Nintendo and Xbox are Friendly but Terms are Biased

nintendo xbox title screen logo

Gone are the days of intense industry rivalry and competition. After decades of strategy focused on dethroning the closest competitor, global leaders discovered that cooperation yields better results for entire business segments. Although the video game sector is late in adopting the new mindset, multiple industry veterans are partnering to deliver fans unprecedented gaming experiences. The Nintendo and Xbox collaboration is the most prominent alliance in recent memory, but is the relationship too unilateral? Let’s dive in.

What is Yours is Mine

The trifecta of the Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony rivalry has resulted in harmful practices for video game fans. From exclusive titles to incompatible cross-play options, the desire of platform owners has long been to “win” the latest console generation. By locking content behind a hardware paywall, the industry forced players to choose among the “Big Three.” While this approach enraged gaming communities, fans accepted the strategy as commonplace. Until now.

With access to gaming content more unrestrained than ever, players value seamless experiences that are platform agnostic. As a result, developers are now choosing to collaborate on projects and release content on multiple platforms. Nintendo and Xbox are the latest example of this phenomenon; however, the one-sided relationship is becoming increasingly apparent.

Released in March 2017, the Nintendo Switch continues the inevitable climb to 100 million units sold. Consequently, nearly every developer is salivating at the opportunity to release content on the hybrid console. While Sony has remained on the sidelines, Microsoft has been much more active. From Ori and Cuphead to Minecraft and Hellblade, Microsoft has aggressively supported Nintendo’s portable platform. But how has Nintendo reciprocated Microsoft’s generosity? And will Microsoft release more games on Nintendo platforms?

One-Way Street

Although Microsoft has released several games on the Switch, Nintendo has not returned the favor. The closest example of Nintendo promoting a Microsoft product is the recent announcement of Minecraft Steve for Super Smash Bros Ultimate. As the industry celebrates another iconic figure in Smash, the revelation further proves our hypothesis. While Smash Bros Ultimate continues to dominate the fighting game genre, Minecraft remains the best-selling game of all time. As a result, Minecraft fans who own a Nintendo Switch are more likely to buy Smash Bros Ultimate DLC; therefore, Nintendo benefits more from the Xbox partnership.

But Microsoft remains a savvy colleague. With the announcement of Project xCloud, Phil Spencer dramatically altered Xbox’s approach to gaming. No longer focused on sales of individual software, Microsoft is concentrating on the number of subscriptions to Xbox Game Pass. Although the Redmond-based company has released multiple games for the Nintendo Switch, the Xbox owner has held on to its best content. Franchises, such as Forza, Gears of War, Halo, and Sea of Thieves, are still exclusive to Xbox and PC.

On the surface, the Xbox and Nintendo partnership appears intimate; however, both companies understand the value of intellectual property. Because the aforementioned series drive sales of Xbox hardware and Game Pass subscriptions, it is highly unlikely that Microsoft will release Halo or Gears on the Nintendo Switch. Conversely, it is doubtful that Nintendo will collaborate with Microsoft on a Mario or Zelda crossover game. Unless Microsoft unveils Game Pass on the Switch, the relationship between the two console owners will remain lukewarm. Fans can expect crossover of smaller titles and franchises; however, the “system-sellers” on both sides will remain locked behind the paywall of hardware sales.


But we want to know what you think. Do you believe that Nintendo should allow Xbox to use its intellectual property? Will Xbox bring the Halo franchise to the Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments below or the social media links on the right. Also, be sure to check out our other news items on MarioZeldaModern WarfareBlizzard and more.

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