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Nintendo Turned Down the Chance for Exclusivity to Skylanders

by Ron Duwell | April 17, 2014April 17, 2014 6:30 pm PDT

Skylanders

Nintendo had the chance to partner up with Activision and Toys For Bob to create Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure exclusively, but the Japanese video game giant reportedly turned down the offer.

Toys For Bob co-founder Paul Reiche recently held an interview with Polygon detailing how Skylanders came to be a surprising success. In the interview, he mentions how he is still baffled by Nintendo’s decision.

“They spent a long time looking and looking. They were just like ‘we have never seen anything like this before.’ I’ve always wondered about the full meaning of that comment [laughs].”

Nintendo has been traditionally very protective of its properties and rarely lets other companies make use of their characters. Anybody alive during the 1980’s Nintendomania days should have no problem telling you why. Toys were ugly and barely resembled the real products. That horrible Captain N: The Game Master show looked nothing like the NES hits.

It was a time when Nintendo was much less organized with its marketing, and that kind of “throw anything at the wall and see what sticks” mentality simply wouldn’t work today.

Granted, Nintendo would have no problem reeling in a small company like Toys For Bob nowadays, forcing them to do a good job to their standards. Reiche believes that Nintendo didn’t support the idea because they hadn’t seen the product idea succeed before, but I don’t buy that for a second. After all, this is the company which gambled on the Wii Remote and scored big.

“We have no idea why. Clearly, they have got properties well suited to this world. Why it is that they didn’t rush in here will probably haunt them for the rest of their days. Nintendo could have kicked Disney [Infinity’s] ass. If I was running Nintendo I would have jumped on this.”

It’s clear to me that the idea of a new product didn’t scare away Nintendo. It was the prospect of allowing Activision to develop what would essentially be a Mario game. No way is that ever going to happen while the Earth revolves around the sun and the universe continue to expand. Maybe if Nintendo had been allowed to develop the game within its own walls, this could have worked, but not in a million years if Nintendo had to put Mario in the hands of Activision.

A team up with Spyro might have been sweet, but I’m talking about mid 90s Spyro, not the one we see today.

Instead of Nintendo’s familiar friends, Activision and Toys For Bob got the last laugh by creating original characters and Skylanders became a huge hit on all platforms. The Wii, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and  Nintendo 3DS turned it into an overnight sensation, leaving Nintendo with egg all over its face for its silly decision.

Not really, though. Ask yourself if Skylanders would have been such a hit had it been exclusive to the Wii U, a console that doesn’t exactly have the booming audience to guarantee success. How many people would actually have played it then? Skylanders is a fun little gimmicky idea, but not something that shifts entire consoles.

Ask yourself though, if Super Smash Bros. was to include bonuses from Skylanders-esque toys, such as dropping in items or giving a boost to the in game characters, how quickly would you jump on that? I’d do it in a heart beat.

Polygon

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Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...


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