Bad times for the videogame industry might just be good times for Nintendo, as President Saturo Iwata says that reduced output from publishers could result in an even greater focus on the Wii and DS.
Iwata said in a recent conference call that tough economic times are forcing many publishers to cut back on the number of titles they're producing and releasing, and as a result their efforts have to be directed toward projects that have the greatest chance of being commercially successful.
"Nintendo was hopeful that we would make this new system the best selling hardware in the next generation," Iwata said. "Even so, If you ask me if we were able to foresee today's situation, I am not that optimistic so I have to admit that today's situation is exceeding even our original expectations."
"To the third party software manufacturers, the surprise must be bigger," he continued. "Some are reportedly saying that they bet on the wrong horse or that they need to change course. I recognize that each one of the third parties is trying to develop software that can be appealing on DS and Wii systems which have significantly increased the installed bases, while narrowing the overall number of software to develop."
Best-known among the publishers who "bet on the wrong horse" is Electronic Arts, which admitted back in mid-2008 that it "made the wrong call" by not focusing on Wii development. But in early February, EA CEO John Riccitiello signaled a major change in direction by announcing that "half [of EA's] emphasis in terms of title counts" would be going to Nintendo; THQ also recently revealed that it's Wii business has continued to show impressive growth despite massive overall losses suffered by the company, and that it would be increasing focus on casual - by which it's safe to assume he means Wii - development.
Nintendo has developed a reputation over the years for relying very heavily on first-party releases, but Iwata implied that a more enthusiastic embrace of third-party support may be in the offing. "Overall, we recognize that our relationships with the software manufacturers are shaping up better than before," he said. "So, in the mid-term, we believe that more attractive titles will be launched by them for our platforms."