Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 22, 2019

Star Wars is a scary lesson for Nintendo

I think everyone agrees that Nintendo’s biggest asset or property is not their hardware or even their software, it is their intellectual properties. This means Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, SR-388, and all the characters that come with them. With IPs, Nintendo can use them to make more than games. They can make amusement parks. They can make tons of money over toys and merchandise. Mario was designed to be like Mickey Mouse where he shows up in different genres. Nintendo is said to be like the Disney of video games.

Nintendo never seems to particularly care about other IPs outside of gaming. Not Star Trek. Not Dr. Who. But there is one they absolutely love. Iwata couldn’t stop mentioning it. Nintendo loves Star Wars.

Nintendo secured a Star Wars game for the Gamecube launch. During the Wii launch, Iwata couldn’t stop talking about the Wii-mote being like ‘light sabers’. Nintendo pressed hard for a Star Wars Wii game that would use the Wii-motes like light sabers.

Iwata, Miyamoto, and the rest are also at the right age to properly be amazed when Star Wars came out in the late 1970s (which also coincided with the rise of video games).

“Yeah, so Nintendo honchos loved Star Wars. What’s your point, Malstrom?” sniffs the reader.

Star Wars is a HUGE intellectual property.

“I cannot deny that.”

Of course you can’t, reader. But what is the state of that intellectual property today?

“Kids are not into Star Wars…”

The final movie of the Star Wars trilogy is set to release in a few months, right? Where is the hype? I think VII was seen as disappointing, and VIII as really disappointing. I think apathy has set in. While Episodes I-III may not have been what Star Wars fans wanted, kids, at least, enjoyed it. But I don’t think anyone is really into these new Star Wars movies.

Oh, and you know why Disney is making the decisions it is? George Lucas still has licensing rights where if they use original Star Wars characters and IP, Disney has to pay George Lucas a percentage. However, this doesn’t apply if the original IP is changed at least 25%.

Image result for cpo red arm

Above: Why does he have a red arm? To change the IP enough so Disney doesn’t have to pay George Lucas anything.

Image result for millennium falcon square radar

Above: Why is the millennial falcon having a square radar dish? So Disney doesn’t have to pay George Lucas anything.

Why is Disney killing off all the original Star Wars characters? So Disney doesn’t have to pay George Lucas anything.

To avoid going into the weeds of the legal rights issue, my point is that Star Wars brand is no longer as hot as it once was. In fact, it shows how rapidly fast a brand can fall. If Star Wars can fall, as an IP, then any IP can.

Nintendo should be scared to death of watching Star Wars slowly implode. If Star Wars can self-destruct, so can Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon, and all the rest of the Nintendo IPs.

If I was Nintendo, I’d also be observing Blizzard with alarm. Blizzard’s IPs are currently imploding. What is going on here?

Bad games, and bad content within those games, causes IP decline.

It would, indeed, be fascinating to chart the high points and low points of Nintendo IPs.

Donkey Kong-

High point was Donkey Kong. Went into decline ever since. Spin-off of Mario took spotlight. But IP was resurrected as ‘Donkey Kong Country’ which then went into slow decline.


Did good with Mario Brothers. Absolute breakout with Super Mario Brothers 1, 2, and 3. After Super Mario World, it declined. Low point was Super Mario Sunshine. It’s highest return has been 2d Mario and, perhaps, Mario Odyssey and Mario Maker 2. Other than that, Mario has never returned to its 1980s highs. Not even close!


Zelda did bangbusters with Zelda 1. in fact, Zelda was very consistent in its IP which even rose to its peak with Ocarina of Time. Then, Zelda entered consistent decline. Only with the release of Breath of the Wild has this IP returned.


Metroid used to be the  most consistent IP. While I would argue the GBA Metroids were a ‘decline’, some might disagree. Even the spin-offs were amusing such as Metroid Hunters (a quake like game) to Metroid Prime Pinball. Maybe those could be called a decline, but can obvious spin-off games be seen as decline? No, the big decline came with Sakamoto’s masterpiece:

Image result for metroid other m

Then you have Federation Force. I don’t think Sakamoto’s ‘Samus Returns’ did the IP any favors.

If Metroid Prime 4 doesn’t succeed, we might as well consider the Metroid IP completely dead.

No one seems to know how to make an IP become successful. However, we are finding out how to destroy an IP.

First, ignore the universe rules of that IP. (Example: Mario no longer has any memories of previous Mario games.)

Second, lecture the customer on social politics. (Example: Mario telling the player how he or she needs to start being ‘woke’.)

Third, insult the customers when they complain. (Example: Mario telling everyone that they are ‘stupid’.)

The IP would most certainly crumble and be close to being destroyed.

If Star Wars, Star Trek, and Dr. Who can go downhill so fast, then any IP is vulnerable. Even Nintendo IPs. Should Nintendo’s IPs collapse, then there will no longer be a Nintendo. This would certainly be the case if NOA was running Nintendo. Thankfully, the Japanese are more grounded about their IPs than Hollywood or Disney are.


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