In a rare move by the Japanese gaming powerhouse, Nintendo today announced plans to acquire long-time partner Next Level Games. The Canadian developer has been involved in some of the publisher’s most loved franchises over the years. These include Luigi’s Mansion and the Metroid Prime: Federation Force for the 3DS.
Next Level are already a second-party developer for Nintendo, which means that they develop titles exclusively for the publisher. Acquisitions from Nintendo are not a common phenomenon, however. The last acquisition of independent developer Monolith Soft, previously a Bandai Namco endeavour happening way back in 2007. Prior to that, the only true takeover that wasn’t in part owned by Nintendo was American company Retro Studios. This happened way back in 2002, and inevitably led to the creation of the Metroid universe. It seems when Nintendo move to strike, it invariably gets it right.
Done and Dusted by March 1st
But in an announcement from Nintendo it says that this new acquisition will help to secure internal development resources. It also claims the move will boost collaboration. Whilst additional details on the purchase are scant, Nintendo expects the deal to be complete by March 1st 2021.
Nintendo intends to buy out 100% of all Next Level shares. It further reveals that the total cost to the publisher shouldn’t impact 2021 earnings significantly. But considering 8 of the 10 of Amazon’s best selling games of 2020 were Nintendo exclusives, it would have to be an acquisition of Microsoft / ZeniMax scale to scrape the surface of an otherwise glistening P&L.
Why Nintendo chose 2021 to make its first developer acquisition in over a decade is not entirely clear. Perhaps this is in the wake of some of the biggest deals seen in the industry taking place in 2020. Perhaps Nintendo are looking to sure up its portfolio. But whether Microsoft, or any other gaming power house would look to acquire a second party developer for Nintendo however, is a question that has left many scratching their heads.
“Video games are great. I should know, I’ve played some.”
Olly S, July 2020