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If there's one thing Nintendo is known for, it's their games. With an army of beloved characters and properties at their disposal, and a powerhouse software R&D division, Nintendo can single handedly sell consoles on the sheer strength of their first party productions alone. But with the Switch, It may just be me, but the Entertainment Planning & Development Division seems to have taken a few cues and strategies from the software arms of other Platform holders. Specifically SIE Worldwide Studios, and Xbox Game Studios. Now, Nintendo is still Nintendo. They're still the tinkering Apple-like toy maker we know them to be with products like Nintendo Labo and Ring Fit Adventure. But Nintendo has seemed to have paid attention to what Sony and Microsoft get right with their first party content strategy, and applied some of those lessons in their own Nintendo-like fashion.

Chief among them is encouraging more creative autonomy within their teams. Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa, and Head of EPD Shinya Takahashi have both openly stated that Nintendo's Production Groups should have the freedom to peruse new ideas and concepts however they want, and not constantly be told what to make and how to make it. This is the strategy Sony has embraced for years with Worldwide Studios, and what Microsoft is focusing on with Xbox Game Studios. Letting the teams make what they want, how they want, and support their vision by working with marketing, sales, and focus groups to deliver games that not only sell, but ones that the developers can also call their own. Nintendo's been moving towards the same direction for a while, resulting in what could be the most varied software lineup the company has put out. From tried-and-true Nintendo classics like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, to newer faces like Splatoon, ARMS, and Ring Fit Adventure. To collaborations with independent developers in the west like with Snipperclips and The Stretchers. In the past, Nintendo's primary Software Division, EAD was dictated almost solely by whatever creative mood Shigeru Miyamoto was in at the time.

Another key change, is Nintendo's willingness to encourage "darker" games, and in general, including darker elements in many of their games. Sony and Microsoft have always defined themselves by offering more "Adult" titles to distinguish themselves from Nintendo's largely family-friendly roster. Nintendo's dabbled in this area several times before, but with the Switch, it seems to be a vital part of their first party strategy for the console, and not just experiments, or token titles. You have games like Astral Chain, where Nintendo went as far as to toss out the original fantasy pitch, and encourage Platinum to try something darker and more original, hence the dystopian sci-fi setting. Bayonetta 3, which even after the underperfomance of Bayonetta 2, still got a huge reveal and is a game Nintendo seems to have a lot of faith in. Famicom Detective Club, an IP that NOBODY expected Nintendo to revisit, is getting full on remakes of the two games from Mages. Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion, which contains a darker tone and story, rarely seen in an in-house Nintendo game. And the triumphant return of Metroid with the big reveal of Metroid Prime 4, where they even went as far as to publicly admit that the original build wasn't very good, and will be rebooted with Retro Studios taking over development. While all-ages content still makes up most of Nintendo's annual roster, there seems to be a more confident attitude in promoting darker, more edgy elements.

Lastly, there's production values and budget. Sony and Microsoft studios often go all out on R&D budget for various games, which result in massive worlds, and impressive technical feats. Nintendo was always and in some ways, still is, more conservative with game budgets. Sometimes, to the point of only including the bare minimum, for better or worse, to cut costs, believing that quality gameplay wins over graphics and set-pieces. The Wii U was where it got really bad, as Nintendo didn't know how to handle the change of HD development. But with the Switch, while Nintendo still isn't interested in reaching Naughty Dog level budgets, they appear more willing to splurge a bit more on the budget of several titles to help reach their full potential. Of course, there's Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey, filled with ambitious concepts and technology that's impressive, even on the under-powered Switch hardware. Even games like Ring Fit Adventure, are generally receiving more money and marketing put into them than they would've gotten on the Wii U or 3DS.

In terms of software, Nintendo, their games, and their unique ways of making them haven't changed. But, the overall marketing, production, and content strategy these days is much more in-line with Sony and Microsoft's than it was back in the Wii U days.

Last edited by TheMisterManGuy - on 02 January 2020