2015 has been an interesting year for Nintendo. They have finally begun to recover from last year's profit issues and they have broken from corporate tradition on more than one occasion. The rumored Zelda series would certainly have been a departure for the company, as is their newly formed mobile gaming partnership with studio DeNA.
This week, a new partnership was announced which will be an even bigger departure for the company: theme parks. Working with Universal Parks & Resorts, Nintendo will be bringing their brand of entertainment to Universal parks. Nintendo has long been interested in creating a partnership of this sort, but has never been convinced of the quality that such a partnership could bring. Universal changed their minds, but how?
According to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, it was how Universal handled another property that they do not own, Harry Potter, that convinced him that Universal was the company he could trust with his brand. Of course, Islands of Adventure has had Marvel Island far longer than The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, their treatment of the Marvel brand was not nearly as well-considered. In fact, with the impending doom of the Marvel rights reverting to new owner Disney, there is little concern that it could be rebranded without any real loss.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, however, could not so easily be unbranded. What this means is a far more convincing and immersive environment. This type of immersive environment and respectful treatment of a 3rd party brand brought Nintendo to the table. Iwata described the meetings with Universal, saying,
Even inside Nintendo, the possibility had been discussed several times. But we had not made this a reality because, on each occasion, the time was not ripe yet or we were not able to find an appropriate partner with whom to work. In the case of our first meeting with Universal Parks & Resorts, they provided us with a very detailed proposal right from the beginning. Also, as we met right after they had opened the Harry Potter attractions, we were able to learn precisely how they had been created...
As soon as I returned to Japan, I informed (Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto), and I told him that I wanted to give positive consideration to it. Since then, we have met with them several times in Japan and in the U.S., and not only me and people who carry out our negotiations but also members from each company's creative side, namely, people who will be assigned to make the actual attractions and Nintendo's game producers who have been creating our games for many years.
There is no timeline on the release of these new attractions, but hopefully it will come about sooner than later.