expressions in games are becoming more and more photo-realistic, I imagine that the cultural differences in acceptance have started to be reflected more clearly. I think this is the reason why western users tend to prefer software created overseas than software from Japanese software developers.
“Of course, Nintendo will continue to run a business by creating Nintendo-like games, but we will not be able to meet the various tastes of consumers by only doing this, so I feel that it will become necessary to reinforce the development resources in the foreign countries. Therefore, I hope we will be able to show you something like that at E3.”
Thankfully Nintendo’s competition doesn’t seem to be having an impact on the philosophies of the company. Nintendo has plenty of successful and popular franchises, so the best case scenario for their next console would be to bring in more Western titles, while still creating games with the distinctive Nintendo style. Hopefully we’ll see what kinds of games they have in mind at this year’s E3.
What exactly this announcement could be is a mystery. Is it a confirmation of a multi-platform title for the Wii 2? Is it about a new alliance with a big name company like Epic Games or Ubisoft? We already know that Retro is working on something for the system, and there’s still the big rumor that Grand Theft Auto V could appear on it as well.
Perhaps this announcement is to confirm one of the many rumors going around? Leave any thoughts you may have in the comment section below.
We’ll keep you up to date on the third-party titles that may or may not be in development for Project Cafe as they are announced.