Will Xbox Ever Have Nintendo Games on Game Pass or Vice Versa?

By Todd Russell Feb17,2024

It’s been a tumultuous couple weeks for Microsoft Xbox speculation. Every rumor from them getting out of the console business to putting first party exclusives on the PS5 and Switch like Starfield and the new Indiana Jones game coming later in 2024 (Indiana Jones and the Great Circle coming in 2024 announced at Xbox Developer Direct + 10 Best Indy Games?)

Then Phil Spencer, Xbox CEO comes out Thursday 2/15 and calms the turbulent media waters, reinforcing Microsoft’s commitment to producing future Xbox consoles, doubling down that the next console will be even bigger and better.

During the podcast, Xbox confirmed what has been rumored for weeks, that some Xbox games will no longer be console exclusive. “Four” games will be heading to PlayStation and Nintendo Switch, which Microsoft described as being “hidden gems,” rather than their main AAA single-player games. Indeed, the rumors that started the backlash against this plan included Starfield and Indiana Jones, two games Microsoft specifically confirmed are not in development for PlayStation 5, at least for now. 

Xbox Game Pass has hit a new growth milestone, as Microsoft’s gaming ambitions expand (msn.com)

The naysayers will say, “sure, Microsoft, for now” and the fanboys will rejoice. Us? We’ll continue to play games more. Whomever and wherever they are published 🙂

And then there’s Nintendo.

They canceled, er postponed, their planned Nintendo Direct this week. And now the rumors persist there: February Nintendo Direct May Have Been Delayed Because Of Xbox Event – Report – GameSpot

Good old Nintendo. Home to Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong and other IP that gamers salivate over.

There has been a lot of speculation over Nintendo releasing their successor to the Switch in 2024: the Switch 2, as it’s been dubbed. Most speculation is that it will cost $400 and be an iterative launch, not something new and different. This is kind of boring to me and my initial thought posted to Discord was as follows:

Am I in the minority that isn’t as excited about a Nintendo Switch 2? I mean, one of the things that makes Nintendo cool is that they don’t do what everybody else does. They are shifty, weird and creative. And if they go safe, they just do an iteration of the Switch, a Switch 2 .. it’s not very daring , it’s not Nintendo we know and love. It’s … boring.

It’s all speculation, nothing has been announced, but Switch 2 or Switch Pro at $400 — IF that’s what the big N is doing — does not turn me on the way something entirely new, weird, different and, well, Nintendo would do … maybe now that Miyamoto is in his 70s, some of that innovation is dying .. What do YOU guys think?

Instead of talking about Switch 2, though, there is a bigger question I’d like to explore in this article.

Will we ever get Mario on Xbox or PlayStation? That’s the million dollar question, because to date, we get those only on Nintendo hardware. Nintendo also fights to protect their IP like no other gaming company, including Microsoft and Sony, yes. But with any larger game acquisition like Activision/Blizzard being bought by Microsoft, the subject of Nintendo being bought or merging comes up. And over the years this author can think of multiple occasions the topic has reared its head and, seemingly from Nintendo’s position, it always seems to be shot down as any remote possibility.

And then there are articles like Nintendo says it has a ‘great relationship’ with Microsoft, after it emerged Xbox wanted to buy the company, teasing quotes and commentary like this:

Nintendo’s Bowser was asked about the leaks during an Inverse interview published on Friday. “We have a great relationship with Microsoft,” he said. “We consider them to be partners in many, many ways, and you only have to look at Nintendo Switch to see that partnership. “Obviously, Minecraft is on Nintendo Switch, and we brought Banjo Kazooie to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So, we’re looking forward to that partnership continuing.”

This is what Nintendo does time and again: strategic moves that benefit their hardware, them. The Switch doesn’t really compete per se with the Xbox Series X and PS5. It sort of lives in its own world of mobile and less powered Android-based gaming with amazing first party support. If Nintendo didn’t have Mario, Zelda and others, they would have long ago gone the path of Sega.

This, we might assume from the past, is what keeps driving them forward: make strategic deals that benefit their current hardware, whether it be the Switch, or their online system or whatever they are doing. They are Nintendo, through and through, and want to remain their own entity. It’s this reason that I doubt we’ll see them being bought by Microsoft or anybody else any time soon.

Answering the question in the title: is it possible we’ll get Mario and Zelda on the Xbox or PlayStation any time soon? If it benefits Nintendo somehow, yes, it’s possible. But this author isn’t counting on it any time soon. Nintendo marches to their own drum, and honestly, it’s kind of cool that they do. They make some really fun games that nobody else makes — or can make, because of infringement concerns. Some might say they wish Nintendo would stop making hardware and simply focus on games like Sega did, and I can see that point of view, but they do make some cool hardware that nobody else makes. Nobody else made the Wii or Switch. The Steam Deck is sort of the closest thing to the Switch on the PC side and look how well that is doing.

Maybe a better question than the headline is should Nintendo sell itself to Microsoft or somebody else? Don’t count out Valve, btw. Whenever I think of this question, I keep coming back to the old adage that competition is good for us, the consumer. So, the more options we have with competing business, the better we will be. It’s good we have the Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, Steam and, well, others. It’s good for gaming to continue to have options. Yes, fewer options might seem to benefit our pocketbooks in the short term, but we might pay for that in the long term with less innovation and creativity.

This isn’t going to stop the fuel of speculation that we could get exclusive Nintendo games on other systems, but my guess is we only will if Nintendo wants us to, and at least based on the long history of the big N, it’s unlikely.

Back to Xbox? Yeah, they are going to dole out more games on other platforms including Nintendo. They’re telling us for now anyway that it won’t be their first party exclusives like Starfield.

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