Nintendo have announced that the company has purchased Canadian long-time game development partner Next Level Games for an undisclosed amount, pending regulator approval.
Nintendo have a wealth of in-house talent, and a host of second-party studios and third-party partners they work with on a regular basis to ensure a strong lineup of new titles for Nintendo platforms, but it’s rare that the company opens up their wallet to purchase a studio outright. It’s not unheard of (the company bought Monolith Soft in 2007), but it’s more common for Nintendo to form partnerships with independent studios rather than bring them under the Nintendo umbrella.
Next Level Games are a trusted development studio for Nintendo. They have worked on several popular Nintendo IP in the past. Most recently, the company were in charge of the revitalization of the Luigi’s Mansion IP with new entries on 3DS and Nintendo Switch, alongside the ill-fated Metroid Prime: Federation Force, but the partnership between the two companies stretches back to the GameCube era and the development of Mario Strikers.
Although the company have exclusively worked on Nintendo titles since 2013 with the release of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, they have previously partnered with the likes of Ubisoft and SEGA on licensed properties like Captain America: Super Soldier and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon for the Wii.
This deal will bring Next Level Games under Nintendo’s control and could result in even closer partnership on Nintendo projects. Monolith Soft, since being purchased by Nintendo, have not only worked on sprawling JRPG projects like Xenoblade Chronicles, but have also provided development support for internal studios within Nintendo. Complete ownership and closer collaboration could result in such a partnership forming alongside the company’s stated hope to improve development speed and quality within the studio.
The deal for Next Level Games is expected to be completed by 1 March. Personally, I’m hoping this deal paves the way for a new Mario Strikers title, but that may be wishful thinking.