The case for Apple to buy Nintendo

This case has been made before, but this article does a good job of analyzing all the moving pieces.

In my view, access to the Nintendo game catalog on iOS would strike a major blow to Samsung. Having Pokemon, Mario, Zelda, and their many friends exclusively tied to iOS would likely provide the most significant point of software differentiation between the two rivals.

Why an acquisition though as opposed to an exclusive deal? Well, I imagine Apple (or Google or Samsung) would certainly be willing to pay a vast sum for exclusive smartphone rights to the Nintendo catalog. The problem is that as long as Nintendo is unwilling to give up on their own hardware business, they will likely refuse to risk cannibalizing their own sales. Maybe management (perhaps activist shareholder driven) will one day consider that software only business model is right for Nintendo, but until then an acquisition may be the only way for Apple to lock down Mario.

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  • Odi Kosmatos

    My family loves (parents and kids) our iPads and iPhones, and probably just as much, our Wii U console that exclusively runs Nintendo’s own games. Nintendo and Apple know how to delight users. Nintendo knows how to make great games, but their hardware (in daddy’s opinion) stinks. These two companies would be a beautiful match. That said, Nintendo, 100 years old, has seen upstarts like Apple come and go.

  • I’m sorry but there just isn’t a good reason for Apple to buy Nintendo. It’s a silly fantasy that people need to give up on. I love both companies for very similar reasons, but they just don’t go together in that way. Apple isn’t in the business of making games, and thats not something I ever see them wanting to get into, and Nintendo fans like myself aren’t going to buy dumbed-down versions of Zelda on their iPhones.

    • Oh, I think Nintendo fans like yourself would certainly buy ios versions of your favorite franchises. Without a doubt.

      • Maybe in a perfect world if Nintendo made a controller attachment with physical buttons thats at least up to snuff with the 3DS buttons maybe I’d consider it, as long as the games are of the same quality as what they’ve already been releasing.

        The problem is there is no way Nintendo can make the same quality of games and turn any amount of profit. Nobody is going to buy $20-$30 games for their iPhone, and there is no way Nintendo could sell a new Zelda for iOS at $1.99 a pop and make enough to cover the development costs. There’s the free-to-play option but the last thing I want is a “pay to get more lives” system in a new Super Mario game.

        The only way Nintendo could hope to make a profit on iOS, even if we’re in some bizzaro-world where Apple buys them, is to make cheap quick games and sell them in the 99¢ to $9.99 range. As a gamer, a cheapened experience is not what I want.

        People get all hung up on the retina screen and superior CPU of iOS devices compared to the 3DS and think these will automatically make iOS the better gaming platform. The fact is some games work better as inexpensive experiences on iOS, and others (like Nintendo’s) work better as more traditionally priced experiences on a platform built for gaming. I’m not going to play Angry Birds (which I do enjoy) on my 3DS, and I’m not going to play The Legend of Zelda on my iPhone.

  • Alexei Baboulevitch

    It might be good for Apple, but ugh, it would be so bad for gaming. Mario or Zelda with virtual buttons? It would completely sap those games of life. No thanks.

    (Maybe if Apple or Nintendo released a definitive iOS gamepad that’s actually good and doesn’t cost a hundred bucks, but I don’t see that happening.)

    • Virtual buttons were only the beginning — API for hardware controllers is out. There are several for under a hundred bucks. Once they achieve the economies of scale we enjoy from sony and whatnot, we’ll see cheaper prices. That’s how it always works. always.

  • If Apple do this, they probably would kill the indie game developer community on iOS completely. E.g.: why should I buy Oceanhorn if I can play the original Zelda? Most would only buy one of them, and it’s obvious which it would be!

    • Diddy

      You have a point – developers would feel a lot more threatened by Apple suddenly becoming a major game studio – one with games that already have a ton of momentum behind them. Most studios might figure that their market is much more limited.

      But my question is, what would happen to Nintendo’s hardware platform? Would Apple continue in a market they have no experience in and operates totally differently.? Or would they just kill it in favor of their own platforms? That wouldn’t be good for console gaming since now we have less competition.

      There is also the problem as pointed out, that most of Nintendo’s games are not touch bases which means either Apple would have to develop that ability (and spend money on a risk) or develop another accessory that people would need to buy and would have to be universal with all of the consoles in mind.

      And Nintendo is not about to partner with anybody to sell their titles. AAA titles on other platforms is out of the question so long as Nintendo has their own platform and that applies to older games (as dysfuntional as Nintendo is) they won’t bother.

  • JohnDoey

    The biggest software differentiator would still be iTunes and then the iLife apps. Nintendo gaming is much smaller.

    • Diddy

      Why would Nintendo care about iTunes or iLife? And Nintendo is a big studio, it isn’t small by any stretch of the imagination.

  • blaargh

    This is totally ignoring the fact that Apple never does anything to “block the competition”. I’d love to see Nintendo on iPhone, but if Apple buys them, it should set off investor alarm bells.

  • Moeskido

    I’d like to know how different from his predecessor Tim Cook’s feelings are about gaming.

  • Ken

    I just bought a WII U and I agree Apple would make a better interface. Even with its problems I rather by the Nintendo over Playstation and Xbox just for the fact the most of the games are different than first person shooters. How many Battlefield or Halo games can we have? I think Nintendo could do a much better job marketing. It has a lot of great features such as the WII TV. Personally I don’t want to yell at my TV to turn a channel. The other thing they could do is make their pro-controller the main one they sell with the console and their pad as extra accessory since most game makers are not going to use the function well.