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Forums - Nintendo Discussion - Among the big Japanese publishers, is Nintendo the least creatively risk-averse?

Last generation did a number on Japanese game companies. Rising costs of AAA game development, declining popularity of Japanese developed games in the west, and a seemingly endless stream of bad business decisions brought companies like Capcom, Square Enix, and Sega to their knees. But today, Major Japanese publishers have been making strides to keep up and improve, even being able to rival and beat western developers on multiple occasions in recent years. But in order to do so, most of them had to sacrifice one key asset, innovation. Capcom and Sega in particular have gone from two of the most eclectic and imaginative developers/publishers in the industry, to sterile sequel factories focusing almost entirely on a limited selection of cash-cow properties (Street Fighter and Monster Hunter for Capcom, and Sonic and Yakuza for Sega). They can still make great games, but gone are the days where you see wacky titles like Viewtiful Joe or Space Channel 5 on a regular basis.

But of all the major Japanese game publishers, Nintendo always seemed to be the most creatively consistent. Even their lowest creative point, the Wii U and 3DS era to me, is still way more innovative than modern Capcom or Sega. In fact, of the major Japanese publishers at the moment, I'd say Nintendo is by far the least risk-averse creatively speaking. While Capcom and Sega bank all their bets on the latest Yakuza or Monster Hunter, Nintendo is taking in ideas and concepts most major Japanese companies today wouldn't touch with a 10 ft. pole. In just two years, Nintendo introduced a third person Arena fighter about stretchy Armed freaks, a 2 player party game where you don't look at the screen, a British puzzle game about snipping paper, a game about binging obscene amounts of Sushi, and a series of Lego-like Interactive model kits made from Cardboard.

I think a large reason Nintendo is able to do things like these is because they're notoriously cost-conscious. Nintendo has been known, sometimes to a fault, for only spending as much as they need to spend to get the job done. Most of their games are made on modest budgets, and usually only need a relatively small number of sales to turn a profit. Nintendo is a company who doesn't really care what they do, so long as it made a profit. Their status as a platform holder also pushes them to try and get as much unique and original content onto their systems as possible to ensure stable sales and a regular flow of first party games.

Sure you can argue that Nintendo is more creatively conservative vs. smaller indie titles (which is true in a way), and you can argue that even they whore out their cash-cows like Mario, Pokemon and Splatoon, which is also true as well. But I'd say Nintendo doesn't exclusively rely on their mainstays the way Capcom and Sega do. Nintendo is in a position where they can afford to take insane creative risks. If it isn't a massive seller or even a successful game, no problem, it at least either made enough money or had the more profitable titles pick up the slack. Even some of their cash cows like Mario take creative risks on a regular basis.

TL;DR - Compared to Capcom, Sega, Square Enix, etc., Nintendo seems to be the least risk-averse creatively speaking in today's gaming market. They've put out sever weird ideas and concepts that would've never been greenlit by modern Capcom or Sega.

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Last 3 console are pretty risky

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Not just among Japanese publishers, among all publishers, period. Or would anybody else come up with things like Arms? Splatoon? LABO? All their nonstandard (aka More! Power!) consoles and handhelds?

Yes, and that's due to the fact that they can afford it since they rely on their cash cows simultaneously as well.

Nintendo is by faaaaar the largest, most successful japanese publisher (I'd exclude Sony, as the big majority of their games isn't developed in Japan) and has been for decades, so they are in a better position to fund more daring projects

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You kinda contradict yourself. If they put very little budget on their not well recognized franchises then they are being very conservative on avoid risk.

Certainly I can agree that Nintendo makes more varied titles than most if not all Japanese developers. Still Capcom and Sega aren't limited to the 2 IPs each you have put.

But yes, we can agree with the premisse you put on general terms.

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Nintendo have always been conservative but as a platform holder they want a variety of content. As for japenese publishers being risk adverse, you should look at Koei Tecmo, who's most risky move was copying an open world trend badly years too late. They almost always stick to their guns and don't go outside their comfort zone. Konami is another that other than past Metal Gear games they stick to lower cost yearly releases like PES. Your argument does work with Square Enix & Capcom but not really with Koei Tecmo or Bandai Namco who make majority of their money on lower cost projects.

DonFerrari said:
You kinda contradict yourself. If they put very little budget on their not well recognized franchises then they are being very conservative on avoid risk.

Certainly I can agree that Nintendo makes more varied titles than most if not all Japanese developers. Still Capcom and Sega aren't limited to the 2 IPs each you have put.

But yes, we can agree with the premisse you put on general terms.

Yeah but when you see Sega doesn't wanna fund Bayonetta 2 and rather pay for another shitty Sonic game that almost no one even want or care, you realize they aren't always good risk takers.


In fact, the Bayonetta case is a good point for the thread

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Nintendo take big risks creatively indeed.
Unfortunately for us, they tend to chase the Big Blue Ocean, if you see what I mean.

Besides, if Nintendo wasn't risk-averse, they'd collaborate with Square Enix on a new Paper Mario game.



Ninty has a very long tested strategy, its "safe" widely popular franchises, careful cost management, starting from the very choice of components that already reached commodity level on development and price, profit maximisation and wise financial investments whenever sales go well and loyal core fanbase, that BTW helps big franchises giving it a higher first and second party share on SW sales compared to other console makers, give it room to try more experiments than other gaming companies. And while experiments on new platforms can be risky, those on games and peripherals almost always aren't too expensive, even the most conceptually daring ones.

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