Nintendo's 3rd party relations in NES and SNES era

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#1 Posted by nameless12345 (15125 posts) -

I would like to know if some knowledgeable posters on here could provide some information regarding Nintendo's 3rd party policies in the NES and SNES eras.

I have heard many things, from game content censorship to "illegal contracts" prohibiting the 3rd parties from making games for the competition. (i.e. Sega)

But I would like to hear more about it because it seems strange to me that those two systems had very good 3rd party support in spite of the harsh policies Nintendo had at the time.

I know the "downfall" started with the 64, which was left by a lot of 3rd parties due to difficult game development, small cartridge space, expensive cartridges, ect., but prior to that 3rd party support on Nintendo's home systems thrieved.

So what exactly was going on and why did the 3rd parties support Nintendo anyway?

Was is simply in the interest of better sales or was there some other reason? (i.e. no "good enough" alternatives or the like)

Of course you can leave a comment even if you aren't that knowledgeable about the subject.

#2 Posted by Eddie-Murphy48 (906 posts) -

I would like to know if some knowledgeable posters on here could provide some information regarding Nintendo's 3rd party policies in the NES and SNES eras.

I have heard many things, from game content censorship to "illegal contracts" prohibiting the 3rd parties from making games for the competition. (i.e. Sega)

But I would like to hear more about it because it seems strange to me that those two systems had very good 3rd party support in spite of the harsh policies Nintendo had at the time.

I know the "downfall" started with the 64, which was left by a lot of 3rd parties due to difficult game development, small cartridge space, expensive cartridges, ect., but prior to that 3rd party support on Nintendo's home systems thrieved.

So what exactly was going on and why did the 3rd parties support Nintendo anyway?

Was is simply in the interest of better sales or was there some other reason? (i.e. no "good enough" alternatives or the like)

Of course you can leave a comment even if you aren't that knowledgeable about the subject.

nameless12345
It was a scam pretty much. I don;t see the confusion. When third-parties signed up for Nintendo on the NEs there was a ridiculous contract or contrats filled with dumb rules. One of which was disabling others from releasing on other consoles for a set period time among others. This was most infamous because it prevented 3rd-party support for the MD and the 7800 from both WESTERN and EASTERN devs and inbetween. Like the 7800 had a very nice launch but half the companies couldn't release games for competing consoles after the NES for a lenthy amount of time. some just stuck with Nintendo because by the time they were done, they wpould have finished other games, or that game would be outdated. Some companies made deals, and some companies went around it. another was how many games a company could put out. Around the SNES time, these as well as other limitations where changed or gone entirely, although SEGA for a couple years still had to push a lot of stuff themselves. Some stayed with the SNES due to how big the SNES was, and some tried to release on Genesis by moving to it or multiplat. So when the N64 came out Nintendos third-party support made perfect sense since they never really earned third-parties respect anyway, the N64 had a few issues with third-party on policies as well It took till the Gamcube before Nintedno started being nice, but they always did things even on the Gamecube, which prevented third-parties from being close. The Wii however, had third-party support(low-end third-party on xbox and Ps2, but still third-party.) Due to how hard it was for those devs to transfer to the expensive 7th gen. Which hurt many companies, which is pretty much the only reason Wii had third-party support. The Wii U is a different story. On handhelds, like Gameboy, there were similar policies, and like before, companies stayed with Nintendo to be safe with the SNES a gameboy line, without thinking to much of transferring, leaving Sega to do most the Gamegear itself, although I am surprised by the Lynx's third-party, but the GB got the vast majority. So those two portables where pretty much for the most part pushed aside outdated tech and all, and the revisions kept selling as well to the point where when the GBA came out,, gameboy was pretty much a house hold name. It too till the PSP to even dent it, and third-parties jumped on the PSP as much as possible.
#3 Posted by Domino_slayer (763 posts) -

Basically.

When the Famicom came out in Japan the only real competition previously had been Pong machines, as the country's home gaming scene was behind the rest of the world (the arcade scene was huge though), Nintendo not only invested a ton of money in designing the Famicom, they actually staked their whole company on it, as the head of the company made a deal with some of the parts manufacturers to buy millions in advance as it was the only way to get the prices he wanted, they also came up with the plan that the console itself would be sold for little to no profit, as they believed they could make their money on the games.

At the same time the Famicom was released, Sega came up with the SG-1000, which was essentially a Colecovision machine. The gulf in power between the two machines was huge, and really showed how far the gamble + R&D + selling for around cost had put Nintendo ahead of the Japanese competition (in fact SG-1000 itself was actually still noticeably superior to machines coming out from other manufacturers for the next year in Japan, as may others were releasing Intellivision-level machines even a year later!)

At first Famicom was 1st party only, but in 1984 Nintendo allowed a select few 3rd party companies develop for it (Hudson, and Namco 1st I believe), a year later the Famicom was huge and all-encompasing in Japan, it basically had a monopoly there, Nintendo opened up to all 3rd parties so long as they agreed to a licensing contract, Nintendo ramped up their licensing prices, everything had to be console exclusive to Famicom for 2 years, all cartridges had to be made by them, cartridge orders had to exceed a certain amount, and everything had to be paid in advance (so basically Nintendo kind of forced the 3rd parties to take the risks and even if a game was a big failure they would make a killing from the cartridge orders), other than that there were some other rules, such as no religious elements, and no blood and gore, but these were mainly Nintendo of America stipulations and I don't think they affected Japan at all.

Another thing to take into account here is that Nintendo charged double for each cartridge they manufactured (on top of the licensing fee), this allowed them to fix the competition somewhat as their games would have double the amount of ROM than the 3rd party-made games, but for the same price. If the 3rd parties wanted to release games of a similar level they would have to take less profits, or increase the price of their releases to pay for the ROM.

In the late 80s the boss of Namco spoke out about Nintendo and said they were essentially committing unfair business practices, Nintendo basically replied that if Namco didn't like dealing with them then they should go elsewhere, Namco attempted to support the PC-Engine, and the Mega Drive, but Nintendo had a monopoly and Namco's company started nosediving as they were no longer supporting the biggest player in the home gaming scene. Namco asked to come back to making Famicom games and Nintendo's boss made Namco's boss make a public apology in regards to what he'd said about Nintendo.

This incident helped to tighten Nintendo's grip on the other Japanese 3rd party companies and made them wary of going against Nintendo.

New consoles had difficulty taking market share away from Nintendo as everything they received from 3rd parties would be 2 years out of date, 3rd parties could release new games on competing consoles but that would exclude said games from the huge Famicon market, which was a risk.

Obviously in the late 80s you guys in the US started buying NES' en-mass and that system had a virtual monopoly their too, and the US was where all the money was so it made supporting other consoles even more of a bad idea for 3rd parties.

During the 16-bit era things started to loosen up a bit due to the Genesis' US success, but in Japan Nintendo still had an iron grip with the Super Famicom, and a lot of the Japanese 3rd parties were still getting the majority of their business from Japan.