Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2014-03-11 16:41:30
The Milk of Nintendo Kindness
Many a forum/comment section zealot likes to kick off about Nintendo 'milking' its franchises. I have seen people attack Nintendo with alarming frequency for releasing Mario and Zelda and Kirby games regularly. What's interesting is that these very same people often then seem to sing the praises of other franchises, such as Halo or Assassin's Creed, as if they're any different. When you think about it, they're actually a lot worse for franchise-milking than Nintendo.
Take Assassin's Creed. I rarely stumble upon people accusing Ubisoft of franchise-milking the series. And yet, on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 alone, they released Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Assassin's Creed Revelations, Assassin's Creed III and Assassin's Creed IV between 2007-2013 - six games in six/seven years, and that's excluding DLC. The same 'annualization' of video games could be applied to Call of Duty as well.
With Halo, Microsoft's core first-party title, in the same generation players received Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo ODST, Halo Reach, Halo Anniversary and a variety of spin-offs. Similarly, in a single generation players received Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3 and Gears of War Judgment. Sony didn't escape, either - in a single generation players received the Uncharted trilogy.
Then you look at Nintendo - fair enough that they have been releasing Mario and Zelda titles for a good many years, but look at the distance between them. The last console Mario Kart game, for example, was in 2008 - Mario Kart Wii. The next title is coming out this year, in 2014 - that's a good six years between releases; and, even if you factor in Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS, there has still been a 3 year gap between games. In the time it took between the last console Mario Kart game and the next one, Assassin's Creed had come out with almost six different console titles.
So, what exactly am I arguing here?
Well, I'd like to point out, first of all, that anyone who gets iffy about Nintendo releasing games in the same franchise every few years needs to honestly look at other systems and see that they're doing the exact same thing - and often with far more regularity than Nintendo. Nintendo appears to be milking their franchises more because they are older and more durable - no franchise has successfully survived as well as Mario, and because of its age it seems natural to think that there have been a lot of them.
But, if you take a step back and look at things objectively, while there have been a lot of Mario titles - and the titular plumber finds himself in a huge variety of games, from Olympic sporting titles to racing titles to golf titles etc. - the core games that Nintendo release tend to have a good few years between them. It was a fair while between Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Mario 3D World on home consoles, for example - far longer than the gap many developers on other systems, both first and third party, make a habit of leaving.
I know it's popular to hate on Nintendo - yes, their franchises are old, and yes, they do release a lot of games; but, to put it in one final objective perspective:
Between 1992 and 2013, a gap of 20 years, there have been 8 Mario Kart games.
In about a third of this time there have been 6 Assassin's Creed games; and in about half there have been 7 Halo games. So, while I'd like to sympathise with gamers complaining about Nintendo, I'm going to have to take the Big N's side - if they're milking the gaming udder, many other developers are suckling on it far harder.