Nintendo fans know all too well what an “unprecedented partnership” with EA can bring after the Wii U deal failed to launch. Still, it’s undeniable that EA is an important asset to have if you hope to compete in the console business. Throughout history some of the most successful consoles have had EA’s support. One could argue it helped catapult the Genesis into the mainstream with its huge stable of sports games. It also could be argued that it was one of the leading factors that sunk the Dreamcast when EA supporting the PS2 instead.
It appears that Nintendo and EA could be in talks to try and negotiate some deals when it comes to supporting Nintendo’s upcoming platform, the NX. According to NintendoLife, EA is one of the big publishers that have had NX development kits since last year. In fact, according to their sources both EA and Nintendo will be meeting in March to try and form a detailed plan for EA to be successful on Nintendo’s new hardware. It appears that EA is deeply concerned about its sports titles not selling well on Nintendo platforms. It notes that unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo typically doesn’t spend money advertising during sporting events, where EA’s titles are often given the spotlight.
In addition, both Sony and Microsoft have been accommodating to EA by releasing hardware bundles with its games packaged in. Last holiday PlayStation 4 was bundled with Star Wars Battlefront and in the past Microsoft has teamed up with Madden and Fifa bundles. This hasn’t been the case with Nintendo hardware.
EA also purportedly cites the Wii U’s lack of app functionality as a hindrance. Entertainment applications like WWE network, NHL Gamecenter Live, MLB.TV, NBA, and the NFL are absent from Nintendo’s console, but available on the competition. Basically, it sounds like EA just wants Nintendo to catch up to the rival consoles in features and online functionality.
We must remember that EA and Nintendo working on projects together is nothing new. One only needs to look back at some GameCube games to realize that Nintendo was eager to put its Mario characters in EA games, like SSX: On Tour and NBA Street Volume 3, so it’s not like they can’t get along. It’s also quite possible that EA is receiving some pressure from Disney to bring its stable of upcoming Star Wars games to Nintendo systems. Given the obstacles in place for Wii U (low sales, two screens, Power PC vs. x86 chips), it could be that EA is eager to jump aboard the NX, assuming it’s more developer-friendly.
While I personally don’t care about EA’s lineup of sports titles, I know many gamers do. The question is whether or not EA and Nintendo can come up with a plan to make them sell on the NX. I’m more interested in other EA properties, like Mass Effect and Star Wars, both of which I think could find a huge audience on Nintendo platforms. Hopefully these talks work out and we see a much better third party turnout this time around.