How come nintendo first party games have so few glitches or issues vs other companies?

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Topcyclist

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With the release of mario wonder i noticed just how polished it is. I get that its not some giant open world that needs all these complex inputs but even mario oddessy or galaxy etc all polished. Again not as complex as something like starfield or skyrim. But still what makes nintendo finish games vs you know...finishing them to patch day one then patch again day 100 or in cyberpunk's case to patch to make the game people expected way later.

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sombre

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AV_Gamer

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@sombre: LMAO

But they're right. You have people who worked at Nintendo all their lives. Many of the people behind Super Mario Bros. Wonder have been there since the 8-bit Mario games. So you have well experienced developers who know how to make Nintendo games. Look at the maker of Smash Bros games. He has been there since the original game on N64, and was going to retire this year, but Nintendo "convinced" him to stay on and make another game for Switch 2. When you look at the other developers, they have people walking in and out like a revolving door, mainly because of the shady practices of many and the people getting tired of putting up with it.

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bigsocrates

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Nintendo spends the time and money to polish games. It's part of their philosophy and brand. They're not perfect but they spend resources on it. It helps that the Switch is cheaper and easier to develop for than the other platforms, but it's also why Zelda took 6 years even using a pre-existing engine and map.

That being said, they're not the only ones. Insomniac is pretty good and Spider-Man 2 is exponentially more complex than Mario Wonder but is still in pretty good technical shape. The biggest thing they had to patch was using the Cuban flag instead of the Puerto Rican flag. Whoopsie.

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mellotronrules

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i think Wonder isn't a super useful measuring stick for a few reasons:

-it's relatively simple/minimalist compared to other AAA games

-their hardware target is extremely locked-in

-they have a cash cushion that allows them to QA until they're satisfied

the recent Zeldas are a closer point of comparison, but even there they have an atypical development situation that isn't 1:1 with other shops.

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judaspete

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Combination of factors.

Games that are less technically complex than most. Even stuff like TotK and Mario Odyssey aren't as involved as most other AAA games today.

Lots of developers and designers with years of experience.

Less crunch.

Different priorities. Can't remember when, where, or who, but I read an interview with someone who said Nintendo locks down and polishes controls early in development before moving on to building the rest of the game. Spends more time on this aspect than most in the industry.

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Topcyclist

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@bigsocrates: I hear people trash on spiderman all over the place about bad glitches and bad choices. Maybe its just xbox trolls but it seemed like people hated the game. GB also said the game was too long boss fight wise and the story was just ok along with them thinking the combat is good but feels like the prior game, and they didn't like alot of the side missions. I'd be surprised at this point if it makes GOTY. Surprisingly thou all the GOTY contenders seem to be plagued with things people didn't like but they're all on paper at least 8-9 out of 10 games. I think the issues push out more when you're doing well, like a kid who gets 99 on a test and gets belittled for not putting their name on it.

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monkeyking1969

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They spend more time, but they have that leeway because so few 3rd parties make games for them so literally Nintendo has very little competition for selling games...you either buy their games or you have a tiny library. They can delay games or not put them out for months without falling behind or losing sales because a 3rd partly beat them on a release date.

Games on Nintendo machines in the least 15 years have fallen into three groups:

1) First party - mostly games that are good and cannot be found anywhere else - exclusive evened to the point where there are no PC ports. Also, there is never robust online, multiplayer online or DLC so that games are dead simple. Asking why first party Nintendo games have so few bugs is like asking why does any box cake mix make a product that tastes like cake?

2) 3rd Party ports - mostly big games where the worst version with the lowest framerate and graphics is on Nintendo hardware. Probably buggy in that the system really does have not enough RAM, Storage, or extras to stuff was quickly removed or blocked from function.

3) Trash - the lowest of the lowest of the junkware or old android games; mostly 'monster truck' or 'big game hunting' themed or made for users with learning disabilities.

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bigsocrates

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@monkeyking1969: Your view of Nintendo is very out of date in the age of the Switch. The Switch has an enormous flood of software, and the fact that you didn't include indies in your list of what's on Nintendo systems shows a lack of familiarity with the system. But even without indies there's a lot more third party than there used to be. Sure you can argue that there are fewer AAA games and that most of them aren't great versions, but depending on the genre that may or may not be correct. If you're into JRPGs, for example, the Switch has a ton of stuff.

And saying that Nintendo doesn't have robust online or DLC just isn't true anymore in the age of Splatoon, Smash, and Mario Kart. Even Mario Wonder has complex online features.

It's true that Nintendo still dominates sales on the Switch for a variety of reasons, but it's not true that Nintendo doesn't do DLC or online or that there's no third party competition these days.

Heck if you look at the top of the Eshop charts right now Suika Game is 2, Dave the Diver is 4, Sonic Superstars is 5, Minecraft is 6, and Stardew Valley is 7. Metal Gear Solid collection, Among Us, and Quake II are 10, 11, 12.

It's true that the first "AAA" third party game you'll see is Skyrim at 19 and Wolfenstein at 24, but Animal Crossing is 21 so it's not like they can't match up to some of Nintendo's old heavy hitters.

You can argue that Nintendo has the top tier of the console to itself, but there are lots of non garbage games on the Switch that sell very well from third parties.

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cikame

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They aren't the only ones who do it, Sony put out their own extremely polished AAA games, they decided to put the time and budget into premium exclusive experiences and so do Nintendo.

I think there's also something to be said for having a weaker console and working within those limitations, they aren't throwing around 4K textures and modern resource intensive lighting and effects to create the most groundbreaking blockbuster hits like... Immortals of Aveum... When you work within limits you have to be creative both technically and artistically, it's easy to go off the rails when you're doing too much, those open world Zelda games are a good example of getting away with it but there's plenty of criticisms with the recent Pokemon games, Game Freak SHOULD be able to match Nintendo's first party quality but their yearly release schedule doesn't give them much time at all.

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mellotronrules

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@cikame said:

plenty of criticisms with the recent Pokemon games, Game Freak SHOULD be able to match Nintendo's first party quality but their yearly release schedule doesn't give them much time at all.

yeah, this is an interesting point of comparison to Nintendo's true 1st-party output. granted it still isn't close to an apples-to-apples comparison, and there's some obvious external factors that prevent Pokemon from ever having that patient, self-reflective dev process we've heard about from recent Nintendo games...

...but seriously what the hell. Game Freak feels like something in-between 1st- and 3rd-party (2nd party?), Wikipedia tells me they are HQ'd inside a building with a bunch of Nintendo offices, and they still put out stuff that feels like it's barely getting by.

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bigsocrates

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@mellotronrules: Game Freak is a separate company but it co-owns Pokemon with Nintendo so they are deeply enmeshed. But Game Freak does put out games for other systems from time to time. Little Town Hero and Giga Wrecker Alt are examples. So you can say that Pokemon is a second party franchise (second party being when a platform owner commissions games from an outside company for that platform) but it's more complex because Nintendo co-owns the Pokemon property.

As for why the games release as technical messes...have you seen how much money they make? Now how much more would they make if they were polished compared to the time and cost of actually polishing them.

There's just no real financial incentive The fanbase accepts the jank and buys anyway.

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mellotronrules

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There's just no real financial incentive The fanbase accepts the jank and buys anyway.

yeah fair enough. i suppose the case for tightening up Pokemon would be brand association- i don't think it's a stretch to say Little Joey 6-pack (of Capri Sun) thinks Pokemon comes from the Mario company before Game Freak- therefore it behooves them to put out quality. but then again kids tolerate junky products all the time- and you're right, there's no force that will financially incentivize that.

some brands are just untouchable i suppose.

an interesting thought exercise is how technically messy Nintendo could allow things like Mariokart or Mario Bros. to get before they're financially punished- and the answer i'd wager is likely waaay messier than most would consider tolerable.

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bigsocrates

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@mellotronrules: Little Joey LOVES Pikachu and barely notices the jank. I don't think it's true that kids tolerate total junk (I loved the Karate Kid but could tell the game was no good when others pointed it out) but things like technical performance just don't factor into their enjoyment as much. And a lot of Pokemon's audience are older people dedicated to the franchise above all else. And the games aren't bad from a design perspective so it's not like it's a garbage product. It's just that when you want that Pikachu directly into your veins you will tolerate some very dirty frame rates and glitches to get it.

I think that Mario Kart and Mario Brothers are different because they need to not just sell as games but sell the system to people who may be on the fence. Pokemon fans are Pokemon fans. It's not like a new Pokemon game being good or bad is going to draw in filthy casuals. But Mario Kart is the ultimate filthy casual game and if someone plays the new Mario Kart at their buddy's house and it's not great, or they see a bad review, that might stop them from buying the system. Its attach rate is unreal.

Granted Mario Kart 8 is fantastic and it couldn't make the Wii U a thing, but the Wii U had so many problems in conception and marketing that even a very strong Mario Kart couldn't save it. Meanwhile Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was instrumental in the Switch's success.

Mario Kart and SMB would still sell even if janky, but they wouldn't drive system sales, which is a big part of their purpose.

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TurtleFish

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@judaspete said:

Games that are less technically complex than most. Even stuff like TotK and Mario Odyssey aren't as involved as most other AAA games today.

Don't underestimate the complexity of Nintendo games. Just because something isn't as graphically complicated doesn't create dependencies in other areas -- in fact, one could argue that the resources that are spent in graphical fidelity are spent in other areas with Nintendo games. Most Nintendo platformers have the most polished controls of that game type. Tears of the Kingdom's build system and physics is a sight to behold, and hideously complicated. But the average gamer doesn't see it, because of the polish.

It's the contradiction of making in general -- the better you do it, the harder it is, but the easier it looks to somebody from outside the field.

Why does Nintendo do consistently well? Here's my opinion, without any inside knowledge (my uncle does NOT work at Nintendo), but, based on experience in the software development field.

Nintendo's polish, starts with the fact they're a single platform developer as others have pointed out. Multi-platform development is HARD. And so time that other companies have to spend on multi-platform, Nintendo can spend on features and polish. The relative lack of power is a factor (as I said above, if you're not making / rigging textures in 4K and dealing with the ramifications thereof, you've got time to work on other things), but not having to worry about potential compatibility problems between drivers, hardware, etc, is a huge time saver.

Secondly, they have the money (and, therefore, the time) to do it right if they want. The old project management triangle goes "quick, good, cheap" - pick two. Most software companies have to pick 'quick and cheap' because they don't have the cash reserves to spend on polish. At some point, they have to ship, because they NEED revenue coming in. Nintendo, because first party is literally all in-house, have the cash reserves to take as long as they want. A normal game company delaying a game for a year could be life or death for that company. Nintendo delaying a game for a year is business as usual, because they're sitting on massive cash reserves, and they're willing to use them for game development.

And thirdly (and probably most importantly), their leadership isn't so concerned about short term bottom line to maximize short term revenue at the expense of everything else. There's still a group at Nintendo that wants to make really good games, and they've got enough buy-in from the C-suite to get the resources and the time.

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GTxForza

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I can say, that each development studio for Nintendo's first-party games, hired a bunch of professional programmers so they could easily eliminate as many bugs as possible.

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BullLee

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I'd wager the main reason would be that Nintendo games are tailor-made for one, maybe two sets of distinct, in-house hardware. Not having to account for multiple major systems and configurations (XBox, Playstation and, the horror, PC with its myriad of setups) means a focus and an amount of time saved that can be put to use for additional QA and polish.

Also, their games tend to focus more on a stylized art, ehm, style and less on pushing production tech and hardware with photorealism and the newest bells and whistles. (The old dichotomy between Graphics: Technical and Graphics: Styyyyle).

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Justin258

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I disagree with the idea that some Nintendo games aren't as complex as other AAA games. Visual splendor and technical complexity aren't the same thing. Remember that a processor has to process everything happening in a game, not just all the pretty graphics, and sometimes that can get pretty complex or difficult, and sometimes in ways you don't expect. Tears of the Kingdom, in particular, is kind of absurd when it comes to the number of physical objects and AI running around that have to interact with each other.

With that set aside, let's focus on several different factors. These have been touched on in this thread already, to some degree, but I'm going to bring them up anyway.

Firstly, they made the hardware that these games are running on. Not only did they make the hardware, they need the games made for that hardware to be in tip-top physical shape. I don't have any inside baseball on Nintendo's inner workings or anything, but I'd bet every dollar I have that the hardware and all of its quirks and issues and any tips and tricks are all documented in excruciating, precise detail. All of that documentation wouldn't mean anywhere near as much if Nintendo didn't have a team, or multiple teams, of people who are there solely as consultants on the hardware for developers. People whose entire job is to help developers figure out how to do something specifically on the Switch's hardware. Third party developers designing for multiple systems are often only trying to sell a game, not a system, and thus they need to get that game out ASAP - they can get a game out, get an initial surge of sales for that sweet, sweet revenue, then fix it as time goes on and get another surge of sales when the game is finally, you know, finished.

Secondly, Nintendo needs these games to sell hardware. Game launches are still big events for Nintendo, so when something finally comes out and people get to play it for the first time, some of those people will want to buy a console with it. Tears of the Kingdom got a special edition console, and I bet a lot of people bought a console when they bought TOTK (or Mario Odyssey, or Fire Emblem, or whatever else). It wouldn't be anywhere near as big an event if Nintendo games didn't work at launch. It's important for them to spend the time and money and energy necessary to make sure this launch is good and not marred by angry internet people spreading the word that their game is a buggy mess.

Thirdly, Nintendo has a reputation. No, really, there's a joke-post above that is just the Nintendo Seal of Quality and that's funny, but also it's one hundred percent true. Despite all odds, despite bucking all trends of growing technology and 4K TVs and 60FPS games and so on and so forth, Nintendo remains one of the most valuable names in the world, and their games are exceptionally well-respected by virtually everyone. There are people out there who will eat up anything, anything, that Nintendo puts out, in pretty much the exact same way that there are people out there who will eat up Studio Ghibli stuff, or Disney's animated stuff, or how any major media group has people who will just stick by it no matter what. There are people who have been buying Nintendo stuff since the 80's and will continue to do so until they die just because it has the name Nintendo on it. Having such a fanbase is incredibly valuable, and likely a major part of the reason why Nintendo has been able to just keep on trucking outside of industry trends, doing whatever they want to do.

Fourthly, that reputation allows Nintendo to have its choice of anyone, anyone, to work for them. If they find someone fresh out of college who is very promising, they can just offer that person a job and almost any one of them would immediately grab the opportunity and hold it like it's a lottery ticket. When you have the best of the best working for you, you can do incredible things seemingly without effort while everyone else struggles to achieve half of what you achieve.

And, finally, finally, the last answer is simply "good project management". Nintendo has been doing this for a long time. They know how to manage their projects. I said above that they probably have absolutely incredible internal documentation of their hardware, their tools, their resources, etc. - they almost certainly have equivalent documentation for how to manage a years-long project involving dozens or hundreds of people, like Tears of the Kingdom or Mario Odyssey.

---------------------------------------------

None of this means that Nintendo cannot fail, by the way. That 3D Pokemon game on the Switch was regularly the butt of jokes all over the internet for a long time. It might still be, in certain corners. They've always had recent failures, and not just commercial failures but also critical ones, and ones where their fanbase has been collectively disappointed and angry. Still, most of the time, you can buy a game from them and get a high quality, finished product that doesn't need months or years worth of updates to work like you expected it to at launch.

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ThePanzini

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#20  Edited By ThePanzini

@justin258: Tears of the Kingdom had five years development and is by far Nintendo's most complex title. Most of Nintendo's games are made with far fewer staff and in a shorter period of time, the two outliers are Breath of the Wild & Tears of the Kingdom which had much larger teams. An open-world title is going to require more people and time over a 2D platformer most of Nintendo's game are not as complex, it's easier to manage 300 than 1000, that alone would be a big difference.

Tears of the Kingdom 1,408 people (1,148 professional roles, 260 thanks) with 1,415 credits.

Breath of the Wild 946 people (914 professional roles, 32 thanks

Mario Odyssey 341 people (280 professional roles, 61 thanks) with 376 credits.

Mario Wonder 435 people (399 professional roles, 36 thanks)

AC Valhalla 5,908 people (5,713 professional roles, 195 thanks) with 6,109 credits.

Dead Space 2023 1,971 people (1,909 professional roles, 62 thanks) with 2,020 credits.

Starfield 4,038 people (3,903 professional roles, 135 thanks) with 4,409 credits.

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SethMode

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@thepanzini: Looking at credits is all well and good for needed recognition for time spent on a product but I find it very uncompelling on its own as some measure of what game is complex and what isn't. This just totally throws out individual skill, workplace environment, management structures, project goals and organization, not to mention no accounting for what may or may not be done by secure employees vs contract employees, outsourcing, etc...

I'm not saying you're wrong, necessarily, because I honestly don't know what games are more complex and what aren't when comparing something like Assassin's Creed Valhalla to Tears of the Kingdom, especially "under the hood", but I do feel just going by raw numbers from game credits isn't a very effective method for determining anything other than who deserves credit for work done on the project.

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bigsocrates

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@sethmode: One of the major things that raw credits does not tell you is how long the person spent on the game. Ultimately what you're trying to get at is person hours (which itself is not determinative because a lot of person hours can be spent on super detailed textures and models that aren't "complex" from a bug perspective) and number of people is useful (if the team is 15 then you know they didn't have that many hours to spend) but can be inflated with contract employees who might have spent 100 hours churning out some art vs a full time employee who might have spent 8000 hours over the course of a game's development.

I think that honestly the only actual people who can judge this are developers who can guestimate how difficult something is vs something else and look at code and see if it's elegant or not. Many developers like Youtuber Modern Vintage Gamer (who also does dev work) are consistently impressed by Nintendo and what it gets out of the Switch, so that's at least something.

I think we can all agree that something like Mario Wonder is less technically impressive than something like Tears of the Kingdom but Tears of the Kingdom vs Valhalla is much tougher because you're looking at complex physics interactions vs just complicated geometry and lots of graphical effects. As a lay person I have no idea how to judge. Also Valhalla's code can be sloppier because it has a lot more processing power and RAM to work with.

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ThePanzini

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@sethmode: Maybe your view of complex is a little different but Breath of the Wild & Tears of the Kingdom having vast worlds requiring assest streaming and lighting with a day/night cycle is more challanging. And Nintendo often doesn't have lengthly cut scenes and heavy narrative elements in its games.

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SethMode

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#24  Edited By SethMode

@thepanzini: This response is phrased as if you're refuting something I said, but I can't tell what. I made no claims or comparisons about complexity aside from "credits are probably not a good measure". Did you mean to reply to someone else?

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ThePanzini

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@sethmode: Maybe I misread, but I do think credits they are a good indicator in comparison to Nintendo's other games.

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SethMode

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#26  Edited By SethMode

@thepanzini: How so? Is there an aspect that I'm missing for what credits on a game tell us? Maybe my post wasn't super clear, but even still I think @bigsocrates did an even better job. There are so, so many unspoken things with the statement "X people worked on Y" that I don't think even explains how a game gets made, let alone the complexity of it.

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ThePanzini

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#27  Edited By ThePanzini

@sethmode: Breath of the Wild & Tears of the Kingdom are Nintendo's most complex titles just on a technical level of creating and simulating a large open world, requiring a lot more people to build. Nintendo had 300 full time dev's on both games with a much longer dev time as well. Breath of the Wild & Tears of the Kingdom not only had a ton more people compared to other Nintendo's games but the number of people is similar to other AAA dev like Sony etc.

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Undeadpool

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The reasons are probably about as varied as the discussion, but I think the main one is: Nintendo first-party develops for The Nintendo Switch. So while companies like Activision, EA, and Ubisoft might have 4X the staff on a project, a lot of that staff is going to be ensuring the game "works" on 3 consoles plus any number of PC setups, each with moving parts that could cause the game to be completely unplayable if they interact with the wrong thing the wrong way at the wrong time.

It's why the complaint of "just fix bugs" isn't really a valid criticism: in fixing some bugs, others can crop up because now the game is interacting with the hardware differently, but with Nintendo, they only need to focus on one thing.

They're also part of the vanguard of "graphics are fine, the hardware arms race is actually worse for consumers" as one of the reasons people love and still buy their games is: the graphics are often stylized rather than "realistic," so not only do they age well, giving game sales a longer tail, but they're far, far, far, far less intensive to develop. Again, you CAN look at a credits list, but realize how many of those people are JUST working on art assets or localization.

Plus they don't have to work around trying to bilk every single cent out of every single customer and still make the game fun. Remember: for most major videogame companies, they want profit first and everything else second. Not saying Nintendo doesn't do shady shit to keep their coffers lined, I'm saying EA, Activision, and Ubisoft are so-so-so-so-SO much further down that particular pit.