Here is an opinion piece at Polygon about what Nintendo should do (hint: go third party). It is worth a read because it illustrates how the Game Industry thinks of Nintendo and how it thinks of its alternate universe.
But facts are stubborn things and do not bend the way to our ‘dreams’.
Fact One: Watch Dogs is not the ‘biggest new performing IP’. That honor goes to Wii Sports which was exclusive to only one platform. One could also point to Super Mario Brothers or Pokemon which were also exclusive to one platform. For a non-Nintendo game, Minecraft is a perfect example which was exclusive to PC and then had an exclusive port to the Xbox 360. Monster Hunter was a new IP on the PSP. All this exclusiveness didn’t hurt sales at all. The author doesn’t mention these examples because they would be a nuclear bomb on his narrative.
Fact Two: Nintendo has been a Third Party Company. Nintendo has gone third party before. In the Second Generation, Nintendo was a Third Party Company. You could play Mario on the Atari or ColecoVision systems and even on the PCs of the time. Oh yes.
Above: Mario Brothers on the Commodore 128. For you youngsters, Commodore was a PC. Mario was also on the Apple II computer. Yes. Mario was available on an APPLE PRODUCT.
Above: Mario was available on the Atari 2600.
Above: Mario was on the Atari 7800 meaning that Mario was on MULTIPLE PLATFORMS during the Third Generation.
The last one is most interesting because Nintendo was a Third Party Developer during the Third Generation as well. You’ll never see THAT mentioned by the Game Industry. Ever.
Nintendo was a developer for several games for the Atari 7800 which existed side by side with the NES. Aside from Mario Brothers, there was also Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior. Atari was the publisher of the games however.
Did sales of Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, and Donkey Kong Junior increase because they were on multiple platforms? NO. Nothing could match the sales of EXCLUSIVE Nintendo games such as Super Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda.
Even worse for the ‘If Nintendo Goes Third Party, Their Sales Improve’ Game Industry Narrative is that Donkey Kong’s huge smash on the ColecoVision occurred because ColecoVision had EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS to Donkey Kong (at that time). People bought a ColecoVision in order to get to Donkey Kong.
There is HISTORICAL SALES DATA on a Third Party Nintendo and the results are entirely opposite than what the Game Industry is preaching.
We can also look at the sales for first party game companies that went third party. How did Hudson and Sega do when they went third party? Did their software sales INCREASE or DECREASE? They DECREASED big time!
The error with using Watch Dogs as an example is that Watch Dogs, as most Game Industry games these days, are not actually console games. They are actually PC games. Consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One are not actually consoles but lobotomized PCs. They all use similar PC architecture. So, in truth, Watch Dogs is a single platform game.
Nintendo games are not PC games. This is why they would never sell on the PC platform. I know. I have actually bought Nintendo games on the PC platform when Nintendo was a third party developer. I bet dollars to doughnuts that most people in the Game Industry never have bought a third party Nintendo game for PC. The reason why it doesn’t work is because when you move a game from the platform it was developed for, you get a crappy experience. Watch Dogs was always meant for the PC platform (which includes PS4, etc.). Console games have never translated well to the PC platform.
Watch Dogs should be ported to non-PC platforms like Wii U and smartphones and see how the sales go then. Hint: they wouldn’t be good.