Nintendo have created many of the world’s most famous video games, but they’re still battling it out to have the biggest console on the planet. In Canada, it’s a different story, as Nintendo has not just won the battle, but the ongoing console war.
Leading up to Christmas 2020, the Nintendo Switch became the country’s highest selling console for 25 consecutive months. On top of this, certain Nintendo games were even bigger in Canada than in some of the world’s most video game loving countries.
The US is a bigger market than Europe or Japan for some franchises – and Nintendo titles including The Legend of Zelda have performed better in Canada. Even Pokémon, already a world famous brand, has overperformed in Canada over the last decade.
Nintendo’s plans to keep the throne in Canada
They may already be dominating the market, but Nintendo aren’t stopping there. The company are doing all they can to stay number one in Canada, as their competitors struggle to catch up.
Earlier this month, the company announced they would be buying out the Canadian developer Next Level Games. The Vancouver based studio has collaborated with the Japanese giants several times, and this move will keep Nintendo ahead of their biggest video game challengers.
Next Level Games are best known for the most recent Luigi’s Mansion games, including Luigi’s Mansion 3 on the Switch. For the Wii, the company created Super Mario Strikers and its sequel.
Although this deal isn’t likely to be finalised until March, it shows Nintendo are aiming to maintain the Canadian throne. This didn’t happen overnight, with Next Level Games saying as far back as 2014 that they’d only be working with Nintendo.
But moving from collaboration to buy out is a massive deal, as Nintendo rarely buy out other studios. Their purchase of Retro Studios in 2002 and Monolith Soft in 2007 are the most notable rare exceptions.
So, what does this mean for Nintendo, and the Canadian games industry as a whole?
For Nintendo, it hopefully means following on from one of their biggest successes.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 has sold just under eight million copies, making it one of the biggest Switch games ever. Bringing Next Level Games completely into the fold signals that more sequels and spin offs are imminent.
The success of the Nintendo Switch also marks a turning point for the company in Canada. Back in 2015, Pierre-Paul Trepanier, the general manager of Nintendo Canada, claimed Canadians preferred console gaming to portable gaming.
Six years later, and this has changed rapidly thanks to the unprecedented success of the Switch. It makes sense that the company would be focusing on Canada in order to keep growing.
For starters, the country has the third largest video games industry in the world in terms of workforce, second to only Japan and the USA. In 2015, more than $3 billion was added to the country’s GDP from the games industry alone.
Why do Canadians love gaming?
Canada is also one of the most gaming friendly countries in the world. A 2015 poll found that 19 million Canadians (54% of the population) identified as gamers – a demographic that has only continued to grow.
Recent findings have also shown that Canadians have been spending more time on consoles than many other countries. Last year, it is estimated that nearly 58% of Adult Gamers reported that they played more video games.
And it’s not just games consoles, as several online games remain popular with Canadians. These range from worldwide juggernauts like Fortnite and Minecraft, to the variety of online casino games on the web.
There are different laws for gambling in each of the ten provinces, with casino games proving incredibly popular in Ontario. In a 2011 poll, just under 83% of adults in Ontario admitted to gambling once in the previous year.
In smaller provinces such as Nova Scotia, the number of adults who partake is even higher. A recent study found 87% of adults there had gambled in the previous year.
In Alberta, the gambling scene is vastly different. Most casinos split profits with local charities, and there are no restrictions to online gambling as there are elsewhere.
There are a range of different online casino games that remain popular. And the biggest games here are the same ones loved by players across the world, from classic table games like poker to online slot machines, a game that is one of the fastest growing online casino games worldwide, with many providers now offering online slot games on their site. Canadians have a love with online casino games just like they do with other online genres of games.
How gaming giants from the East are continuing to grow in the West
In a review of expected trends over the next five years, the global gaming industry found South East Asia will hold the largest gaming market share.
But clearly, Canada will remain a major market for giants in the industry – and Nintendo’s purchase of their Vancouver collaborator solidifies this.
As Nintendo so rarely make acquisitions, don’t expect them to start buying out other game’s companies in the country. But do keep an eye out for more major titles from Next Level Games.
The acquisition of the company will ensure Canada’s games industry remains strong, while keeping Nintendo dominant in the market.