With financial numbers taking a steep nosedive in 2013, many have figured big changes were in store for Nintendo this year. Some have claimed the company will introduce a new console, while others have said the Wii U and 3DS manufacturer should double down on their existing brands to turn increased profits. Whatever the case, it seems pretty clear that Nintendo needs to change their current line of thinking.
One area that many suspect could be a big turning point for Nintendo is licensing. With Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Metroid under their banner, Nintendo has one of the strongest brands in the world, and as a result they like to play things pretty close to the chest, keeping their franchises almost exclusively in-house.
However, a new quote from Nintendo President Satoru Iwata suggests the company’s recent financial troubles have urged them to a new line of thinking, one that is more open to licensing deals.
“We are not at a stage where we can share the specifics with you today, but we are seeing possibilities in licensing character IP in areas Nintendo has never worked before. I expect to be able to discuss some of the details before the end of this calendar year.”
It’s important to highlight, though, that Iwata mentions “areas Nintendo has never worked before,” which means no video game licensing deals. For the last few years, there has been some speculation that Nintendo might license its properties to other platforms or developers as a way to recoup some losses, or that they would even take on a role as a third party developer, but that doesn’t appear to be what the company is going for here. Rather, it seems more likely that Nintendo is interested in licensing their character IP for commercial goods that don’t involve video games (e.g. toys, clothing stationary, maybe even food).
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Nintendo licensing deals either, the publisher currently has partnerships with companies like Dark Horse Comics and Hybrid Apparel, and they’ve teased an expansion of that licensing reach before, but this is apparently something different. That being said, talk of licensing will lead to speculation that Nintendo is now more agreeable to the idea of licensing character IP for use in video games. Obviously not any time soon, but if they can’t course correct.
As Iwata explains, Nintendo should explain what he means when he says licensing character IP at some point this year. But don’t get your hopes up that this means multiplatform Nintendo titles…not yet.
What do you think Iwata means when he says Nintendo is open to licensing character IP? Is it only a matter of time before Nintendo properties start appearing on other platforms?