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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Why Nintendo is Buying Next Level Games, and What it Means

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - They must be psyched.

Today, Nintendo announced their intention to buy out 100% of game developer Next Level Games, known for developing various games for Nintendo such as Luigi's Mansion 3, Super Mario Strikers, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and my favourite, Punch-Out!! Wii. This will make Next Level Games an official Nintendo subsidiary, as opposed to an independent developer that Nintendo frequently contracts projects out to.

Punch-Out!! Wii Bear Hugger title defense Salmon Arm British Colombia Canada introduction
File image of a very hard-working Next Level Games employee (right).

Nintendo bought out Next Level Games because some of the owning shareholders of the developer wanted to sell and make some money, and Nintendo was concerned enough that they bought out the whole studio, rather than risk being bought out by another company.

This also gives Nintendo a subsidiary to acquire talent in the non-trivial Canadian game development pipeline, allowing them to join other Vancouver-area game industry companies like Battlefy, Electronic Arts Vancouver, Relic Entertainment, and The Coalition (the Xbox Game Studio that makes Gears of War). ...And there's wherever the CAPCOM Vancouver people went to after that got shut down. Don't underestimate the importance of having a location there. You might think, and hope, that everyone is just going to work remotely forever from now on, but that's probably not going to happen.

None of this means, “Oh, [game series I like] sequel is confirmed!” Next Level Games have proven themselves talented enough to really work on... anything. You shouldn't cast them as being specific loyalists to any given franchise. That said, I think Punch-Out!! Wii is unarguably the best one in that series, while you could still argue the original Luigi's Mansion is better than its sequels. ...And lots of people disliked Federation Force, though maybe not for the best reasons.

And maybe Nintendo will have them work on a net-new franchise.

By the way, Nintendo rarely goes out and acquires other companies like this. The last notable one was Monolith Soft over a decade ago. It's sort of touching that they care about a Western game studio so much that when an owner says, “let's get bought by someone”, Nintendo is all, “Yeah, no, you're staying making games for us.” (I'm assuming Next Level Games is happy about being acquired by Nintendo, because that's probably anyone's dream scenario. Right?)

What are your feelings on Next Level Games being acquired? Were you aware that Vancouver is a hip-and-happening gaming place? Besides Vancouver, several other Canadian areas have a gaming scene, though many are affiliated with Ubisoft.

Next Level Games was then set to work on Mario Strikers: Battle League, the third game in that series.
Nintendo's next relevant acquisition is of a CG animation company.



    1. Have you ever thought of one of the Canadian game studios as a potential employer?

  2. I'm happy they bought the studio. Now if they had only bought Rare...

    1. Learning from mistakes.

      (Though... you look how Rare has turned out, and I dunno...)


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