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Nintendo’s PC Plans are a Slow Step Forward

Nintendo might be officially supporting Mario Kart on PC. It’s not the Mario Kart you want. Still, that’s progress for the only console manufacturer that doesn’t see the potential of PC.

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Don’t get me wrong. Official support for Mario Kart Tour on PC is more than I ever expected from Nintendo. But that will hopefully be the first step towards a bright new future.

I mean, a glorified mobile release isn’t quite the equivalent of Sony eventually porting their games across. And it’s a far cry from Microsoft’s all-in policy. But it might just be the start of something good.

Going On Tour

Dataminers of Mario Kart Tour’s latest update found references to both mouse support and “native emulation”. That will let PC gamers access Android apps on their phone. The fact that Nintendo are moving to support that officially might not seem like the biggest news, but if it’s successful in that space, it may become an interesting new revenue stream for the company.

And why wouldn’t it be? PC is already the best place to play Nintendo’s best games. Ocarina of Time has raytracing. Mario 64 has an unofficial port that is improving all the time. Hell, emulation means you can play any Switch game at way better quality than on the console itself.

All of this is amazing, but it has one flaw. Nintendo isn’t getting anything out of it.

There’s a whole community of Nintendo enthusiasts on PC who would not only give Nintendo their money for an official release, but then who would improve the games far beyond their original scope for free. Support it properly, people could have top versions of their favourite 90s games with achievements and lord knows what else. And all the company needs to do is open the floodgates.

I know, I know – nothing is ever that simple.

Waiting on Nintendo

Nintendo are really the only console manufacturer who still rely wholly on their own enclosed ecosystem. You want to officially play Nintendo games? You better buy a Nintendo console.

That’s fine when you’re talking about the Switch. Even with a decent emulation solution, people are buying it in their millions. And deservedly so – it has its issues, but you can’t argue with the software. Smash is my most played game of this generation.

On the other hand, imagine there had been another Wii U. I don’t think we’d have been having this conversation about if Nintendo might come to PC.

This is a company that doesn’t necessarily have to give into the pressure of releasing on PC. They don’t care about everybody being able to play. They don’t even really care about their own customers, so long as they’re still buying full price.

Releasing on PC in any form would be a big change for Nintendo, and that’s why making sure Mario Kart Tour is working correctly is a big step forward. At any level, being able to access these characters officially on a PC is a step in the right direction for fans. And maybe, if the money is there, it’ll be a step in the right direction for Nintendo too.

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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