Forums - Nintendo Discussion - Why does Nintendo let developers co-own their IP?

Cerebralbore101 said:
TheMisterManGuy said:

IS is technically independent from Nintendo actually. They aren't listed as a subsidiary on the company's press sites. If you want a more recent example, Astral Chain. The copyright notice is "©2019 Nintendo/Platinum Games, Inc."

Platinum Games owns the Astral Chain IP. Nintendo just publishes it. So it is not a co-owned IP. The copyright goes to both of them because Nintendo is the publisher. It is not the same as Nintendo owning the IP. 

If Nintendo's name is in the copyright notice alongside Platinum's, then Nintendo owns half the IP. Meaning they have a say on what they can do with it. Astral Chain is owned by both Platinum and Nintendo.



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TheMisterManGuy said:
Cerebralbore101 said:

Platinum Games owns the Astral Chain IP. Nintendo just publishes it. So it is not a co-owned IP. The copyright goes to both of them because Nintendo is the publisher. It is not the same as Nintendo owning the IP. 

If Nintendo's name is in the copyright notice alongside Platinum's, then Nintendo owns half the IP. Meaning they have a say on what they can do with it. Astral Chain is owned by both Platinum and Nintendo.

It doesn't mean that Platinum can't put Astral Chain 2 or something similar on another console,quite often they are game specific and used to safeguard the publishers investment in an IP they don't own.



TheMisterManGuy said:
Cerebralbore101 said:

Platinum Games owns the Astral Chain IP. Nintendo just publishes it. So it is not a co-owned IP. The copyright goes to both of them because Nintendo is the publisher. It is not the same as Nintendo owning the IP. 

If Nintendo's name is in the copyright notice alongside Platinum's, then Nintendo owns half the IP. Meaning they have a say on what they can do with it. Astral Chain is owned by both Platinum and Nintendo.

You are not wholly incorrect in your assumption as that is more often than not the actual case.  But IP ownership isn't as simple as a copyright. It can be timed, it can be name only, it can be for marketing/production/distribution purposes, etc...

We would have to ask either party how ownership is set up. The specifics would be in the contracts.



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TheMisterManGuy said:
Cerebralbore101 said:

Platinum Games owns the Astral Chain IP. Nintendo just publishes it. So it is not a co-owned IP. The copyright goes to both of them because Nintendo is the publisher. It is not the same as Nintendo owning the IP. 

If Nintendo's name is in the copyright notice alongside Platinum's, then Nintendo owns half the IP. Meaning they have a say on what they can do with it. Astral Chain is owned by both Platinum and Nintendo.

Yeah, it means Nintendo has the publishing rights. As in, they can decide where the game comes out, where and when it gets released. But that doesn't mean they own the IP.

Last edited by Bofferbrauer2 - on 02 August 2019

mjk45 said:

It doesn't mean that Platinum can't put Astral Chain 2 or something similar on another console,quite often they are game specific and used to safeguard the publishers investment in an IP they don't own.

It does. Platinum can't do anything regarding the Astral Chain IP unless Nintendo Signs-Off on it. Similar to how Platinum couldn't port their Sega published games to PC, unless Sega okays it

SpokenTruth said:

You are not wholly incorrect in your assumption as that is more often than not the actual case.  But IP ownership isn't as simple as a copyright. It can be timed, it can be name only, it can be for marketing/production/distribution purposes, etc...

We would have to ask either party how ownership is set up. The specifics would be in the contracts.

True, we're not exactly sure how the rights to Astral Chain is split up between Nintendo and Platinum. For all we know, Platinum could own the game's code, but the rights to the story, characters and music could all belong to Nintendo.

Bofferbrauer2 said:

Yeah, it means Nintendo has the publishing rights. As in, they can decide where the game comes out, where and when it gets released. But that doesn't mean they own the IP.

If your name is in the copyright notice, you own some of that work. As mentioned above, it's not as simple as this party owns this, and this owns that. You'd have to ask Nintendo and Platinum how ownership of the IP is split up. 



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Alright, now you've done a bit of work to backup your claim. However, you said, "Nintendo's really the only major publisher who let's most of their studios keep partial ownership of the IP." That would mean you've analyzed a large number of games by all the publishers, at least enough to come to a conclusion. I'd like to see the side-by-side comparisons, if you don't mind.

Regardless, what I don't really understand is the idea that co-owning an IP means Nintendo "trusts" developers more.  That doesn't make any sense.  That still means Nintendo controls the fate of that IP.  Nothing can be done without their permission.  Why does that imply trust?  Wouldn't "trust" be funding a project while letting the developer retain full ownership of the IP?

For example, I believe Fuse is owned by Insomniac--wouldn't that make EA more "trusting" than Nintendo?  Sunset Overdrive is also owned by Insomniac--doesn't that make Microsoft more trusting?  Off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure Titanfall was owned by its developers before they sold out to EA.  Not that it really matters, as the contract is the important part.

Actually, if you want to talk about trusting, wouldn't Activision win?  Destiny is solely in the hands of Bungie now that their partnership is over.  

I've got to be honest, here.  Taking partial ownership of an IP seems less trusting to me than some of what we've seen elsewhere.  



It’s false to say that Nintendo is the only company that has cooperative ownership of games, this seems to be common practice.

It depends on the copyright laws. Keep in mind, trademarks and copyrights are different things.

For example, some company called “Natsume” owned the trademark for Harvest Moon, but the copyrights are owned by Marvelous, so Marvelous is able to release old Harvest Moon games under the name “Story of Seasons” through their own localization firm XSeed. But Natsume has no rights to the game, even though they own its name.

But copyrights for videogames are a little more complex since there are multiple elements with different rules, and they are not necessarily seen as one entity. There’s music, art, code, and written story.

Additionally, laws across international borders (especially those not in the TPP) have some major hurdles if they are developed between multiple countries. GE007 is basically impossible to port due to many companies holding a stake in the game and having differing agendas.

There’s also the matter of old laws applying to certain properties. So even if things are updated, that doesn’t retroactively apply. Additionally, contracts of ownership may apply. Perhaps companies (such as Nintendo) maintains an old custom due to tradition.


I am not sure all the rules for Japan (or any, really), but I’d say that’s probably the reason why Japanese companies co-own copyrights for videogames.

Last edited by Jumpin - on 02 August 2019

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Actually, I'm pretty sure the OP is right when he says that Astral Chain is at least a partially owned Nintendo IP. Nintendo released a schedule of first party releases that included Astral Chain. And since first party titles are really decided by IP ownership and not the development studio (hence Yoshi's Crafted World, Mario Tennis Aces and the like being first party), it makes sense to believe Nintendo do at least own some of the Astral Chain IP. This is similar to The Wonderful 101 being Nintendo owned. 

Notice how Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 isn't included, even though it is a published exclusive.

Last edited by AngryLittleAlchemist - on 02 August 2019

Astral Chain is in the same situation as The Wonderful 101. The IP is co-owned by Platinum and Nintendo. Platinum can't do anything with the IP if Nintendo doesn't want and viceversa.



AngryLittleAlchemist said:

Actually, I'm pretty sure the OP is right when he says that Astral Chain is at least a partially owned Nintendo IP. Nintendo released a schedule of first party releases that included Astral Chain. And since first party titles are really decided by IP ownership and not the development studio (hence Yoshi's Crafted World, Mario Tennis Aces and the like being first party), it makes sense to believe Nintendo do at least own some of the Astral Chain IP. This is similar to The Wonderful 101 being Nintendo owned. 

Notice how Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 isn't included, even though it is a published exclusive.

Technically those would be second party games. Games developed by Nintendo owned studios are first party since the are directly from the platform seller. Second party are where Nintendo is the purchaser of the services of a third party in order to develop a game, and this applies to exclusive dev houses partially owned or contractually bound to Nintendo despite not being owned directly by Nintendo. While third party games are supplied by an independent studio without the first party purchaser/contracting relationship.

Pokémon and the DKC trilogy are perfect examples of second party games. Super Mario Galaxy or Breath of the Wild as first part games. Final Fantasy 7 Remaster as a third party game.



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