I haven't seen a lot of talk about Nintendo buying up SRD. I know it's no where near the headline grabber of Activision or Bungie, but it hasn't gotten a lot of reporting, even within the Nintendo sphere. Even here, I'd expect it to be a bigger topic. The thing is, I actually think, at least from Nintendo's perspective, this is pretty big news.
Nintendo's philosophy on buying companies has always been "why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?" Before Nintendo bought Next Level Games in 2021, the last major acquisition they made was Monolith Soft in 2007. SDR has been a support studio for four decades. There is little reason for Nintendo to even acquire them. But they did, and I think this may be indicative of a bigger change. More than any other time in the industry's history, there is an absolute ton of money floating around the industry. Companies of any size are prime for acquisition. If Microsoft can buy Activision (assuming the FTC doesn't step in), then anyone is fair game.
The same could be considered for NLG, especially when compared to Rare. Like Rare, NLG's owners wanted to sell off. In the case of Rare, Nintendo refused despite owning 49% of the company. Rare was responsible for numerous hits, had made several IPs, and was a big reason the N64 did as well as it did in North America. But Nintendo didn't want to take that plunge for the other 51%. About two decade latter, and when presented with a similar scenario, Nintendo buys up NLG. Now, NLG is a great developer, but they are no Rare. They're biggest hit has been Luigi's Mansion, but outside of that, they've been pretty typical (and even made a flop with Metroid Federation Force). I think back in 00s, Nintendo wasn't as worried about losing developers as they are now.
I think what we are seeing for Nintendo is a defensive position to protect their interest. With so much money going around, there is no guarantee that these developers will be available to work with Nintendo. More studios are putting up for sale signs in hope of a big payout. With Microsoft and Sony looking to buy up studios, Nintendo may not be able to keep these no strings attached relationships they like. SDR is evidence enough of that. Regardless of who made the first move (I expect the owner wanted to sell), it was clear Nintendo wasn't going to give it up
I expect over the next few years, we are going to see more Nintendo acquisitions than most people expect. However, most of these will be smaller studios that Nintendo can't afford to lose. The prime candidates would be Grezzo, Good Feel, Camelot, HAL and Intelligent Systems. However, I think there are two others big ones that will happen
Platinum - Platinum has been very coy. Initially, the company wanted to be independent, but in recent months have said they are open to a buyout. I expect part of this is due to self publishing being harder than they thought and likely a response to all the money in the market. Either way, I think Nintendo will likely buy them up. One thing Nintendo does target is developers who make games Nintendo can't. Nintendo invested in a lot of RPG companies, including former SquareSoft employees. Brownie Brown (now 1Up Studios) was one such developer. Platinum can make difficult and mature titles which is something Nintendo struggles with. Its a reason they stepped in to fund Bayonetta 2 and 3. I think that if Bayonetta 3 does well, then Nintendo will do through with a deal.
Creature/Game Freak - This one is a little different. The ownership of Pokemon is all kinds of fucked, with Nintendo, Creature and Game Freak each having a third. As a result, the Pokemon Company kind of does its own thing, for better or worse. While the console releases are always on Nintendo hardware, Pokemon has released numerous titles on mobile platforms, long before Nintendo did. The reason I think this will happen is that I don't think the relationship is as rosy as it seems. As time has gone on, Pokemon has almost become more distant, and with Sony putting their titles on Steam, I'm sure the Pokemon Company is thinking of how to do the same with Pokemon titles. Moreover, because these companies own Pokemon, there is nothing stopping Microsoft or Sony from buying up Creature and/or Game Freak to try and get the Pokemon games on their system. I expect Nintendo will try and consolidate the brand under their roof.
While there is always the possibility of something crazy, I think, in the near term at least, Nintendo will make some of these smaller acquisitions to ensure they don't lose them.
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