In his latest research, Lazard's Colin Sebastian has said that opportunities for third parties on Nintendo hardware are starting to bloom, despite a legacy of the manufacturer's software dominating its own hardware, as a widening audience diversifies itself from core Nintendo brands.
Despite what Lazard sees as "consensus view... that Nintendo platform gains would likely come at some expense to third-party developers and publishers," Sebastian says that view "does not adequately reflect Nintendo’s evolving strategy in the video game market, and may prove to be overly pessimistic as video game industry growth rebounds following several sluggish years in the console transition period."
In fact, Sebastian says he believes the Wii is broadening the market for casual and mainstream consumers that would not necessarily be "predisposed to legacy Nintendo brands (e.g. Mario, Zelda
To illustrate the point, he notes that Nintendo said last month that both the Wii and the DS are bringing more older and female gamers to the market, and that third party publishers will see the advantages of building greater-mass market awareness, noting that three of five new Electronic Arts IPs are exclusive to Wii -- Boogie, Playground,
and a forthcoming Steven Spielberg title.
Sebastian also notes that Nintendo itself, despite dominating software sales charts, is focused itself on making sure it does not "predestine Wii to the lackluster market share achieved by the GameCube" and has "aggressively pursued third-party support and is offering new tools (such as the recently announced WiiWare) to expand content offerings," leading him to believe a more "balanced blend between top first-party and third-party titles" will emerge.
Finally, Sebastian says that by the end of Nintendo's fiscal year, Lazard expects the console's installed base to approach 20 million units, with TIE ratios steadily increasing, and enhanced connectivity between the Wii and DS pushing sales of the other.
He concludes that shares of third-party publishers "largely discount moderating Wii momentum over the next couple of years, while additional third-party share gains on Nintendo platforms, or a broader consumer market for console games, are not wholly reflected in shares."