Nintendo rejected Skylanders exclusivity

In the early days of Skylanders development, Toys for Bob approached Nintendo about making it an exclusive, but Nintendo rejected the deal.

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Before the Skylanders series became a sales juggernaut for Activision, the publisher was looking into a partner. Given the kid-friendly nature of the game, they initially went to Nintendo, which could have made the toy-game hybrid a Nintendo-exclusive. Of course, that didn't work out.

Toys for Bob co-founders Fred Ford and Paul Reiche told Polygon that in the early days of development, the pair made a presentation to Nintendo thinking it would play well with the company's image. Nintendo wasn't so sure.

"They spent a long time looking and looking," Reiche said. "They were just like 'we have never seen anything like this before.' I've always wondered about the full meaning of that comment [laughs]. We have no idea why [they passed]. Clearly, they have got properties well suited to this world. Why it is that they didn't rush in here will probably haunt them for the rest of their days."

The concept has gone on to inspire competition from Disney with Disney Infinity. Nintendo even dipped its own tentative toe into NFC toy-games with Pokemon Rumble U. But Skylanders has been the banner-holder for the idea, and Nintendo could have capitalized with its own stable of characters.

"Nintendo could have kicked Disney's ass," Reiche said. "If I was running Nintendo I would have jumped on this."

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From The Chatty

  • reply
    April 17, 2014 9:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Nintendo rejected Skylanders exclusivity.

    In the early days of Skylanders development, Toys for Bob approached Nintendo about making it an exclusive, but Nintendo rejected the deal.

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      April 17, 2014 9:08 AM

      wow that's like turning down the beatles. that's gotta hurt. what huge missed opportunity to print money by the barrel full

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      April 17, 2014 9:17 AM

      Oops

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      April 17, 2014 9:20 AM

      Hahaha, oh Nintendo, kings of some alternate universe no one else sees. The need to can Reggie 3 names-whats-his face and find new leadership.

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      April 17, 2014 9:21 AM

      sorry not sure I see the synergy between a Nintendo console and a game that includes collectible toys guys... lol

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        April 17, 2014 9:36 AM

        Pokemon to name just one, Skylanders would of been as perfect platform and system for their franchises. Super Smash Bros. Brawl also could of been turned into a Skylander game and sell like crazy.

        You could of made millions off it and I am willing to bet it sell like crazy(both of them) and be a hit.

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          April 17, 2014 9:42 AM

          indeed :P

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          April 17, 2014 9:49 AM

          Yeah, ever since I saw skylanders for the first time I was wondering why Nintendo hasnt done this yet. Rumble U had so much potential in theory.

          I mean how many pokemon are there now?

          718?

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      April 17, 2014 9:32 AM

      Crazy. Imagine if Nintendo had made the deal they could of done a Skylanders Pokemon game I bet that would sell like nutz $$$$$$ can you imagine.

      I am a big fan of Skylanders so I am glad it did not go threw even though I have a Wii U.

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      April 17, 2014 9:35 AM

      They just had to console themselves with having the game sell best on their platform instead.

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        April 17, 2014 9:50 AM

        Yeah... where did you get that info from?

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          April 17, 2014 10:05 AM

          Why, do you not believe me? :P

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            April 17, 2014 10:07 AM

            Because it's not true? Or maybe my sarcasm filter is just off on your first post. It's still early and I havent had any caffeine yet.

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              April 17, 2014 10:09 AM

              No sarcasm (other than from you?), this article has been floating around for a couple of days. http://www.forbes.com/sites/andyrobertson/2013/10/10/sales-data-suggests-wii-is-crucial-to-skylanders-swap-force-and-disney-infinity-success/

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                April 17, 2014 10:20 AM

                looks like the Wii has ~60% of the unit share. There's still 1.5-2 million units sold on the other platforms they're missing out on. More importantly they're missing out on an exclusive to drive hardware sales. Disney Infinity is selling better on 360 than Wii which suggests there's nothing intrinsic here to the Wii that will guarantee future success as long as you market it correctly. Nintendo should be looking for stuff like this to be Wii U exclusive to try to save their hardware platform.

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                  April 17, 2014 10:26 AM

                  All that aside, the Forbes article gives you a sense of how not-catastrophic the decision was. The Activision guys have their own agenda here, as Disney starts overtaking them in this space. They want to present this IP as the golden egg that people were too short sighted to sign on for.

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                    April 17, 2014 10:30 AM

                    I don't think anyone said it was catastrophic. In any case, Nintendo's main goal right now isn't to drive more Wii software sales and be the lead platform for some last gen games, it's finding a way to save the Wii U. On that front having big exclusives is pretty important and they haven't seemed to figure that out.

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                      April 17, 2014 10:44 AM

                      'Will haunt them for the rest of their days' sounds pretty catastrophic to me.

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                April 17, 2014 10:34 AM

                I learned something today. I would not have guessed that. I would still like to see more current and accurate data than something from Oct 2013 though.

                But interesting none the less.

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                April 17, 2014 10:37 AM

                This is an old article. Swapforce was not even out yet when this was written. I think a much better comparison would be Skylanders Swap Force compared to Infinity sales.

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                  April 17, 2014 10:38 AM

                  It's a year old, but at least it's Forbes. Anyway, gives you a general idea of where that stuff has been selling recently.

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      April 17, 2014 9:36 AM

      Not as bad as Verizon rejecting the iPhone

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        April 17, 2014 10:20 AM

        My favorite is Blockbuster laughing Netflix out of the boardroom when they proposed a partnership.

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          April 17, 2014 2:38 PM

          or the dude that cashed out his founding apple stock for like 10 grand

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      April 17, 2014 9:50 AM

      I have heard some stories of Nintendo asking for exclusivity on a title and they offered an absurdly low amount of money for this, like 1996 money

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      April 17, 2014 10:18 AM

      Makes sense because of Pokemon. They want it to be their own thing.

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        April 17, 2014 10:21 AM

        there's no reason both couldn't exist and Nintendo still doesn't seem close to turning Pokemon into this type of product that has been succeeding for years (long enough for Disney to clone it)

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      April 17, 2014 2:26 PM

      Well that's gotta smart.