You look at Nintendo, and you see a gaming company. A brand that has existed for eons, a name synonymous with video game icons and some of the best-selling hardware of all time. Nintendo is video games, and the entire industry would have been wildly different if the Japanese company had stuck to making card games and toys. Could Nintendo be more than just a video game company though? One of its new investors certainly thinks so.
“Activist investor” ValueAct has recently spent a fair chunk of change on Nintendo stock, purchasing enough shares to own a 2 percent stake in the company and have a say on the direction that the brand should be going in according to Reuters via Gamespot. This isn’t a case of Vivendi trying to own Ubisoft, which made for some heated discussion during that attempt at a hostile takeover of the French publisher, but more ValueAct looking to “influence” Nintendo’s future direction.
The company wants to see Nintendo transform itself into a “broader entertainment company” and they have had meetings with Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa and his management. The influence that ValueAct wants to have on Nintendo, is to make it more profitable in the same vein as Activision and EA. Oh dear.
“We believe Nintendo will be one of the largest digital media services in the world, in a category with the likes of Netflix, Disney+, Tencent Interactive Entertainment and Apple Music,” the company said in a letter. To be fair, this idea is something that was floated around the halls of Nintendo in the past, when the late great president at the time Satoru Iwata imagined a Nintendo that could be more than just a gaming company. “A lot of people around the world think Nintendo is solely a company that makes video games, and I believe more and more of our own employees have started thinking in this way,” Iwata said back in 2014.
Some employees in charge of development find themselves in positions where all they are thinking about is how they can make the game in front of them more fun, so I don’t think it can be helped if others outside of our company see us the same way.
It’s the method in which Nintendo will grow, that might raise some concerns. Wanting the same level of success as Activision and EA comes with a huge caveat, as those publishers have aggressively live-serviced the hell out of their games in a manner which may have been obscenely profitable but has also been massively controversial. Nintendo may have tested those waters with a dip into some season pass add-ons for their premier franchises (Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Pokémon Sword/Shield being two examples), but they’ve done so in a way that adds value to a game and doesn’t feel exploitative.
For now, ValueAct is merely proposing ideas for expansion to Nintendo. If they want to be more influential, they’ll need to pony up a lot more cash for a company that is currently worth many many billions.
Last Updated: April 22, 2020