Nintendfacts- A Lack of 3rd Party is Bad for Nintendo

When I wrote about Nintendo I knew that I was going to get some negative feedback. I get it. I like Nintendo and what I wrote doesn’t praise the holy goddess Nintendo all the while they just bask in the money from the NES Classic. So for all the readers who think that I’m a bad writer or whose opinions aren’t valid. I have one question for you. What in the world are you going to do about it?

Nintendfacts- Week 1. A Review of 3rd Party

If you didn’t know on May 1st I published an article about Nintendo discussing how they are self-aware of the Switch being in trouble. I didn’t crap all over Nintendo or even tell them they were wrong. In fact I showed a few things that I personally had concerns with and some suggestions for bringing in 3rd party developers. I eventually compared this to the problems with the WiiU, and as I discussed with people on this site and twitter, I think the Switch has a great start. I hope they do everything they can to keep the ball rolling. The truth is that the writing is on the wall and to prove it I am dedicating the entire month of Fridays in May to a Segment called Nintendfacts.

So for our first Nintendfact of the month we are going to discuss how exclusives can’t keep a system or company floating and how it takes a mixture of 1st party and other parties to keep a successful business/console. Note that I am going to put a ton of links in this article, these are all going to trace back to articles and pieces discussing numbers. I just want you to know that these are facts, not opinions. (Note there are some guestimates, but when you are talking about anything numbers wise in games, you have to take a leap of faith, but the numbers are reasonable and have sound logic)

A Hit?

First let’s talk about what a hit or success is for the sake of this article. Realistically publishers set this and is based on profit margins. For the sake of simplicity we will set the bar high, say 1 million copies. For most games selling 1 million copies of a game should be a very high standard to hit, and there’s not that many that hit the mark. In that case games such as Uncharted 4, Bloodborne and Halo 5 would make the list. I think we can all agree that these are successful games. Now if we look from launch to current day we have about 6 games on the Xbox One and 8 on the Ps4 that have hit those numbers. So it’s not an easy number to hit. Again exclusives here, 3rd party games aren’t listed on purpose, that comes later.

Now let’s look at the WiiU exclusives…..15. 15 games that have sold over 1 million copies. These consoles all released within a year of each other, WiiU was the earliest, but it also dropped off pretty much last year. Now let’s compare that to the consoles sales numbers. Ps4 is at 60 million or so consoles sold and still climbing, Xbox One is at about 30+ Million, have to use some imagination there, and then the WiiU sold only 14 million units. Wait, what? Don’t exclusives sell consoles? It’s not a great number to be sure. The WiiU had games that trounced every console exclusive that Microsoft and Sony released, there’s no denying that. So why are their consoles not selling?

(All of these exclusives, yet console sales suck)

Nintendo’s games are doing great and I’m sure the Switch will have games that are going to be in a similar vote. You buy your console for the games. The WiiU’s problems were many, such as a bad controller, which I just bought a pro controller instead. It had some not so great internet features, well that’s okay because I don’t play very many games online. So what’s the major difference between the three major players? Oh right…something from the May 1st article…3rd party relations. We can joke about this all we want and I’m not suckling at the milk producing teat of 3rd party studios. I’m just looking at the facts.

 

The Switch In 2017-

Now I had a nice conversation on twitter with an individual about this and he disagreed with my article. Which hey, it’s an unpopular opinion, if it was popular I would be like every other website in the world. He or She, I don’t know, made the point that Nintendo has never had a year quite as solid as 2017 will be for the Switch. I agree, but I think I see a different side of the equation. This individual pointed out all of the games that are going to release in 2017. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which is just a re-release of a 3-year-old game, Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Splatoon 2, Arms, and Fire Emblem Warriors releasing this year. Nintendo is going to have their year of dreams, but oddly enough dreams were made to be broken, so let’s talk some numbers.

(Roman should have lost…Period)

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe already has some sale numbers and hey they are positive. Almost 500,000 copies in its first day. So how did it do when it originally released in 2014? Oh it sold over 1.2 million in its first week, and over 3 million in the first 2 months, and over 8 million copies to date. So yes Mario Kart 8 sold well on the Wii U and seems to be selling well again. Now Splatoon sold 4.8 million copies on the Wii U, I suspect that Splatoon 2 will sell in that range as well, providing that Online Fee’s aren’t too egregious. Xenoblade Chronicles X sold around 400,000 copies….total. Let’s go ahead and assume that XC2 will sell on par, maybe better. Arms is still up in the air, but lets just say a safe estimate for sales is 1 million copies if we are being optimistic and giving ourselves wiggle room.

Now let’s talk about some big hitters like Mario, Zelda and Fire Emblem. These are extremely well established franchises so they should sell even more copies. The last 2 3d Mario games, Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. Galaxy 1 has sold over 12 million in its life time, and Galaxy 2 has sold over 7 million copies in its life time. So obviously huge bestsellers. So we can safely assume that over the lifetime of Super Mario Odysseys release we are going to see over 13 million copies, and hey it looks awesome. Breath of the Wild already has some sale numbers too, about 2.5 million copies.

(Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?)

Which hey that’s great! It’s selling well and will most likely outsell the previous title, Skyward Sword which sold close to 4 million copies. So we can assume that Breath of the Wild will sell at least 4 million over time. Breath of the Wild is also on two consoles and about 1/2 million of the current copies sold are Wii U copies. Now what about Fire Emblem? Well the last big title, Fates sold nearly 1.6 million copies for 3ds and it’s a little too early to talk about the newest game. So let’s get down to the fact guys!! THE FACTS!

 

The FACTS!!!

How many consoles has Nintendo sold on the switch again, right almost 3 million consoles. how many will it sell by the end of the year? Well we don’t know this but we can get a pretty good estimate right? Nintendo is currently having a manufacturing problem or you know the fake supply and demand they always feed us every new console generation.  For Nintendo to make it’s max profitability it needs to sell at least 13 million Switch consoles by December of 2017. Which could be doable, that’s also if all of the games release on time, which I’m betting at least one title will be pushed back to next year, but that’s just conjecture.

(I hope this releases this year)

So let’s add up the games that are releasing this year and what kind of estimate we can get for total number of copies sold. Mario Kart 8 could sell about 6 million copies total, Splatoon 2 could sell about 5 million, but it may suffer due to charging for online, Xenoblade X2 lets say 500,000 copies, Arms is 1 million estimate, Zelda we will say 5 million, Mario close to 12 million and then lets say best case scenario 1 million on Fire Emblem Warriors. Which is being super nice considering that Hyrule Warriors only sold about 1/4 million copies and Zelda is way more beloved than Fire Emblem.

(I really hope they make a second one)

Then we have all of the indie games, 3rd parties who aren’t Activision or Ubisoft, and lets just say a total of about 5 million games for random titles. Elder Scrolls could influence this a little, but I’m doubting that a game over 4 years old is going to sell over a million copies. It could though. So that puts us on a grand total of about 36-37 million games sold on the switch in 2017. I think we can all agree that it’s a pretty generous number, but probably pretty solid. Now let’s take the top 8 games from 3rd party in 2016 and see how many games Nintendo is leaving on the table.

Third-Party Numbers

(Note I’m just putting the two links, all of these numbers are from VGChartz, i’m not going to add a million links) Infinite Warfare sold around 12 millions copies, Battlefield 1 is 11 million copies, The Division 7 million, NBA 2k (which is coming to the Switch) and Madden (which is not) sell around 5 million a piece, GTA V 5 million (no solid numbers but Overwatch is under it and it sold around 5 million), and then Overwatch which sold close to 5 million copies. So top 8 games from 3rd party sold close to 50 million copies. Also remember that NPD was probably not following digital sales at certain points, so these numbers are probably lower than they should be. Also the Switch version of NBA 2k whatever year is next will probably sell good, but I doubt it will steal too many copies from Ps4 or Xbox One.

(I’ll never understand the fandom these games have….)

Now just to be fair we are going to split this number in three since we have PS4, Xbox One and PC users on many of these games. I know this isn’t a true breakdown due to actual facts saying otherwise and NPD saying other-wise, so just remember this number is lower than what it should be on some systems and higher on others. So we have around 17 million games sold that switch is missing out on.

 

The First Party Difference

Nintendo has a completely mobile game console that I can take to work and play their games on my breaks, and I do every day. It’s a huge selling point of the Switch. So back to numbers for a second. Exclusives on other consoles exclusively Ps4, I would talk about Microsoft, but they are so secretive with numbers that talking NPD about them is really tough with exclusives. Ps4 in 2016 had the last guardian, 1 million copies, Ratchet and Clank, 2 million copies, Uncharted 4, about 9 million, Street Fighter V, about 1 million and not to include all of the other exclusives. So about 13 million copies sold (Again VGChartz). So now we add the 17 million in from 3rd party and we get…30 million….games sold…

Now I can hear you in your bathroom as you are grunting to get that monster turd through the tightest canals of Venice and you are saying, “THE PLATINUMIST IS WRONG!”. Wait a second there Suzie, there’s more than just numbers.

Let’s get real for a second and talk the facts over. The top 8 games listed for the switch coming out this year won’t see new games in their respective franchises for years. Zelda will probably be another 3-5 years before the next title releases. Mario will probably have a game next year, but it won’t be a 3d Mario and if it is, it’s probably a remake, but still it won’t sell nearly the gang busters that Odyssey will. So about 3 years, if we are lucky, before we see another true 3d Mario title. These great games take time and they sell well because of it. The smaller exclusives are going to sell, but it takes a lot of them to make up for the gap of a Zelda and Mario. The issue here is going to be 2018 and 2019. Nintendo isn’t going to have their two biggest franchises to stand on.

2018-2019

So in the best case scenario Nintendo will release another Pikmin, Donkey Kong, F-Zero, Pokémon, and possibly Metroid. Again, this is the best case scenario, I doubt this is reality. We won’t guess sales numbers but I can promise you these titles aren’t going to make 30+ million in sales. In fact if they sold 15+ million copies total it would be a great achievement. We already know that in 2018 and 2019 3rd party games are going to sell somewhat close to the same number of games. So 17 million copies per console and PC, and you can fluctuate that number a few million dependent on other big 3rd party releases.

1st party releases are what constantly stays in Flux. Think of 2017 for Sony so far, they have had Nioh, which sold over 1 million copies, Horizon Zero dawn which has sold over 3 million copies by now, Persona 5 is over 1.5 million copies and that number will only get bigger. So remember that this has a huge influence. Oh and also remember a little company called RockStar, Red Dead Redemption 2 comes out this year and don’t be surprised if that sells over 30 million copies. Bethesda probably has a new Scrolls game coming next year so be prepared for that and most likely, won’t be on Switch, again if I had to guess.

(I mean realistically we won’t get another one like this for a few years, at least)

The Results

Look we know that every year Nintendo is going to have games that will come out and sell well. I would never dispute that, however they constantly are leaving money on the floor by not having a strong 3rd party presence. These numbers don’t lie folks! I don’t want Nintendo to have another generation like the Wii U and without 3rd party support they are going to fall some years and other years they will do great. If you think that my May 1st article about Nintendo and how they know the writing on the wall is full of crap, then just look at the numbers. The WiiU’s top-selling games sold over 50 million copies alone! No other console can claim that!

This is also without a full-fledged Zelda, Breath of the Wilds Wii U sales aren’t even big enough to matter. There also wasn’t a full-fledged 3d Mario game akin to Mario 64 or Super Mario Galaxy. The Wii U did not have those yet still sold their games amazingly well. The proof is in the pudding, or the sales in this case.

(I mean there was this, but it wasn’t truly a 3d Mario…. putting 3d in the title doesn’t make it so Nintendo!)

Sony and Microsoft are doing great because they have big companies who are sitting right beside them when they don’t have content to sell. Sony doesn’t need a new god of war every year. When they don’t Bethesda has a new Elder Scrolls game and then that makes up for it. Microsoft doesn’t need a new Halo every year because then Square Enix will have another Final Fantasy to sell. This is a constant back and forth struggle that has to be played equally on both parts. The Ps4 is one of the most successful consoles of all time right now and that isn’t an over exaggeration. It is looking to outsell the best consoles and its rise hasn’t slowed down one bit. This isn’t because of exclusives, it’s because of 3rd freaking parties!

The End of Week 1-

So do you still disagree with me? Then I’m glad you are currently blind and can’t read or see numbers. Do you see the evidence in a different way? Then I’m glad that the Wii U is currently topping the NPD sales charts for the most popular console of all time.

Oh and Nintendo fan boys, you really need another Hobby, you make it too easy…