In many ways, Nintendo is the Disney of video game companies. Their products are generally family-friendly and their properties are recognizable by both adults and kids. Nintendo has been pretty strict about the licensing of their properties, but now it seems they’re going to relax those restrictions in a major way: by building theme park rides.
According to Bit-Tech, Nintendo posted a ¥17.6 billion profit in Q4 2014, an impressive turnaround considering that the company posted a ¥33.42 billion loss last year, the so-called “Year of Luigi” that saw dismal sales of the Wii U and other Nintendo-related products. Financial analysts credit the Nintendo DS and 3DS XL consoles for not only helping keep Nintendo afloat, but also in helping the company regain a profitable status.
Now, Nintendo has their eyes set on building theme park attractions to boost merchandise sales and product recognition. This won’t be an entire theme park dedicated to the video game company, but will be an add-on to Universal’s theme parks. Nintendo has already created theme park attractions in Osaka, Japan, so this isn’t exactly breaking new ground, but it will be exciting for American park-goers
Word on the street is that if sales for the Nintendo-themed areas of the Universal parks are high enough, the company will eventually fund a dedicated Nintendo theme park somewhere in North America. There is no official report on when the theme park extension will break ground, but expect an announcement within the coming year.
One angle that I feel a lot of news outlets are missing is the possibility of a partnership between Universal and Nintendo that reaches far beyond theme park attractions. For example, imagine Universal studios funding big budget Nintendo movies. Universal is a fairly savvy studio, and if they see that a lot of people are buying Kirby merchandise, what’s to discourage them from green lighting a Kirby feature film? They’ve had a (horrible) cartoon show already, so if it’s going to make money, why not take a stab at it?
Either way, I’m excited at this news. Nintendo-themed roller coasters and haunted house rides would be a blast for families and video game enthusiasts alike. Everyone knows who Mario is, and now kids can get their pictures taken with him just like with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. Watch out Disney: Nintendo has just entered the game.