The rumor: Okay, this is less “rumor” and more “fact,” since there’s an official statement from Toys For Bob co-founder Fred Ford. But since we haven’t heard Nintendo’s side, we’ll keep it in the speculative camp for now. The story is that Toys For Bob, having locked up a deal with Activision following their pitch for Skylanders, approached Nintendo hoping to strike up an exclusivity deal for some major funding. According to Ford, Nintendo balked, and was only willing to do a co-marketing deal, which ultimately didn’t net either party much. Ford speculates that Nintendo’s decision will “probably haunt them for the rest of their days.”
Our take: Again, Nintendo passing on an exclusivity proposition for Skylanders is all but confirmed, but whether Nintendo is beating themselves up over it is another question entirely. Skylanders has grown into an absolutely massive franchise, but who knows how Nintendo exclusivity would have affected that development? It’s tough to say, but whatever their reasoning at the time, it probably had something to do with their dominance in the console space with the Wii. The Wii U, complete with its own NFC technology was also likely well into development at the time. Nintendo’s probably just thought it could do it better, using its own brands--and probably still does.