Nintendo is "irrelevant" in console business, says former THQ president

Jason Rubin writes off Mario maker in the hardware space, calls for company to release Mario and Zelda on rival systems.

Naughty Dog cofounder and former president of the now-defunct publisher THQ has spoken out to say Nintendo has no place next to Microsoft and Sony in the console business.

"Nintendo's irrelevant as a hardware manufacturer in the console business," Rubin said during the latest episode of Bonus Round on GameTrailers.

He said you can look to Nintendo's own financial data for proof. Nintendo has sold 3.61 million Wii U systems around the world since launch--below internal expectations--and plans to sell 9 million by the end of March 2014.

Despite his eagerness to write Nintendo off in the console hardware space, Rubin described Nintendo as a "worldwide treasure" and praised iconic designer Shigeru Miyamoto for his contributions to the industry.

However, he also lamented Nintendo's decision to keep its tentpole franchises like Mario and Zelda exclusive to first-party platforms.

"It is a crime that we do not play those games on the systems that we have," Rubin said.

The original Wii outperformed the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 by a healthy margin, selling more than 100 million consoles, compared to 80 million each for the aging consoles from Microsoft and Sony.

While not a home console, Nintendo's family of 3DS systems is a top-performer in the handheld hardware space. In October, the 3DS sold 452,000 units in the United States alone, outperforming the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

1083 comments
Yamitora1
Yamitora1

Mario belongs on Nintendo Platforms, it should never migrate to other systems. Sure it was once on the Atari, but Nintendo is built for playing Mario Bros.

Donkey Kong, well I guess that too could remain on the Nintendo only...after all there is not much drive for the series anymore. What, they like get maybe one game every 5-10 years? The last one I can remember was that bongo controller one. Outside of that, I only remember seeing Kong in the Super Smash Bros games.

As for Zelda and some other Nintendo properties, I think cross-platform releases would be great. I would love to play a Zelda game with the power of a PS4 under the hood. Imagine the kind of gameplay seen in Final Fantasy, but with LoZ instead.

Metroid could also benefit from a multi-platform spread. I think the PC, Xbox 360 and Xbone would easily hands down be the best platforms.

Even if not released onto home consoles, it would be nice to have an option to Officially and legally play titles on the PC. Surely Nintendo could release some of their traditionally one player games onto the PC/Mac. Has Nintendo ever released anything onto the PC or Mac? If not, Nintendo is missing a market that, while not family driven, is still a under appreciated market on behalf of Nintendo. 

asulaeagle
asulaeagle

I agree with some of your assessment but I think there's two sides to the issue. I don't know all the details of the situation (I don't know anybody within these companies). However, one thing I've noticed since the gamecube is all the watered down ports third party developers produce for Nintendo Systems. I understand watered down ports for the first Wii but watered down ports for the Gamecube (it was stronger than a PS2) and the Wii U is questionable (considering the Wii U is stronger than a PS3 and 360). It doesn't happen with every multi-plat game but it happens more often than it should.


Bethesda Vice President, Peter Hines, said he doesn't consider a future with Nintendo because they didn't involve the company early on with the Wii U's development like Microsoft and Sony. I understand where he's coming from with this point but feel lost on his second point.


"You have to spend an unbelieveable amount of time upfront doing that," Hines says. "If you're going to sort of decide 'Well, we're going to make a box and this is how it's going to work, and you should make games for it," - well, no! No is my answer!"


Wtf is that? Its almost like saying because you guys didn't build the system around what we wanted we won't make games for it even if you ask us to. The reason I raise this point is because you can see the possible almost obvious influence third parties had with the PS4 and Xb1's development. The architecture for both consoles are more like PC's making it easier for games to be ported between both and for developers, like bethesda who make PC games, to develop games easier (supposedly). 


The argument for console architecture and the criticism I see Nintendo get for having its differences with its own I feel shouldn't be an issue for third parties. For example, take companies like Capcom and Square Enix who consistently produce great looking games for all systems (even ported ones between the 360 and Ps3). Why can't some third parties take the challenge of producing fully optimized ports or original IP's for the Wii U? Obviously the hardware can push great graphics (not as detailed and probably can't handle as strong physics as XB1 and PS4) but the hardware gap this generation I don't think will be huge like it was with the first Wii. 


The problem I have with making consoles more like computers is that I might as well build a gaming computer or get a Steam Machine. Especially, if games like Halo 5 and Final Fantasy 15 get ported to PC. 


And that's an area where I feel Nintendo Stands out because I can't get their games or playing experiences (gamepad and wii mote) anywhere else. Time will tell whether this continues to benefit them or not but hopefully it does and hopefully both sides can set things right (Nintendo and third parties). In the meantime I hope third party developers can show more confidence and take advantage of the Wii U's strengths instead of what it doesn't have in comparison to the Xb1 and PS4.

Dimebag_Darrell
Dimebag_Darrell

All we can take away from this is that Nintendo still has one problem they haven't been able to solve. Good relations with third party developers. They have become so accustomed to relying on their in-house and exclusive franchises (Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Smash Bros., Pokemon, etc..) that they do not care if this is the response they get from developers. It has been like this for decades, which is why this keeps being said over and over again. We all know Nintendo isn't going down any time soon as long as they have their stable of franchises, but they REALLY gotta work on their relations with other game companies or it's gonna hurt them in the long run.

DesertLynx83
DesertLynx83

And we've heard this how many times before? Never count them out. And, as people pointed out, this guy was the president of a company that failed under his watch.

mwenk2005
mwenk2005

Oh okay, sure... N's irrelevant.  Yeah.  I wonder if this guy knows how many times this has been said.  And I can see why any of the third parties would love to see less consoles in the market.  And every one of these old time devs would love to see N die and die painfully.  After all, N's the entire reason why they're all beholden to the console manufacturers.  

But I'd never say N's gone until I see the bankruptcy auction.  

Guest1001
Guest1001

I'm no fan of Nintendo ... but it'd be suicide to release Mario and Zelda on other systems. I actually want a Mario game for only the second time in my life and to do that, I need a Wii U.

Not going to get one but still, it's not like Sony or Microsoft have wowed me with their "been there, done that" offerings.

xGr4ffitix
xGr4ffitix

I highly doubt that Nintendo will be out of the running for a while, if ever. I know it might sound weird, but I wish Nintendo would start to fail a little harder, for one main reason. To cause panic. Why? Well, because it would open their eyes to what needs to be done, and listen to the consumer, rather than trying to find odd ways to appeal to the masses. Wii sold a shit ton because it was something new and different, but at the same time, it wasn't that amazing at all, and when the Wii U came along, people just see it as another marketing ploy. Maybe if they start to do crappy, they'll pay attention. Hopefully they'll stop being selfish, let in a lot of 3rd parties, get some indie support, put a little power behind it for those OMG GRAPHICS fans, and bring back some of the old games in new settings. Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Golden Sun. MASSIVE amounts of potential and opportunity. Just none taken. Again, I don't count Nintendo out at all, but I hope they kick it up a notch. Also, listen to the failure of a businessman talk about how another company is irrelevant. Seems entirely legit.

blaze_boy30
blaze_boy30

Nintendo is irrelevant you say? What's that? You're the former president of THQ? You mean the now defunct THQ? I guess he know a thing or two about irrelevance...

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

I suppose Jason Rubin does not seem to be aware that he was one of the top suits of a defunct company. I would take his claims with a proverbial fistful of salt.

blair_hstn
blair_hstn

Says the President of a company that JUST WENT UNDER -___- ... Under HIS presidency.  It's hard not to roll your eyes when you see people in glass houses throwing stones. It's like when Donald Rumsfeld gave the current President advice on Iraq and Afghanistan. Are these people out of their minds? Time to get out the bubble because last time I checked the WII U is the only next-gen console with actual "GAMES" and I suspect Nintendo launched their console a year earlier with that goal in mind. Wii U games just in time for Christmas 2013.

cainetao11
cainetao11

While I don't believe Nintendo is irrelevant, they are setting themselves up to be so. The Wii was a great move. But they are trying to catch lightning again with the tablet, and failing. The industry you're in dictates and although you can bring new things and alter it to profitability, at some point you have to play ball with the industry as well.

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

I think the nature of "most" Consoles were irrelevant, specifically the closed one, by locking the capabilities to support backward compatibility and updated hardware, Platform-holders basically shooting themselves in the foot.

Unlike PCs, closed-consoles literally trapped with the past (can't play previous games) and future (can't produce superb graphic). so whenever so-called "next gen" being released to the masses, the company either sink or swim. They starting over, gamers starting over, so does overall investments.

PCs or Consoles-space won't died (that's for sure), but "Brands" will constantly died/change (SEGA, THQ, Atari, 3Dfx, ATI, etc)

Past success doesn't measure anything (i.e PS2, Wii), and that's applied to every company (including Nintendo).

HowlPendragon
HowlPendragon

I would consider thinking about possibly not ignoring this guy if he wasn't the former president of a failed game company.

Saints Row was alright, but when its your crowning achievement you have no business passing judgement on a hugely successful company such as Nintendo.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

Yeah because the over 100 year old company Nintendo should take business advice from the doofus who couldn't even keep his own company from failing.

michyeosseo
michyeosseo

Crystal Meth is one hell of a drug, people! Either that or this guy got really dizzy from playing his irrelevant 3DS too often.

jd7904
jd7904

One problem with this man stating Nintendo has no place in the console business with MS and Sony.  The PS4 and Xbone are locked down, under powered, proprietary PCs.Nintendo is the only one that released a video game console this generation.

Hurvl
Hurvl

"However, he also lamented Nintendo's decision to keep its tentpole franchises like Mario and Zelda exclusive to first-party platforms." I can say the same about every game that's exclusive to one platform (or a platform that I don't have). That doesn't make companies change their ways.

"Nintendo has no place next to Microsoft and Sony in the console business" That's old news, Nintendo was never in the same league as Xbox or PS. It didn't even want to be in the same league. It was made very clear with the Wii that Nintendo was targeting other customers than Xbox and PS, but even before the Wii it had a unique position.

Boddicker
Boddicker

If Nintendo's follow up to the Wii-U doesn't absolutely pull in more consumers and 3rd party support I'd say they've run out of options.

They'll have no choice but to go to 3rd party.

bunchanumbers
bunchanumbers

3DS player would go a long way towards fixing this. A addon to the Wii U that allows you to play 3DS games on your tv and uses the tablet as the lower screen. It looks like this was the original idea all along so they should just as well as do this. Then the Wii Us library grows exponentially with good games. 

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

"He said you can look to Nintendo's own financial data for proof. Nintendo has sold 3.61 million Wii U systems around the world since launch--below internal expectations--and plans to sell 9 million by the end of March 2014."

He must not know how many systems their other consoles have sold.  He seems bitter.

spike6958
spike6958

@19James89 You act like no one here likes, or at some point liked, Nintendo except you. Truth is, most people you find on here who are mid-20's or older all have fond memories of Nintendo. Playing Super Mario World, Super Metroid and A Link to the Past on the SNES is still one of my greatest childhood memories, and Pokemon Red is the game that turned me full-on into gaming, but you're delusional if you can't see how much Nintendo has changed. Back then they experimented with unique games and ideas, but now everything is just Mario or Mii's, even there established franchises are getting less and less showtime and some seem to only be kept around so they have people to put in SmashBros.

They also lost 3rd parties because of there stubbornness, they refused to move forward with the N64 and stuck with carts instead of going with a Disc based system, which lost them a number of previously exclusive series like Final Fantasy, and the WiiU is another in a long line of "fuck you's" pointed at developers, at this point it seems like they do it on purpose, especially when they require devs that work on the system to incorporate the frankly useless gamepad screen, it's no wonder many have simply abandoned Nintendo.

I'd like to point out that if Nintendo ever did pull it's head from it's ass and release a system that's on par with the rest of that generations system so I could still get the 3rd party games I enjoy, I'd be very tempted to actually go with them over Sony or Microsoft because Nintendo has great exclusives, but I'm not going to buy a second systems just for one or two games a year.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@xGr4ffitix

" let in a lot of 3rd parties, get some indie support, put a little power behind it for those OMG GRAPHICS fans"

Do you think honestly believe Nintendo's pushing away 3rd parties? They left the launch window open to highlight 3rd parties yet many of those 3rd parties didn't deliver. 

Nintendo has a great deal of Indie support, probably just as much as Sony, they just weren't bragging about it as much as Sony was. 

Have you seen some of the upcoming games for the Wii U? If those titles don't look good enough to the "OMG GRAPHICS" fans, then there's no point in wasting money (because the system would be more expensive) just to appeal to a small group of shallow people. 

x_hunter00
x_hunter00

@blaze_boy30 I guess the fact he co-founded Naughty Dog means nothing to you. You know Naughty Dog right? The company that made Uncharted and The Last of Us.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@blair_hstn You do know he joined the company as President once they were basically already dead right?  Learn your history before you say something stupid.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@jd7904 The Wii U is also a PC, it's just even MORE locked down and underpowered.  Really.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

@Boddicker There is another choice... leaving the game industry. They don't need to suffer like SEGA and the Atari name.

skateryanboarde
skateryanboarde

@Boddicker I think Nintendo is betting on the strategy that their hardware will sell as their software lineup improves. I would think that if they're proven wrong with the Wii U, they will likely reevaluate that approach with their next console. 

19James89
19James89

@daikkenaurora12 People keep saying this 3.6 million figure, the current figure stands at 4.1million units shifted and counting...

asulaeagle
asulaeagle

@spike6958 @19James89

I respect your opinion but i disagree with your points. I believe that Nintendo has been the most innovative console maker out of  the big three. It is apparent that Nintendo's innovation in gaming has influenced Microsoft and Sony: Kinect, Eye toy, motion controls, avatars, off tv play, etc.. Though there versions have not proven to be successful. Nintendo chose to experiment with how people play games and it was a success with the Wii. The only two things Microsoft and Sony have done to advance gaming in the last ten years has been better graphics and online infrastructure which is great but I don't find it as innovating with regards to how we play games (PC's were providing online gaming experiences before consoles did). 

I remember back when Nintendo had the second most powerful console on the market, the Gamecube, most muli platform games got watered down ports for the system by third party developers. For example, NBA live ran better on the PS2 even though  its hardware was weaker than the Gamecube and I never understood why developers didn't optimize their games for the Gamecube. The only company I remember taking full advantage of the hardware besides Nintendo was Capcom with the Resident Evil series. Unfortunately, some the third party games on the Wii U have had shoddy ports and that's not Nintendo's fault especially when you have a system that's stronger than a 360 and PS3.

With regards to third party support the Wii U has COD, AC4, Splinter Cell, Deus Ex, and others (its even getting Project Cars which is only coming out for next gen consoles and PC).

The first Wii was huge success and had fantastic games but I agree with others that Nintendo should have pushed the hardware further so that it could have produced consistent software (my Wii collected dust for awhile). However, the Wii U has great graphics and I don't think the hardware gap will be huge this generation in comparison to the first Wii and the other two consoles.

I bought the Wii U because I was interested in the Gamepad and because of Monolith's 'X."  I took a chance and it was worth it. I think the Wii U is a fantastic system and I am impressed with its features including its interface. The Gamepad is like having a larger and better DS. And I like the different ways it is employed.  I like using it as a second monitor in Monster Hunter. I set the gamepad next to my tv screen and customize it so that the health bar, map, and other status bars are placed on the pad freeing up my tv screen. Switching guns and using herbs in Resident Evil Revelations by simply touching the screen with my thumb without having to go to the menu every time makes the gameplay smoother. Playing Tekken Tag using off tv play at night is awesome. When I get tired I just power down the Gamepad and go to bed. Using the touch screen to draw the Wizard's boxes in Trine 2 is fun and convenient. What I also like about the system is that it gives you options on how you play games. Most games are compatible with 3 or 4 different controllers ( I don't have to drop 40 or 60$ bucks for a new gen controller) and along with that there are different ways you can play games (motion controls, traditional controls, gamepad, combination, etc...) 

The only confirmed games I want to play for the X1 and PS4 are Halo 5 and FF15 but thats not enough for me to get them yet. Those two look like great systems with interesting features but their emphasis on media entertainment and social networking features doesn't appeal to me. The Wii U does enough for me in those departments and its free.

As a gamer I don't have an emphasis on having the best graphics but as a consumer and from a business perspective I understand the argument for a stronger GPU (to sell systems) but as I said earlier I don't believe the gap is going to be huge this generation graphics wise and great looking games are being made for the system (Cant wait for next year).


abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@spike6958 @19James89 

Did what on purpose? No developer has reported that Nintendo's forcing them to make use of the GamePad, it was exactly the same way with the Wii, the developers didn't have to use motion controls if they didn't want to. I fail to see how the Wii U is an "F U" to developers when it's much more capable than the PS3/360. 

At the end of the day, 3rd party games simply don't sell that well on Nintendo's systems. It's not because the system isn't powerful enough or Nintendo being stubborn, the consumer just doesn't give a damn about 3rd party games on Nintendo's systems, both home console and handhelds, doesn't matter if Nintendo heavily advertises the game and/or if the 3rd party puts out an amazing game, consumers just don't care so there's no point in Nintendo wasting more money just to make a console that's somewhat more powerful (Nintendo has always tried to make their consoles affordable, if the Wii U launched at a $350 price tag, what would a more powerful console cost?). 

Also if you're going to criticize Nintendo for not experimenting with new ideas, make sure you criticize pretty much all other major developers because last I checked, majority of the new IPs that came out in the past few years were done by smaller developers and Indies. 

komuchen
komuchen

@spike6958 @19James89 At least Nintendo doesn't cut games just to get a chunk of DLC money - also, how do you know about that 2 games per year thing? This year there was Pikmin, TW101, SM3DW, these games alone will take you from 20 to 40-60 hrs to beat each, some 3rd party, few indies... When you are talking adult, then 3-4 games per year doesn't look like a problem at all, because you don't have that much time to play games anymore, and Nintendo games are packed with a lot content. Not BS like game is not released but there is already talk about day one DLC or sequel or shitting the broken game out to the stores and fix it later.

GamePad is not a problem, because DS and 3DS - no developer has no problem with it from what I can see... the problem is, I guess, architecture of the system, because nowadays developers are lazy and they wanted x86 systems, so they've got X1 and PS4 with nearly the same specs. They don't want to screw around with something like Cell or other "outlandish" tech.

People abandoned Nintendo, because mentality is "it's kiddie console and games", and MS/Sony are the kings and everyone will eat their shit as long as they say it's holy grail of gaming - because Knack rocks, right? Now we have CoD/Halo gen, what Nintendo should do actually is to create more co-op/online games, like back in 64 days, on Wii online was broken.

But that's just my opinion of course.

corrus
corrus

@spike6958 @19James89They never gonna do that cos they don't want to lose their money and about the thing with 3rd parties they don't like it cos they have to share with other devs and they don't want that with other words they gonna ruin themselves cos are too greedy and arrogant

x_hunter00
x_hunter00

@abHS4L88 @xGr4ffitix Name one of those so called "OMG Graphics" game your touting. 'Cause I haven't heard of any new impressive games coming out for the WiiU.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@x_hunter00
"X" by MonolithSoft. I've actually heard of a lot of new impressive games coming out for the Wii U, but they're more impressive in what they're offering as a game, not so much in the graphics department, although MarioKart 8 looks beautiful.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@abHS4L88 @Thanatos2k That's WHY there are no 3rd party Wii games like that focused around online play.  THEY NEVER MADE THEM because the infrastructure is garbage.

Nintendo drove them away BECAUSE OF THE HARDWARE AND INFRASTRUCTURE.

The game looks cartoony because the Wii couldn't handle the actual game so they had to dumb it down.

Which was exactly my point.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@Thanatos2k 

I honestly cannot think of a single 3rd party Wii game that focused around online play that the developers themselves were so bothered by needing to use friend codes that they're no longer supporting Nintendo. 

So? What's wrong with that? The Wii is clearly weaker so the developers gave the game a more cartoony look since it would look better on the system.