One of the biggest problems that has long plagued Nintendo consoles been their lackluster third-party support, with Nintendo’s internally developed games undeniably being the biggest draw. And while Mario, Link, and company haven’t been enough to keep the Wii U from becoming one of the company’s biggest busts, they have done enough to make a big fan out of the head of one of Nintendo’s chief competitors.
Phil Spencer, the head of all things Xbox, is such a fan, in fact, that he recently went so far as to tell AusGamers that Nintendo’s first-party games are the best around.
“As someone who’s been in this industry and played games forever, I’ll still say it: Nintendo has the strongest first-party of anybody,” said an incredibly forthright Spencer, reportedly rattling his public relations handlers with the comment. “They’re just fantastic, and the memories that they have instilled in so many of us, who’ve played their games and had those delightful experiences… having those on Xbox would be great. Obviously we have Minecraft on Nintendo and when that opportunity came up to work with them, you know, some people might look at it and say ‘why would you even do that?’ but with Nintendo, it’s been a great partnership on [Minecraft].
“In fact they put Mario in Minecraft on Wii U with the mash-up skin pack. And continuing to work with them on that and building a stronger relationship… I mean if that paid dividends down the road that led to something else, that would be fantastic. I know I get questions all the time on would I ever like to see Banjo in Super Smash Bros. and I’m, like, ‘Yes, I would do that in a second.’ And certain people think I’m saying that as some sort of PR answer, and I’m, like, ‘Why wouldn’t you?'”
Nintendo, of course, has featured characters from Capcom, Konami, Namco, and even former console-producing rival Sega in its Smash Bros. games, but adding a character from a current console rival’s lineup would be a first. It’s even more interesting/crazy that Spencer suggested Banjo specifically, considering the platforming bear was conceived in Nintendo land when creator Rare was a Nintendo second-party developer before Nintendo sold Rare to Microsoft in 2002.
But Spencer didn’t even stop there. He also showed an openness to a doubtless even less likely scenario: Nintendo characters appearing on Xbox. As AusGamers pointed out, Mario is of course about to join Pokemon in becoming the first Nintendo properties to get games on other platforms (iOS and Android). And although Nintendo sending the plumber over to Microsoft’s home games console is certainly an even wilder fantasy than his once unthinkable appearance on mobile phones, Spencer allowed himself to dream a little.
“I’d love to see Mario on Xbox,” he said. He may not be the only bigwig in the Xbox camp who feels that way, either.
“If your question is if Nintendo gave us all of their franchises and asked us to put them on Xbox One,” said General Manager, Xbox Games Marketing Aaron Greenberg in a separate interview, “it would be a very interesting conversation.”