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Microsoft’s Act Of Self Preservation Vs. Nintendo’s Fear Of Commitment

Sony is  about to take a massive punch to the mouth. When Microsoft made a staggering offer to Activision/ Bizzard, the video game industry was shaken to its  core.  Playstation has almost always been King.  From the underwhelming sales of the Nintendo Gamecube to the lackluster debut of the XBox One, the Playstation easily claimed the throne and asserted dominance over the market.  

Things may be shifting in Microsoft’s favor.  Sony’s first major issue came with its disastrous launch that left fans confused and angry.  Microsoft found an ingenious way to circumvent the shortage of consoles and roll out Game Pass. 

For $9.99 a month, Game Pass allows you to play your favorite games on your PC. This convenience for XBox gamers, and turned out to be lucrative. Earning them ten to fifteen percent of the XBox content and services revenue.

If this blockbuster deal goes through, Call of Duty could be featured on Nintendo platforms for the next ten years.

Microsoft has also found a strange bedfellow in Nintendo.  The cagey video game company has inked a deal with Microsoft that will bring the Call of Duty series to the Big N for ten years. It is unclear if any other properties owned by Microsoft will also be available on Nintendo platforms.  However, Call of Duty has been absent from Nintendo’s third party roster since its underwhelming performance on the Wii-U. This is a huge deal for Nintendo.

This appears to be an olive branch that has been extended from Microsoft to Nintendo, but there is a possibility that something more insidious lies behind this landmark deal.

The European Union Has Stricter Antitrust Laws Than The US

At Sony’s insistence, the EU is heavily scrutinizing and vetting this deal.  Meaning that Microsoft is not out of the woods yet. If things don’t go their way, this highly anticipated deal is finished.  By signing with Nintendo, Microsoft softens the blow of the anti-trust accusations and presents the investigators with a convincing argument that they do not intend on building a monopoly.

Sony is not happy with the power moves being made by Microsoft, and has appealed to the European Union to block the Activision deal.

This move is smart.  Sony and the investigators lose a huge chunk of their case, and Microsoft still profits off of every unit of Call of Duty that Nintendo sells.  This is a brilliant move by Microsoft.

However, this move does come with some risks.  Especially considering who they are making this deal with.

Nintendo’s Track Record Is Less Than Stellar When It Comes To Partnerships

If anybody has ever picked up a Playstation controller, and noticed the stark similarities between said controller and the Super Nintendo controller,  there is a  reason for that.  At one point in time, Sony expressed an interest in entering the Video Game Industry.  Nintendo seemed willing, and even happy to take Sony under its wing and form a partnership with them.  Things were amicable, and even friendly at first.  A prototype was  designed.  Fans were starting to get very excited.  

A photo of the Ultrarare prototype for the ill-fated Super NES Playstation designed by Sony.

It wasn’t long before egos started clashing.  

  • Sony wanted to look to the future and market their games to adults. They also wanted to push for more 3D gameplay, and a CD format.
  • Nintendo insisted on their already successful business model and wanted their games to remain on cartridges.

This led to a standstill where neither side would budge.  Things came to a head when Ken Kutaragi, the mastermind behind the proposed merger and later on the Playstation itself, saw his dreams dashed when Nintendo walked away without notice and partnered with Philips instead.  This led to many hard feelings on Sony’s end. As you can see today, they refused to let their vision die.

Nintendo Would Soon Regret Partnering with Philips

There is not much to say about this partnership.  The Philips CD-I was a disaster from the start. The controllers were clunky, the load times were awful.  The game library was abysmal.  Some of Nintendo’s worst works reside on this system that would be rejected by a dumpster fire if you tried to throw them in.  The Zelda installment was a cruel joke to fans.  Hotel Mario was a ridiculous concept.  In short, the Philips CD-I makes the Virtual Boy look like a PS5. It is very rare to hear anybody who works for Nintendo mention this misfire.  It is The Big N’s Personal version of Voldemort.

When Nintendo turned their back on Sony, the end result was the Philips CD-i. Quite possibly one of the worst video game consoles in history.

The “Unprecedented Partnership” That disintegrated on takeoff.

In 2012, Nintendo announced it’s highly anticipated follow up to the wildly successful Wii.  Titled the Wi-U, this console would usher Nintendo into the Hi-Def era.  An innovative game pad gave you a multiscreen playing experience. Millions of built in fans from it’s predecessor, and an impressive showing at the E3 expo, had Electronic Arts (EA) wanting in badly.  The the potential of using the revolutionary gamepad as a playbook for their Madden franchise was a big sell.  First person shooters and RPGs would have an entirely different feel with this style of play.

EA and Nintendo announced an unprecedented partnership at E3 in 2012. The partnership dissolved shortly after the Wii-U launched.

After many negotiations, EA and Nintendo agreed to form an unprecedented partnership.  Unfortunately, they would never make it to the Honeymoon.  While the initial sales of the Wii-U were impressive opening at about 400,000 units, sales steadily declined.  This, combined with an inferior hard drive, and an e-shop with a painfully slow DLC speed meant that many publishers declined to provide DLC for the console.

EA offered to overhaul and control Nintendo’s E-Shop and Online play.  Nintendo, declined.  The Unprecedented Partnership was no more and EA only published 4 games for Nintendo, all of which were ports. 

The Final Takeaway

Microsoft has been behind since The XBox One disappointed.  Slowly, they have been righting the course.  Like Captain Ahab destined to pursue The Whale to the ends of the Earth, Microsoft resolved to pull the harpoons back on Sony and end their reign.

However, Nintendo has a penchant for disloyalty to people with whom they have struck deals.  If Microsoft can pull this off and gain ground in the console wars, it would be worth the gamble.  If Nintendo resorts to their old tricks and backs out, it would make Microsoft look extremely foolish. 

Nobody knows this story better than Sony, and I am sure that they are watching this development very closely.

Thank You for reading.  When I am not reading I enjoy spending time with my Wife Barbara, my three year old daughter Frankie, and my hound Marbles.

For more insightful takes, and thoughtful conversations, please check us out on our Youtube channel.  Stay Geeky Everybody!

 

 

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