Nintendo won't make games for Apple, so what about game controllers?

Nintendo won't make games for Apple, so what about game controllers?

A while ago - I forget now if it was on Debug or Vector and I'm traveling at the moment so I can't check - the remarkably clever Guy English said he'd like to see Nintendo stay in the hardware game... by making controllers for third-party platforms like iOS. It was an almost Grant Morrison-style bit of tangential brilliance, offered as an aside and quickly consumed by the rest of his narrative, but it immediately came back to mind when I read Nintendo president Satoru Iwata comments to CVG:

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has given the most definitive indication yet that the platform holder will not develop for rival systems, stating that it would only be a strategy he'd employ if he did not care about the company.

Which is understandable. Expecting Nintendo to make Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, or any of their other signature franchises available on iOS is like expecting Apple to make OS X available for HP or Lenovo. Nintendo, like Apple, isn't a software company or a hardware company, they're a product company, and delivering the best product means carefully controlling both hardware and software (and now, services as well.)

But what if there was a middle ground? As part of iOS 7, Apple announced support for game controllers. Nintendo, from the original NES to the Game Cube has made some of the most iconic in the business. What if Nintendo, as Guy suggested, made hardware game controllers for iOS that came tied to their amazing library of game titles? What if iOS devices could become to Nintendo the same simple screens TVs become to iOS devices thanks to AirPlay? What if Nintendo could still own and control the most intimate part of the gaming experience - what all of us hold in our hands, and what we see with our eyes - and still gain access to Apple's massive user base?

I have no expectation that this will ever happen, for the same reason I don't expect Apple to make hardware for their rivals, not matter the scale, but I'd love it to. What about you?

(You can read more of Guy's remarkably clever stuff at Kickingbear.)

Source: CVG via Daring Fireball

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Nintendo won't make games for Apple, so what about game controllers?


If you for one second thought Nintendo were going to make games for other platforms, you know nothing about Nintendo.

Rene, you mentioned the Gamecube controller being iconic. That might be the WORST example of a Nintendo product ever. The button layout is a nightmare. I wouldn't mind a Nintendo branded controller but that is a shining example of everything wrong with Nintendo. Quirky and offbeat but not really functional.

The wii remote is great though and as many already know, it sees a lot of use on iOS devices. It LOOKS like an Apple controller should. Its sleek, light, visually appealing, minimalist (compared to many controllers) and works well.

I feel like people would expect Mario and Zelda games if Nintendo were to do ANYTHING with Apple ever so I would say unless their hardware division goes belly-up in the next 2 years that this is probably never going to happen.

To each, their own, I guess. I think the GameCube Controller is the best controller ever. The button layout is a lot better than XBox, or PS controllers. The vertically higher X and Y buttons are provides an effective organic pattern and makes it easy for "rolling" your thumb from the A button on to X or Y and back again. Sony and Xbox have diamond patterns that seem arbitrary and not natural feeling at all.

Couple that with analog shoulder buttons with a "click" at the end and you have a superior controller,

Of course, your mileage may vary.

My thoughts a long time ago was that Apple should just buy Nintendo, make bluetooth replica controllers from all generations of Nintendo hardware, and port the back catalog to iOS and Mac OS X. Then, let Nintendo (wholly owned subsidiary still with their own brand name) built new games and gaming peripherals for iOS and OS X. Oh, and drop the iPad processor in the AppleTV to let it run games as well.

Yep, that's what having delusional leadership does for you. Eventually though, after the sales of the Wii U have been non-existant for three or four years, and all the real talent has left the company for some company that will actually be able to pay them enough to feed their families; the shareholders will get angry and either loose all their money or sell the shell of a former glorious company for pennies on the dollar. It is going to be tragic and funny to watch at the same time.

Four years from now, they'll be a new hardware.
How would seeing a game company go down be funny to watch? Every true gamer would think otherwise. Nintendo will not whore out their titles to anyone else cause their handheld games are doing just fine. Why would there be any reason to buy a 3DS if u could find their software on the app store for $5.99 a pop? It just wouldn't make any business sense.

It's funny cause everyone sees the problems that they are in..... EXCEPT FOR THEM. You read articles about them, and it certainly sounds like they have no solutions, or don't care to try new things. The only good thing about selling 160,000 Wii Us last quarter is that it is a loss leader, so you loose less money? Seriously though, 160,000 Wii Us, 210,000 Wiis, and 1.4 million 3DSs in one quarter? That is barely enough to hold an ecosystem afloat. How many iPhones/iPads/AppleTVs/Macs did Apple sell in that quarter? And, I don't want Nintendo to whore out their titles, their market cap is about 16.6 Billion USD. Hostile takeover.

I dont know how many iphone/ipad/appletv/macs Apple sold. You seem to be the number guy so why not inform us? Jk. I think its unfair to compare Nintendo to Apple since they are in a totally different market. Its like comparing oranges to err... apples.

So the lack of 1st party title releases made it difficult for them to sell units. We suggest they do what now? Panic and start developping for others? Why dont they just give up the hardware business and focus on software only à la Sega while at it? Kick Reggie Fils-Aimes down the steps and take helm of NoA for hostile takeover.

Nintendo dont care about trying new things? Didnt they win the last generation's console war by providing gamers with a new experience to play? They had everybody and their grandmamas swinging for turkeys with the Wii remote. Lol

I think a price drop may be in order for this last quarter. Im sure they will have to do it once Xbox one comes out this November.

31.2 million iPhones, 14.6 million iPads, and 3.8 million Macs. It was a disappointing quarter as well. Winning what happened last generation means nothing in business, only winning what is next. And, they ain't exactly off to a flying start.

And I think that you answered your own question there. "So the lack of 1st party releases made it difficult for them to sell units." All of Nintendo's value, all $17 Billion Dollars of it is in Mario and Zelda. Their hardware is nothing without their first person titles. Why not drop the hardware charade and focus on what they do best, make great games? I know Nintendo won't that's why I propose a hostile takeover. These are amazing game franchises and amazing games, and they deserve better and a wider audience.

Not gonna happen. Just cause its been a disappointing quarter they shouldnt throw in the towel yet. They haven't even released their long awaited 1st party games yet... And you want them to what now? Just cause they develop hardware doesnt mean they cant make great games as well. Lets just wait till their games come out to see where they stand.

What's posting Apple's figures trying to prove? Those are staggering numbers but even if you combine the big 3's number together, they dont even come close to those numbers. So what should Sony and MS do? Throw in the towel as well? Develop games only to be played on a flat surface like the iPad? Thats funny! I have over 500 hundred paid games to play on my iPad and guess how many games I actually play? ONE! Wordfeud, anyone? 98% of tablet games are shit. (Unless you a kid or an old fart who doesnt know better)

You asked for the figures, so I sent them to you.

And just read the previous posts to answer the rest of your questions.

Nintendo is not known for making good controllers, so I'm not sure why anyone would want them for iOS. Low standards I guess.

Nostalgia. I would love to play Mario 64 with a replica N64 controller. But, I don't want to have another stupid console laying around.

Imagine a marriage between Apple & Nintendo such awesomeness would probably sign the coming of the anti-christ.

Nintendo are a bunch of losers then, I'm not about to go and buy one of their pieces of junk they call hardware just to play their titles, however, I would buy their games (a LOT of them) for both my sons iPads. So sounds to me like their business model sucks! Their loss anyway, they'll be the next to go through the toilet with these types of attitudes. People with iPads would be in addition to their current user base, so they would only make more money. Goodbye Nintendo!

Once Super Mario Galaxy comes out for the Wii U then Im there. I dont wanna experience any Nintendo games on an iPad. Are u kidding me? Lol Why not call out Sony for not whoring out their first party games like God of War or Little Big Planet? Or why not say goodbye to MS for refusing to put Halo, Forza on iOS?

That's assuming you have that hardware, did you read my post? I'm not about to buy another piece of hardware just to get a few games. They're never going to get a cent out of me for my boys iPads are they? But they could, I'm sure I'm not alone there.

Yes i read your post. I dont have the Wii U either and quite frankly, im waiting for a price drop and some 1st party titles to be release. Then i will definitely buy a Wii U so i can play with my kids. The reason why i dont pay for games on the ipad is cause i cant play with them. Sure, i bought and we co-op on Minecraft PE but its not exactly the same experience as playing on the same screen.