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Nintendo's Miyamoto: All this talk about our earnings is "silly"

Nintendo's Miyamoto: All this talk about our earnings is "silly"

Wed 12 Jun 2013 5:50am GMT / 1:50am EDT / 10:50pm PDT
PublishingDesignE3 2013

The father of Mario stands by Satoru Iwata as CEO, explains why both 3DS and Wii U stumbled at launch, and hints at a Wii U Zelda reveal this year

After a busy morning in which Shigeru Miyamoto joined other Nintendo developers to greet an assembled audience of journalists, encouraging them to check out Nintendo's upcoming Wii U games, including Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, The Wonderful 101 and more, GamesIndustry International had the pleasure of sitting down with the father of Mario, Donkey Kong and Zelda to discuss Nintendo's E3 showing, why we didn't see a brand-new Zelda for Wii U, the Wii U's sales struggles, and whether he feels some of the same pressures as Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata when it comes to the business side of things.

Creatively, however, Miyamoto, who serves as the general manager of Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development group, feels he still has plenty to offer. Although he joked that he may just one day "fall over," the veteran designer stressed that he's not "actively thinking about retirement." Our full Q&A with the Nintendo legend follows below. Translation was provided by Nintendo's Bill Trinen.

Q: There's been a lot of talk about the other game companies here at E3, with a focus on Microsoft and Sony yesterday. Nintendo chose to not have its own press conference, to concentrate on the media coming to play the games, but what have you seen from the competition that you found interesting, or have you even paid attention to them?

Obviously we've been coming to E3 for many years now and one thing we always try to think of when we come to E3 is: how can we show what's really unique about Nintendo? What you described about [the media being invited to play games] was really an effort to do something that was different and show what is truly unique about Nintendo through the games, because if all we're doing is the exact same things the other companies are doing, you just all start to look the same and I really believe we have a lot of unique things to offer.

Q: Yesterday Sony announced a $399 price point for the PS4 and the Wii U has struggled a bit with its sales at the $349 price point. Does Sony's announcement affect how Nintendo will look at its Wii U price? It would appear like the respective values of the platforms are not truly balanced...

"Development on the new Wii U Zelda game, we've pretty much determined our direction on that and the teams are working hard on that. In fact, we actually did consider showing it at E3 this year"

We don't look at it as a competition in terms of price per se. Really, what we look at is we're providing a complete system in terms of the GamePad, the system and a complete environment that everyone can interact with and enjoy the benefits of. Certainly if you're a consumer - anytime you talk to a consumer about pricing, their answer is going to be, "Yes, I want to pay less." But we have to compete in terms of our uniqueness and what Nintendo does that's different from what the other systems have to offer. And as long as we do that, hopefully people will see the value of the system that we're offering with the GamePad and the fun and unique gameplay, but I really don't have anything that I can say at this point about what that may be in the future in terms of pricing.

Q: So Nintendo finally has a bunch of software coming for Wii U - it was a bit slow to build up from the launch - but it seems like Nintendo has some difficulty in lining up its development teams to bring out compelling software on time for hardware launches. Why did Nintendo struggle in the same way with Wii U as it did when it launched the 3DS? If the development teams you oversee know that a hardware launch is coming, should some of them be pushing to make sure the games are ready on time?

Well, obviously if you speak in terms of simple math you could say that Nintendo should just multiply its development team staff by four times and then everything would be fine, but unfortunately things aren't quite that easy. Our focus is always on delivering the highest quality content, and simply increasing the development team size isn't going to allow you to achieve the level of quality that we strive for. You really have to kind of bring those people up gradually and help teach them how to develop games in order to achieve that consistent quality level. So that's one challenge that we're always engaging with and one we're progressing on.

1

The other is a little bit coincidental in that the hardware jump from DS to 3DS was quite big in terms of the difference between those two [platforms] and it just so happens that that same scale of jump happened from Wii to Wii U, consecutively with those two pieces of hardware. And any time you have a big jump in the hardware technology it certainly takes the teams time to learn that and adjust their development environment in order to adapt to those big changes. So I think gradually as we're adding more staff and we're increasing our capabilities... and in the future as the hardware generation change doesn't result in significant change in the hardware environment or capabilities of the hardware, then what ends up happening is you have a smoother transition, as you saw from the Gamecube to Wii.

Q: The one game many of us were anticipating to be announced today and that many fans have been looking for is a brand new Zelda on Wii U, apart from the Wind Waker HD makeover. Perhaps this is a better question for Aonuma-san, but why haven't we heard about a new Wii U Zelda?

So it certainly is a better question for Mr. Aonuma but we are working on a new Wii U Zelda ,as we do whenever we work on a new hardware system. Development on the new Wii U Zelda game, we've pretty much determined our direction on that and the teams are working hard on that. In fact, we actually did consider showing it at E3 this year but we were worried that if we showed the new Wii U Zelda game then that would attract all of the focus, and really what we want people to be aware of and pay attention to here at E3 are the playable games like Pikmin 3 that we have coming in the immediate future, because a lot of fun is with the games that are coming out this year. So that's why we decided not to show it this year at E3, but it's certainly something people can look forward to.

Of course, as I'm sure you're aware E3 used to be the place where you made all of your big announcements but as we're seeing more and more, particularly with the advantages we have with the internet, we're able to make announcements really at any time. So the other thing we didn't want to do was go through all the news here at E3 - we wanted to be able to have some news to continue to share with consumers over time.

Q: So does that mean Nintendo will tell us more about the new Wii U Zelda later this year?

I think so, maybe. [Laughs] Maybe after we've seen enough people enjoying The Wind Waker HD, then we'll think about sharing something with them about the new Wii U Zelda.

"I'm not actively thinking about retirement, but the thing is you look at my age and you have to naturally take into account that a time may come when I'm no longer there. And particularly at my age now, it wouldn't be strange if I were to just one day fall over"

Q: One thing we've repeatedly heard a lot of people in the industry say, whether analysts or executives, is that Nintendo would be better off making games on all platforms. Why do they have to keep on making hardware? Wouldn't they be able to be just as creative with their IP on tablets, and smartphones, and the PC. Nintendo could expand to a massive user base across the world. Would you see any advantage to doing that? And even if you ignore the business side, creatively would making a game on a smartphone or tablet appeal to you?

There's two ways to look at it - one is from the business side and the other is from the creative side. From the business side, we really look at the fact that we have not only the software side of the business but also the hardware side of the business as sort of our sphere, as being very important to us. On the creative side, I think what people may not realize is we're able to design the hardware the way we want so that our creative teams are able to work with that hardware design and create a piece of hardware that can meet our designers in order to create the games we want to create. So without that hardware side, then on the creative side we're no longer able to do that. And so, from the multiplatform standpoint we do see a lot of developers who are developing the main game on a console and then they'll have another team or group that's working on another version or a different type of gameplay within that same franchise on different platforms. And so you end up having all of these different teams working essentially on what amounts to the one main game and the derivative versions of it, whereas at Nintendo what we're able to do is we're able to focus on the one title for the one platform and the development team is then able to move on to the next thing. So we see some pretty strong environmental advantages from that standpoint creatively.

Q: One of your contemporaries here in the US, Sid Meier, has talked to me about how much more actual design he can fit into a mobile game compared to a console game. He doesn't have to worry about presentation as much and can iterate more on design and gameplay. Do you have a different view of mobile than Meier?

I guess I have a slightly different line of thinking, but to me the question really comes down to: what is the role of a game designer? My feeling is that the game designer's role is to create fun and exciting new interactive experiences for people to play, but what we're seeing is... as the graphics get more and more complex and they build up the production around the gameplay, then they tend to try to sell the game based more on the production rather than what the actual experience is. As a result of that you end up with the meaning of game design being weakened. Whereas from my perspective, as long as we're focused on creating that core and essential gameplay then certainly I think with a game like Pikmin 3, it's fine if you're able to build up production value around that as long as you do it in a way where that core, fun, gameplay element still remains the essential part of what that game ends up being.

Q: I understand that you oversee a lot of game projects but you're much more involved in Pikmin 3. Do you miss that? Do you want to be more involved in the game design of key projects more often?

So one of the things I want to do is be a little more clear in terms of my involvement in the projects. There are certainly projects I'm deeply involved in and one of those as an example is the museum guide we did for The Louvre in France. It was done on a Nintendo 3DS. That was one I was deeply involved in and Pikmin 3 is another. So there are the games I'm deeply involved in and then there are the games that I'm sort of keeping an eye on. So it's two different categories. Particularly any time we're doing something very fresh or new I want to be deeply involved in the design of those games.

Q: You've talked a little bit in interviews during the last couple years about retirement. Is that at all on your mind now, and whenever that day comes, do you feel confident that the designers who've been working with you will be able to continue making innovative products for Nintendo the way you have?

The one thing I want to say is I'm not actively thinking about retirement, but the thing is you look at my age and you have to naturally take into account that a time may come when I'm no longer there. And particularly at my age now, it wouldn't be strange if I were to just one day fall over. [Laughs]

So what we're doing is we're approaching it from the stance that there may come a time when I'm not there and then the big question is: how do you ensure that you've trained the young staff in a way that will allow things to continue? And so that's why we've been talking about the fact that sometimes when I'm working on a project with the teams, I say, “I'm not going to do anything; you have to do it all.” It's really to try to push them to prepare themselves for when I may not be there. Also going forward, the additional approach that we'll take is really more of me clearly defining the games that I'm deeply involved in versus just the ones that I'm keeping an eye on. Certainly, I think in the last few years we've done a really good job of raising up the younger designers and helping put them in a position that they'll be able to carry things on even if I end up not being there anymore.

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Q: Well, I certainly hope you don't fall over!

Me too! [Laughs]

Q: You've achieved so much in your career already, but do you have any current goals or aspirations? Maybe there's something you haven't been able to achieve yet that you'd very much like to?

There aren't any specific goals that I'm working towards and I say that because having been in the industry for 30 years, much of what's happened is something that 30 years ago I never imagined would have occurred. So instead, the way that I perceive it is really being ready for that next wave and just seeing how good of a job or how actively I can dive into that wave when it comes and ride it and still come out on the other side. And it's with each new wave that I stay focused on really trying to maintain an active role in how things are developing. So I don't really have a clear end goal that I'm measuring myself against - it's really more about riding the waves.

For me, it's less about doing what other people are doing and really more about trying to see what I can do that's different from everyone else, because entertainment is really about how can you surprise people with things that they aren't expecting. If you're doing the same thing as everyone else, then it won't be surprising for people. So it's always to me an exercise in how do I find something that's new and unique that no one's done before and bring that forward and present it in a way that will surprise them, and just repeating that process.

Q: The marketplace has changed a lot since the Wii was first launched. Developers now have lots of other options and more open platforms. Innovating on those platforms may be easier for some, but how do you feel about innovation now at Nintendo? Has it become more challenging to innovate since you launched the first Wii?

"So all of this talk of 'Oh is Nintendo going to hit its numbers? Is Mr. Iwata responsible?' and all these discussions I think are just silly ones to have because Mr. Iwata is managing our company and I don't think there's anyone better to manage it than him."

We don't really look at it as being challenging. I think where the challenge lies is with all of the hardware using relatively similar technology. Then what you end up with is a lot of the different companies really competing from a production standpoint; and the more you start to focus on making the graphics spectacular or making the sounds spectacular the more the things seem to look and feel very similar. So for us, the challenge is always what are we doing that's different and unique and how can we differentiate ourselves from what the other companies are doing? That's something we instill in our development teams and so that's really where we're putting our focus, and we find that for us, that process of innovating by finding things that no one else has done is actually quite fun.

Q: A lot of that innovation has come within existing franchises, and no one can blame Nintendo for repeatedly going back to its incredibly popular IP, but at the same time there is pressure from some people who want to know why Nintendo isn't creating brand-new characters and IP. So creatively, when you're starting up new projects, how do you decide whether to build a new IP or to try and innovate something new within one of Nintendo's existing properties?

So this is actually a discussion that I think is tricky to balance, and certainly internally at Nintendo we have people on the teams who say, “Wouldn't this be better if we created a new IP around it?” But to me, the question of new IP really isn't whether or not [you have a new character]... I look at it from [the perspective of] what is the gameplay experience in the game you're playing? For a lot of people, they would say if you take an old game and wrap a new character around it, that's a new IP, but that game is still old, and the experience is still old. So what we're doing is we're always looking at what type of new gameplay experience can we create, and that's the same for whether we're playing with one of our existing IPs or we're doing something new.

Pikmin 3 is a good example; the Pikmin characters were something that were born out of a new gameplay idea when we first came up with that game. We created the gameplay idea first and we decided that the best characters suited for that gameplay idea were Pikmin characters. That's where the Pikmin IP came from. Similarly, if you look at our booth here, we're showing it as a showcase of all of Nintendo's great characters, but in each and every one of those games the gameplay experience is what's new. So from my perspective, it's not a question of just how can we create a new character and wrap it around an old game and put that out and call it a new IP. It's always about starting with a new gameplay idea and a new experience that's unique from an interactive standpoint and then finding a character that's best suited with that. In some cases, it may be an existing character, and in some cases it may lead us to a new IP at some point in the future.

Q: With Nintendo missing its sales forecasts lately, do you personally feel some of the business pressures? There's been some talk about Mr. Iwata and whether he can remain the CEO - does that ultimately affect you and your teams in terms of feeling like you have to do better to save his job?

Well, first of all, the entertainment industry is one that is inherently unstable and if people decide that they no longer need entertainment anymore then there's no way for you to make money off of that. Because of the waves in the entertainment industry and the way the cycles move, personally I feel that aiming for a specific numerical goal is almost silly, and instead our focus should be on doing our best to create something that's new and unique. So all of this talk of “Oh is Nintendo going to hit its numbers? Is Mr. Iwata responsible?” and all these discussions I think are just silly ones to have because Mr. Iwata is managing our company and I don't think there's anyone better to manage it than him.

So for me, I'm really focused on creating the most fun and unique experiences I can so that the entertainment can appeal to a very broad audience, and we're having fun doing that. So certainly I think there are other industries where I think their chance to appeal to a broad audience has been lost, but I still think within our industry we have a lot of opportunity to do that.

21 Comments

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

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Excellent interview and I'd hope some take this as a sign that Nintendo isn't as dead as they'd like them to be, nor headed to platforms outside the ones they create.

Posted:A year ago

#1

James Brightman
Editor in Chief

221 248 1.1
Thanks Greg! Now I'm off to bed, to get ready for another day of E3 in a few hours!

Posted:A year ago

#2

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
Popular Comment
Great interview. I love Miyamoto's insights here and I feel sorry for the guy, he's often used as a stick to beat Nintendo with, as a sign of everything that keeps Nintendo behind the times, but his core ideas, that the game mechanic and new ideas comes first and the IP and production comes after, are what have made, and will continue to make Nintendo distinctive and successful. I can't help but feel in the aftermath of the 3D World reveal, though, that some people within Nintendo itself are losing sight of that in favour of hitting the numbers Miyamoto himself deems as silly.

Then again, Nintendo aren't Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, they are a business, and those silly numbers have to be hit.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,130 1,038 0.5
@ Daniel: True, true... but at what cost? Forecasting and crystal balling works against some mainstream games to the point that they're becoming or have become over-focus tested to the point of blandness. While "fun" in bullet point areas, many are made to meet Metacritic aggregates, not be games that do something to move a genre or the medium forward much. Granted, EVERY game can't (nor shouldn't) be "innovative" at all - but it would e nice to see more new IP and gamers molded to accept changes to the formula that aren't incremental and/or just shine up the visuals a bit more.

Thank goodness for Quantic Dream, Naughty Dog, a bunch of indies and folks making stuff that still makes me smile and do double takes when I see it and play it.

That said, Hell, I actually liked the all-in kitchen sink cray-cray that was Resident Evil 6, but it was absolutely destroyed in reviews partially because it was so nuts to pack in every idea that must have hit that whiteboard. But it sold what, 4.9 million copies and STILL "failed" because of those scores and the too high sales targets set for it? Man, that's just rough on a few fronts.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Ken Varley
Owner & Freelance Developer, Writer

40 30 0.8
I know I get slated for my latest opinions about Nintendo. I love 'em, and the industry needs that freshness and innovation. But, and its a big BUT, they need to start matching the other 2 power wise.

This doesn't mean they need to stop innovating. They could offer the same richness of software as the other 2 in addition to their IPs, Mario, Zelda, Pokemon etc. which could be a deciding factor in peoples eyes.

ATM, they have lost that software catalogue richness. Also, £300 for hardware that is on par with consoles released 7 years ago, was a mistake. I remember when it was Sega and Nintendo head to head. Nintendo can still be there, if they take that leap.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Ralph Tricoche
IT Professional

29 58 2.0
I respect this man and like Nintendo's products. But the fact remains that Nintendo needs some new, fresh IP's. As versatile as Mario is Id like to see 9 or 10 new ideas out there. Not every genre is being address by Nintendo and there is ample space to see their brand of game making in genres other than platforming. Look what they did with Pikimen.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,136 914 0.8
@Ken Varley

Funnily enough, though I feel Nintendo have made a mistake architecture wise for the last two generations now, I still think that the console is powerful enough to pump out beautiful, innovative games. Especially now it supports programmable shaders and high def resolutions.

The design doesn't help multi-platform either (a bit more work in getting next gen engines ported over) but if they had enough innovative software out there as well as a price fit for the console then it wouldn't matter as much... That we're waiting for.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
I can easily mention more than 10 or even 20 games Id want for both 3Ds and WiiU. Were are they losing? Bayonetta 2, Sonic:The Lost World, Xenoblade 2, Mario Kart 8, Rayman Legends, Super Smash Bros, Windwaker HD, New Zelda WiiU (coming soon), Batman Arkham Origins, Assasins Creed 4, Splinter Cel:Black List, I mean seriously what is so bad about them? That they didnt have a flashy press conference? At the end of the day, they had the games and great announcements. They have my money. Nintendo is sitting on a large pile of cash, largely because of there success as a business. Because they make hardware that sells at a prophit. They may not make as much, but they make profits, they keep there company a proportionate size relative to those profits, they dont shove as much money as microsoft or apple, but they maintain a healthy business model, where they can stumble and still have leg room to solve those issues and keep functioning.

Its incredible that both tomb raider and Resident Evil 6 sold over 4 million copies in just a few weeks. Yet they were considered failures. Bioshock Infinite sells less than that in the same time and its considered a success. A business model that relies on metacritic scores and unrealistic sales expectations is hardly a healthy business approach. How many games sell 12 million copies? Very few.

At the end of the day, Nintendo will have the games, Im super hyped about many of them. What is the problem? They arent selling as much as SONY and Microsoft. But they arent losing as much as those companies either.

Finally, who can say that this business approac is wrong?
So for me, I'm really focused on creating the most fun and unique experiences I can so that the entertainment can appeal to a very broad audience, and we're having fun doing that. So certainly I think there are other industries where I think their chance to appeal to a broad audience has been lost, but I still think within our industry we have a lot of opportunity to do that.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 12th June 2013 5:34pm

Posted:A year ago

#8
"...silly rabbit, Tricks are not for gashi!"

Posted:A year ago

#9

Majora
artisan | freelance editor

9 1 0.1
Thanks for this interview, it was really interesting to read. :)

The more I learn about Miyamoto's philosophy in making games, and Nintendo's one in general, the more they seem wasted to me, in this world full of people who only look at graphics and think videogames should be similar to movies.
On another hand, luckily there are still many people who, on the contrary, understand what are the core, unique characteristic of the videogame media: not presentation, not plot, but gameplay and interaction. Videogames can narrate; however, they aren't a narrative media but as a interactive one.

I'm still excited after all the Nintendo news disclosed at this E3, and I can't wait to play all their new games.
They are late on some projects, but people maybe forgot that Nintendo recently restructured pretty much every one of their developing teams, and they built a new building in Kyoto to better handle the developing of future games and hardware. Maybe, Miyamoto should have reminded it during this interview, anyway I'm patient: Wii U had a slow start, yet by combining the motion controls of Wii with the double screen capabilities of DS and 3DS, it's the best console out there without doubts, if you look at it from an interactive standpoint. I'll say it again: games are an interactive media, and not just little more than graphics demos with story-centric gameplay.

I'm not saying all non-Nintendo videogames are like that, of course; what I'm saying is that Nintendo clearly knows what videogames are (or should be), while many others often forget about the most important things. On the long run, it will show.

That said, I was moved by the way Miyamoto can talk so casually about the time when he will not be around anymore; he is relatively old, but (as I wrote in his Pikmin 3 video on Nintendo's YouTube channel) he has the eyes and the smile of a child; in a way, he is already immortal.
What I wish the most is for the younger developers at Nintendo to learn from him as much as they can, because game designers like him--artists like him--are rare treasures.

Lastly, I would like to add that Iwata deserves more respect; he clearly is a really honest and capable man who is fully dedicated to the job he does, which is also a passion for him. Let's give him credit for all the good he did for his company, and accept that he isn't perfect (because nobody is), yet he always gives his best... Or so it seems to me, at least.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Majora on 13th June 2013 6:37am

Posted:A year ago

#10

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

200 476 2.4
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"As the graphics get more and more complex and they build up the production around the gameplay, then they tend to try to sell the game based more on the production rather than what the actual experience is."
"Entertainment is really about how can you surprise people with things that they aren't expecting. If you're doing the same thing as everyone else, then it won't be surprising for people."
Made my day.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
@ John Arnold

If it really is the way you say it is, then Im glad my assumption was wrong. I really look foward to Nintendo being succesful. At least they have some leg room to figure things out. They are sitting on an 80billion dollar cushion. Incase they stumble and fall they can get back up.

Posted:A year ago

#12

John Arnold
Partner

28 44 1.6
If it really is the way you say it is, then Im glad my assumption was wrong. I really look foward to Nintendo being succesful. At least they have some leg room to figure things out. They are sitting on an 80billion dollar cushion. Incase they stumble and fall they can get back up.
No it's okay, I think my comment was a little too exaggerated, I defintely agree with some of your points though. Nintendo is having a great success with the 3ds and It should keep them in good shape against Sony and Microsoft. What I really meant to say was that Nintendo has a lot of money in the bank so it's very unlikely at this stage for them to go the path of SEGA which in my opinion is just the media's sensation.

I think we should be more worried about Sony's Vita than the Wii U because it needs that third party push from developers.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Arnold on 13th June 2013 9:26pm

Posted:A year ago

#13

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
Honestly, when Shigeru Miyamoto speaks, I cant help but to be inspired.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
@ Greg

Sorry, I didn't check back here and so missed your reply. I largely agree with your point: "but it would e nice to see more new IP and gamers molded to accept changes to the formula that aren't incremental and/or just shine up the visuals a bit more." and I firmly believe Nintendo can still do that. The fundamental point is that a new IP does not equal any changes to the actual gameplay mechanics or expectations of the genre, and at E3, plenty of new IP on display fit exactly into that category Miyamoto is defining. Same gameplay, different production dressed around it.

Now I worry about Nintendo simply playing it safe with Mario, where once there would be a generation defining and system defining title like 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy. If you look at every Mario platform game since 2006, bar the two Galaxy games, (so the "New" and "3D" series), the aesthetics, enemy sets, controls and mechanics are all the same. Nintendo, in one of their flagship series, are building the same production values on top of the same mechanics. Now I know, these titles are still fun, and there's still room for invention and creativity within the Mario template, largely because it is such an abstract template, but there is a real lack of innovation and boundary pushing there.

Like I said, past Mario games changed aesthetic styles, gameplay mechanics and templates from game to game. Where is the bold new aesthetic of Yoshi's Island, or the bold new world map structure of Super Mario World? Even Sunshine introduced a major new mechanic that affected the simple platforming of Mario, while utilising a bold Caribbean aesthetic and playground-level template that was removed from everything else Mario had done, while staying true to the star collecting structure of Mario 64. And look at the two Galaxy games--stunning displays of invention and creativity. What does Super Mario 3D World do? It takes an existing aesthetic, existing mechanics, and an existing template, and adds multiplayer. I don't doubt it will be good or excellent, but it doesn't match what you expect of a flagship Mario title, nor does it match up to Miyamoto's own philosophy.

My ultimate point is that you can keep that Mario production dressing. The same characters, universe, etc, but if you fail to build on that with new mechanics, a new template, and a new aesthetic, then you are failing at fulfilling what Miyamoto states you need to do in videogames. By that standard, Nintendo are failing with Mario where once they wouldn't. I understand the commercial pressure, but the creative loss alarms and disappoints me. I can only hope that once, or if, these titles turn Wii U around, Nintendo's invention within familiar production dressing and IP makes a welcome return.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 14th June 2013 11:27am

Posted:A year ago

#15

John Arnold
Partner

28 44 1.6
Now I worry about Nintendo simply playing it safe with Mario, where once there would be a generation defining and system defining title like 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy. If you look at every Mario platform game since 2006, bar the two Galaxy games, (so the "New" and "3D" series), the aesthetics, enemy sets, controls and mechanics are all the same. Nintendo, in one of their flagship series, are building the same production values on top of the same mechanics. Now I know, these titles are still fun, and there's still room for invention and creativity within the Mario template, largely because it is such an abstract template, but there is a real lack of innovation and boundary pushing there.
I think what Nintendo needs to do, is a repeat of super mario galaxy that blows you away. As you've said I completely agree with you and I think that they ought to stop re-using the formulas of the NEW and 3D and focos more on creating something entirely new like Super Mario Portal or Super Mario Powers which could be perfect ideas for entirely new Mario Games.

Although Nintendo loves being innovative with gamepads and controllers, I would really prefer it if they focosed on entirely new ideas before innovating. I think that they ought to bring Wart back and army just for a couple of games because let's be honest Bowser needs a break from series.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Arnold on 14th June 2013 12:26pm

Posted:A year ago

#16

Craig Bamford
Writer/Consultant

40 54 1.4
There's two ways to look at it - one is from the business side and the other is from the creative side. From the business side, we really look at the fact that we have not only the software side of the business but also the hardware side of the business as sort of our sphere, as being very important to us. On the creative side, I think what people may not realize is we're able to design the hardware the way we want so that our creative teams are able to work with that hardware design and create a piece of hardware that can meet our designers in order to create the games we want to create. So without that hardware side, then on the creative side we're no longer able to do that. And so, from the multiplatform standpoint we do see a lot of developers who are developing the main game on a console and then they'll have another team or group that's working on another version or a different type of gameplay within that same franchise on different platforms. And so you end up having all of these different teams working essentially on what amounts to the one main game and the derivative versions of it, whereas at Nintendo what we're able to do is we're able to focus on the one title for the one platform and the development team is then able to move on to the next thing. So we see some pretty strong environmental advantages from that standpoint creatively.
Absolutely, absolutely perfect. It shows the man actually understands Nintendo's strengths and weaknesses, rather than some half-baked "analyst" who just thinks "NINENDO GAMES ON SORNY INSTALL BASE!!!1", runs some numbers, and doesn't think to ask himself why Nintendo games have such a reputation for quality. It's the same secret Apple has: integration of hardware and software pays off.

The sad thing is that this isn't new. It isn't novel. It's been a known thing going back to the N64, if not the SNES. Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time were responsible for the N64's controller as much as the N64's controller was responsible for Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time. How on earth do so many otherwise-sensible people not get it? Do they really think that gaming started with the PS2?

Posted:A year ago

#17

Kareem Merhej
Designer

21 27 1.3
Hm. Well, Miyamoto - I love you, and I wish one day I have 1% of your creativity and 0.001% of your success, but I did find many of these answers disappointing.

It's hard to believe the Wii U wasn't rushed out to avoid direct competition with MS and Sony later this year. There's just no games. Could no Nintendo teams really be mobilized to release some games within the Wii U launch window? Maybe it's irrelevant. Maybe, over the next few years, the software will get there, and the console will be worthwhile, but it's a shadow right now. Meanwhile every few months I hear about a game on 3DS that *really* should have a Wii U analog. It's super frustrating.

The note about new IPs is pretty depressing too. There are no new IPs because there are no ideas for new mechanics? Did I read that right? Every idea someone at Nintendo has already fits into a preordained character set? Really? No *way*. NO WAY! That's terrifying. It can't be true. I'm more likely to believe there is a sign on the wall that reads NO NEW IPs, OK? I feel Nintendo is afraid of new IPs, moreso than any publisher/developer I can think of. They have their megaton hitters and they're more than happy to lean on them. What Nintendo needs to do, in my humble opinion, is bridge the game between the "we feel left out now" core games and "young gamers" most of their games are aimed at: a new IP can do that. Mario can't.

Anyways I'll close this out by saying Thanks Miyamoto: I owe you my imagination. But imagination needs seed ideas to grow. You're not giving me seeds anymore! Just plants.

Posted:A year ago

#18

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,232 2,161 1.0
Kareem, I think what he is saying is that once a gameplay mechanic has been imagined, they first approach its utilization by seeing what IP's they have that could best be married to the mechanic. If no IP already exists and the gameplay mechanic is strong enough to support the development of a new IP, they run with it.

Look at how differently many of their franchises play out? Mario has 2D and 3D iterations with ranges from 3D land to Galaxy. Metroid goes from 2D side scrolling to First Person Adventure. Star Fox goes from on-rails shooter to 3D platformer adventure to side scrolling action. Donkey Kong has had several gameplay iterations.

And when a new gameplay mechanic comes along that doesn't fir well enough you get Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Brain Age, XenoBlade, Endless Ocean, Pandora's Tower, Rhythm Heaven, among others. But do these generate the big media coverage of a new Zelda or Mario game? Not even close. Do you think Kart Racer would have gained the attention and/or sold as well as Mario Kart? Is the game worse off having Mario in the drivers seat rather than a new IP character? Not at all. So why not fir the established IP to the gameplay mechanic?

Posted:A year ago

#19

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,136 914 0.8
I don't completely agree with the above Jim but I see the logic from the perspective of making an 'easy success'.

I remember once Miyamoto said something along the lines of "I could make Halo" once but didn't want to, I'm saying this a bit out of context but he kind of insinuated that although people wanted Nintendo to make something new and different from the Nintendo norm they didn't really want to and instead focus on existing IP.

Thing is, why not make new universes the scale of Halo or Metroid? Why not establish the next big character rather than relying on the existing IP to drive sales? I don't think its a good excuse because there isn't an IP that couldn't take on most innovative gameplay mechanics we've seen pop up in the industry.

Nintendo have an incredible portfolio but why not expand it with the infinite funds and expertise. When gamers see media coverage like what we've seen over the past week, they don't just look for the next Gran Turismo or next Halo but something else.

Posted:A year ago

#20

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