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MichaelAWolfe

*hypothetical* If Nintendo had to sell...

10 posts in this topic

I've been a huge Nintendo fan since I was a kid. I’m also not much for understanding how the business industry works, but my friend Nate and I were having this conversation at work about who Nintendo would sell too if they had to. My thought is Nintendo would sell to PlayStation since they are old competitors. Nate believes they would sell to Microsoft because they offer that “whole system experience”…apparently (I don’t agree). Anywho so I was curious what others think? If Nintendo had to stop making home consoles what do you think they would do with their mascots (Mario, Zelda, etc.)?

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Do what Atari and Sega did ... license their property to other companies ... continue to develop games.

 

Edit: according to corporate filings, the company has over $7 billion USD in cash reserves.

Edited by Shippou
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Do what Atari and Sega did ... license their property to other companies ... continue to develop games.

 

Edit: according to corporate filings, the company has over $7 billion USD in cash reserves.

 

honestly I never thought about that. I would think Nintendo would take their plummer to the grave with them before licensing him out but the world is a business I assume. 

7 billion huh, I wonder what all the fuss is then. I understand a loss in business but with that kind of money they could lose out for a couple of years and still be wonderful. 

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Nintendo aren't going anywhere, even if their games aren't doing great at the moment. People seem to forget Nintendo have been around for over 100 years. They still manufacture cards amongst other non-video game products, and have majority ownership of one or more large sports teams.

 

Nintendo used to run taxi services, hotels, and have dabbled in steel. It's a company that has historically always adapted.

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Why wouldn't they sell to both?

Sega sold to all three other companies - Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft when they entered the business with the Xbox, so why wouldn't Nintendo sell to both companies?

I imagine all they're going to do for the moment is finish all games in development with the Wii-U, and start working on another console (if they're not already), or just put all their focus into the handheld market.  The 3DS is a big success, so if they developed a crap-ton of exclusives for it and really put their all into it, imagine what they could do.

They won't sell to another company.  I think if they continue to fail on the home-console business side, they maybe should consider it, but for now, they shouldn't.

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Well if the Fusion DS is true, then Nintendo might be selling themselves off for awhile. Unless that becomes a total bluster.
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I think at worst we might see Nintendo go the way of the Dodo in the livingroom, but their handheld position is still strong, even dispute smartphones and solid competition from Sony. I doubt even that will happen anytime soon, but I think its kind of a crapshoot as to what would happen if they stopped trying to be king of the livingroom. One of a few scenarios are plausible, in most-to-least-likely order, as I see it:

 

  1. They content themselves in the handheld space, focusing and redoubling their efforts there.
  2. They start making games for the living-room experience for the Sony or Microsoft platforms, or both (as Sega has done).
  3. They create a new kind of console not like the rumored high-end Fusion, but which is something like a VitaTV on steroids -- That is, it could be fully architecturally compatible with their then-current handheld, but with scaled-up GPU power, framebuffer capacity, and framebuffer bandwidth to allow the same game to be played either the handheld or on the home console with increased fidelity to take advantage of a large, high-res screen, and without care for additional power or cooling needs.

I think they've got one more 'traditional' home console in them before they might be ready to throw in the towel on the living room though.

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I see two factors. The first is that while Nintendo manufactures game consoles, the consoles it makes are fundamentally different from the consoles Sony and Microsoft make. The second is that Nintendo has a fundamentally different financial model than either Sony or Microsoft, which makes the direct comparisons inappropriate.


First, the market.

Nintendo has always had a masterful understanding of video games as toys. The products that drive sales and the brands behind them are rich and complex, but feel like toys.

For me, when I pick up an xbox or playstation controller it is usually for expecting lifelike graphics, competition, deep immersion, and other components that overall have a tense or compressed or aggressive feel to them. A few games don't, but overall there is a sort of tension involved.

Picking up a Wii remote or a DS or 3DS is more like picking up colorful blocks or a box of crayons or scissors and construction paper, overall the successful Nintendo products have a feeling of childlike play and creativity. The games that have mind-boggling sales numbers behind them are usually superficially cute and sweet and playful, but also with an impressive amount of depth. Nintendo is masterful at this, even when building more intense games like the latest rounds of Zelda, the feeling is still more of a wonderful world to explore with lots of puzzles and mysteries inside it.


Next, the financial models.

Just like last time, the PS4 and XBOne were sold at a loss initially but Nintendo makes a profit on every Wii U sold. Various groups have estimated the manufacturing costs but the exact numbers are still secrets. Even though PS4 and XBOne unit sales are high both Sony and Microsoft lose money on every one with the hope of recovering it on the long tail. There were huge announcements that both of them beat the Wii U's lifetime sales in just a few weeks. I think this is BAD news for Microsoft and Sony. The roughly 4M units each they sold sounds nice as headlines, but with every one being sold at a loss it doesn't help short-term financials. They are taking a bet that they can recover the money through licensing costs and future sales. They will likely recover the costs eventually, but the opportunity cost is significant.

With Wii U making around $90 profit per sale, the profit numbers for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo on hardware are: $-360M in three months, $-40M in three months, and $270M in 14 months, respectively. Nintendo may have the fewest sales but they're the only one seeing profit.

The Wii U has had some difficulties with low volume, but their sales numbers as trend lines are good. It will take them longer than they wanted to recover the expense of developing the console but I'm certain they will do that eventually. The PS4 and XBOne trend lines look like a summer blockbuster or a sprint racer; they had a six-week quick spike right up until Christmas followed by a (relative) flatline. Even though the height of their trend lines are lower, Nintendo's sales over 14 months look more like a long-favorite Disney movie or a marathon runner with a steady trend of ups and downs. With the slate of upcoming releases (Mario Kart 8, Smash Bros, Donkey Kong Country, Hyrule Warriors, etc) I think their long-term strategy continues to be wise.

During the last generation of consoles some reports suggest Nintendo took home more money than both Sony and Microsoft combined. Many hardcore gamers and industry hardliners couldn't understand it and even now continue to believe Nintendo lost that round in spite of the money in the bank. Nintendo is in a fantastic place from the last generation. The current generation may not be as profitable as hoped in the short term, but in the long term it is clear their bank account is going to continue growing. Right now of the big three it is the only bank account trending upward.



Their corporate philosophies have a very long future. There will always be a market for creative toys. The consoles have been a tortoise-and-hare race for over two decades, and Nintendo has proven that they are quite skilled as a tortoise. They may not be first place by everyone's metrics, but they are very consistent at getting money in the bank.

Right now they have a considerable warchest of assets. They could halt all sales but continue for over twenty years from selling liquid assets and investments, and another twenty or so years by selling other assets.



If they were forced to sell out, right now today, I cannot imagine anyone who could afford to buy them. Open up various game company stock tickers on Google finance. Nintendo could afford to buy Electronic Arts with cash on hand. They could afford to buy Ubisoft and Konami with cash on hand with a lot left over. Nintendo's stock has a market cap of just under $18B, so buying the company outright would be a $20B deal at a minimum. Few companies have that kind of resources at their disposal, and the ones that do are unlikely to want Nintendo.

If some company was forced to buy them today, according to Forbes only five tech companies have the liquid resources to do it: Apple (with $76B liquid), Microsoft ($63B), Cisco ($39B), Google ($35B), and Oracle ($29B). Number 6 on the list could afford to buy a majority share as a takeover, but not a full purchase. From those five, Microsoft would be blocked from antitrust concerns, so they're out of the running. For the remaining companies, only Apple and Google would be a reasonable fit for them. Of the two, I would think Google is the more likely contender. Edited by frob
More notes on why only five tech companies could even afford to buy Nintendo.
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I saw an article the other day that stated that Nintendo will be making games for IOS now. I thought about this thread when I saw it on Flipboard.

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Despite the doom and gloom in the media, Nintendo's not doing bad, they're just not doing fantastically, amazingly, incredible. There is still the possibility Nintendo turns around the WiiU disaster by a few very big hits, and then the WiiU would become a decent success even if not the runaway success they were hoping for.

 

I frequently see in the news, "With the failure of Nintendo's WiiU and 3DS consoles...", which is false. The 3DS is doing very well! Perhaps not as astoundingly well as Nintendo hoped, but the 3DS is doing very well. The WiiU is doing poorly, but can still be turned around.

 

The media's problem with Nintendo is that Nintendo set Nintendo's own bar of success too high in the recent past. Nintendo kicked everyone's butt last generation, and kicked it so thoroughly that even Nintendo was caught off guard by how successful Nintendo was.

 

But in answer to your hypothetical question: if Nintendo had to sell, Disney should buy them (their focuses and strengths are so similar).

Before it comes to that, though, I'd rather Nintendo just cut a deal with other companies. Get Microsoft and Sony in a bidding war against each other for who gets exclusive Nintendo games this generation, while Nintendo plans better for next generation.

 

Still, as long as the WiiU is profitable, which it will be (just not amazingly so), then I think Nintendo will weather it and be satisfied with the result. The 3DS is already a big success.

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