Apple to buy Nintendo? Yeah, right!

Matt Barton's picture

Bandai Pippin: The "WTH" Gaming Rig Bandai Pippin: The "WTH" Gaming Rig
There's some speculation on Cravetalk that Apple is contemplating buying out Nintendo. Preposterous? Perhaps. Everyone who knows something about Nintendo's corporate history knows how many times others (including Microsoft ) have tried this same manuever--and failed miserably. Nintendo has always struck me as a living anachronism--imperial samarai lords thriving in the modern era. The main reason why I think Nintendo made it big in the first place was their unflinching and bold resolve to bring back console gaming to the US, despite all the flack about the "death of the videogames industry" that followed in the wake of the Great Videogame Crash of 1983. A cozy war with Sega followed, but once Sony and then Microsoft entered the fray, Nintendo's been steadily losing market share.

So, why should Apple be interested in buying Nintendo? The article above tells the story of the Bandai Pippin, a hopelessly obscure console that flopped so badly most people haven't even heard of it. However, Apple has since learned to almost sadistically exploit a very profitable niche of computerized electronics--the iPod and now the Mac Mini. Seriously, who could have predicted how successful Apple would be with the iPod? I still don't understand it. However, one thing Apple has never been good at (well, at least not since the Apple II), is attract the best game developers to its platform. The big games come out either for one of the consoles or the Windows platform, and the Apple port comes out almost as an after-thought. All the talk about Apple's Bootcamp dual-boot system just seems like pie in the sky to me...For the love of all things holy, who would want to run Windows on a Macintosh? Is regedit really that attractive of a program?

I'm being deliberately facetious here. We know the answer: Because what few big games are actually ported to the Mac are years too late. An example: the Mac port of Civilization IV is slated for release this month, though it's been available on the Windows platform since last October. Hell, by the time Apple diehards finally get to the game, their Windows buddies are pre-ordering expansion packs. Tell me how many of these great new PC games for 2007 won't be available for Apple until 2008?

Why is the state of Apple gaming so behind the times? The biggest problem is a catch-22 regarding developers. Game developers are trying to sell the most product possible. Therefore, they develop for the biggest, best-established platform that will give them access to the most 30-year old males with disposable income. Now, Mac users are loaded with cash (after all, Macs are expensive!), but they're most likely to be those types of people who are too interested in fashion and style to be caught dead playing a computer game. A Macintosh computer is a fashion statement, not a gaming platform. Windows is to Wal-Mart what Apple is to Nordstrom's. Two distinct, incompatible audiences that would like to pretend the other doesn't exist.

In short, to get the biggest market share you need the best developers, but to get the best developers you need the biggest market share. And so it goes.

Bringing in Nintendo could help change this. It's be a match made in heaven (or hell, depending on how you look at it). Both Apple and Nintendo have devolved into niche companies, each relying on innovation, gimmicks, and the whims of the intelligentsia to keep them going in a situation where they've both massively outgunned by the Big Boys. Furthermore, they both cling to a proprietary philosophy in terms of both software and hardware. A Mac that could run Nintendo games--that opens up some possibilities. My thoughts are a move like that could do wonders for both companies...But it's about as likely to happen as Sony giving up DRM.

Link via Slashdot.