Nintendo fans, we have good news. Or, Mario news. Over the years, Nintendo has had its skeptics, just as any other company would, but a select few always come up mentioning Mario moving to a new console -- perhaps something like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Well, with a recent announcement by Iwata, these theories could disappear.
A question was presented to Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, at their recent financial briefing:
Will it be the first time for you to license popular Nintendo characters like Mario and Donkey Kong? When it becomes possible for other companies to use these licensed characters, will they be able to use Mario and Donkey Kong in, for example, their video games?
Seems like an interesting enough idea, right? Well, this isn't exactly what Nintendo and Iwata want to see for their beloved characters.
As a matter of fact, we have been granting merchandising licenses to other companies for the use of our intellectual property. A good example would be Mario plush toys, and there are many other products that feature Mario’s image as well. While we have been doing this for a long time, however, we are yet to do so in the digital fields, as it is very difficult to have clearly definable criteria to decide whether a certain product should be perceived as a game or not. For example, let us say that we just received a request to license Mario in educational PC software that will enable children to enjoy learning with their favorite character. However, children are not expecting Mario to be a teacher; they are expecting Mario to let them play games. This means that, while the publisher was perhaps originally trying to use Mario for educational purposes only, they may very well end up making PC games with Mario. So we deliberately set a broader definition for what we meant by “digital area” for which we decided not to license our game character rights. However, having Mario loved by many people in various settings is by no means a bad thing for our future, and if we can do that in the right manner, it will in fact help our business. The point is that we are not ruling out the digital area, and we want to think about it in a flexible way. On the other hand, it does not mean that we will license our character rights in every single case and I do not envisage a scenario in which we would license Mario out to another company to make a Mario video game. I would like to mention, just for reference, that there are examples in which we have licensed Mario as a guest character in some third-party titles on Nintendo platforms. We thought it was acceptable as long as Mario appeared only on Nintendo platforms and have continued to manage Mario in such a fashion, so Mario has already appeared in several games as a guest character.
Mario has indeed appeared, alongside his brother and many other characters from the Nintendo franchises, as a cuddly plush toy. However, could you really imagine the legendary plumber on a different console family?
As of now, there are no plans to license Mario, or any other Nintendo character, to be used in games by a different company. Keep in mind though that you should always be able to find one of those plushy Marios or Donkey Kongs sitting in the store. What other ways could they be used than jumping about kingdoms saving princesses and running around using bananas as currency? It's what the gang does best.