So let me preface this by saying that I hope Nintendo stays a console manufacturer and keeps all their games first party. I don’t want to see them default on the console business in favor of simply making software. However, their future continues to be uncertain. Third party support for Nintendo platforms is dwindling, gamers are getting tired of Nintendo always trying reinvent the wheel(unsuccessfully I might add. You can consider the Wii a success, but motion controls have since fallen out of favor, revealing it as a passing fad.) and shirking traditional controls that make other consoles more accessible, and in addition to all that their online platform is way behind in terms of functionality.
On a first-party front alone, Nintendo puts up quite a fight with their quality software, but their hardware tends to be 50/50. A lot of people suggest that Nintendo simply take their first party software and go third-party. And there is truth in the fact that a lot of Nintendo gamers have moved to other platforms for various reasons, and there are gamers that have never owned a Nintendo console, but would love to play their games. Not everyone can shell out for multiple systems, especially when the only selling point is its first-party lineup. And so the question that a lot of people ask is: Why doesn’t Nintendo just take their IP’s and jump the console ship?
The answer to that is because Nintendo likes to make their games on their own consoles. There’s a sort of pride there. Not only that, but Nintendo was the company that pulled the gaming industry out of its mini-depression, it was the company that forced the now common-place analog stick on developers by making that odd N64 controller. They have some good credits to their name and their understandably proud that their consoles have done all that, while the competitors provide a more stagnant model every couple of years. But now that the competition has found their footing and taken a very large chunk of the gaming community by storm, Nintendo is getting left behind and their attempts at innovating are failing either because they just aren’t good innovations or because they clash with gamers.
This has all led to speculation that Nintendo should go the way of Sega, but many fear that if they do, they’ll become like Sega and go down the drain as a publisher. And personally, I don’t see that happening. Sure, Sega had some good titles, but at the same time they were prone to bad business practices, and that ultimately led to their undoing as a console manufacturer and translated to their games following that. Micro-transactions and that abomination known as Sonic Boom, their abysmal localization practices in recent years, etc. Nintendo on the other hand is only going down the tube in terms of home consoles because they try too hard and too often to reinvent the wheel and its alienated many gamers. Their software on the other hand is high quality and releases as a complete and mostly-bug free product, and its doubtful that that would change should they go strictly third-party. If anything it would mean that they could commit even more of their resources to their games. Sales would also increase because all those former Nintendo gamers and gamers who want Nintendo software will now be able to purchase those games, in addition to those that had always been loyal to Nintendo. Their first or second party devs would also now have access to state of the art graphical and processing capabilities, something that the NX is rumored to have, but is not confirmed.
So all in all, I can’t see Nintendo going third-party as a bad thing other than that they would lose their legacy as a console manufacturer and a gaming superpower. But Nintendo would be able to continue producing their high quality and very recognizable titles, while also taking advantage of the best tech around. Is it the ideal way to go? No. As I said I’d love for them to continue making consoles so long as they don’t go bankrupt in the process, but at the same time I’d also rather see them swallow their pride and go multi-plat to preserve the company, as losing Nintendo all together would be a major blow to the industry. Hopefully it never comes to that.