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Miyamoto: We underestimated cost of HD development

Miyamoto: We underestimated cost of HD development

Fri 05 Jul 2013 9:03pm GMT / 5:03pm EDT / 2:03pm PDT
HardwareDevelopment

Software delays stem from Nintendo misjudging human resources needed for Wii U games

Last month, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata proclaimed that he doesn't much care what the competition is doing. The downside of such an approach might be that it's tougher to learn from competitors' mistakes. In a translated Q&A with investors published by Nintendo today, Nintendo senior managing director Shigeru Miyamoto explained that Wii U software delays have been aggravated by the demands of high-definition game development, a popular complaint among publishers after the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 launched in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

"When it comes to the scale of software development, Wii U with HD graphics requires about twice the human resources than before," Miyamoto said. "Please allow me to explain that we may have underestimated the scale of this change and as a result, the overall software development took more time than originally anticipated just as we tried to polish the software at the completion phase of development. However, we are almost out of this phase, and we are also trying to create something unique utilizing an easier development approach called 'Nintendo Web Framework.'"

In the same briefing, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata also addressed reports that he would resign if Nintendo continued to post operating losses. Iwata said the reports came from people inferring meaning in his making a commitment to achieve 100 billion yen operating profits. Iwata denied that he said anything about resigning.

"I have put a lot of energy into thinking about how we can accomplish this performance goal, but comparatively I have not put much effort into considering what we should do if we fail to achieve it," Iwata said. "I also believe now is not the time to mention those things concretely. In that sense, I would like you to think that the word 'commitment,' which I used before, means we have the intention to put in our best effort and ensure that we achieve this goal."

23 Comments

Yiannis Koumoutzelis
Founder & Creative Director

361 204 0.6
This was to be expected. I always had this in mind knowing that it takes quite some effort to re-train your staff to go high rez for HD. Some may not even make it through the transition as they may be so attached to their decades old low poly workflows. This increases the effort for creating an HD game (due to trial and error) and of course the time necessary to deliver at Nintendo Quality!

This jump came many years back for other studios. Nintendo now has to go through the same growing pains of HD... that others have already resolved many years back!

Posted:A year ago

#1

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

394 191 0.5

Posted:A year ago

#2

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,246 2,233 1.0
Popular Comment
Looking at their head count over the years, you can see they didn't increase their size much going from Wii to Wii U.

I think part of this is because they are already maxed out at the location their development takes place at and they have a new building already under construction. But the construction of the new building didn't start until late last year.

So even if they wanted to expand to accommodate the increased volume of resources needed for for Wii U, they'd still have been very space limited. That would require a lot of outsourcing (which changes the way the development was initially conceived) or lease a lot of extra space (which is expensive in Kyoto due to already high occupancy rates).

Almost damned no matter what but better foresight would have still been advantageous.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
This was inevitable and I often wonder where strategy came into the WiiU plan.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,463 1.4
Popular Comment
@ Patrick People said the exact same thing about the Vita and look how that turned out. Don't get me wrong, I've got a preorder on a PlayStation 4... but, well, as a Vita and 3DS owner I can tell you I am very keenly aware of how poorly other companies can keep up with Nintendo's software. Sony's first party development is in general nowhere near as strong, and power vs price point comparisons mean little if there's a massive gap in software quality.

Nintendo has some excellent software very near down the road for the Wii U, and the PS4's launch lineup includes very few exclusives. The big ones are Knack, Drive Club, and Killzone, which are hardly inspiring, even when compared to the Wii U's stumbling software release schedule. If I were a holiday shopper who had not bought any next gen console and I saw a PS4 with those 3 games (and a bunch of games I can play on my last gen systems) and a Wii U with NSMBU (and expansion), Nintendo Land, Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Sonic Lost World, Wind Waker HD, and almost all of the same multiplats, are you really going to make a value claim for $100 more on a PS4 with no packed in games (or $50 more if you get the Wii U with a pack in game)?

Next year, maybe, but this holiday? No, the Wii U still has better software than the PS4.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
Guh. I just can't believe that Nintendo's in house teams were in a bubble all these years nor looking or playing some of those HD games on other platforms and figuring out why and what they needed to do for their new system. Oh well... I guess anything that's NOT an HD reworking of an old title will look as if it's made for the platform...

Posted:A year ago

#6
"Underestimated" is a polite Japanese business speak for - failure of business plan.
Unlike the "bale" we have seen at MS - Nintendo will "restructure" those too 'window-seats' responsible for the mess.

We need to consider the fact, that Nintendo may have been sold a bill of goods regarding the Wii-U - with certain US executives claiming the platform they proposed with Nintendo R&D would be suitable for the Gen-8 market.

While Japanese executives are not on the menu (according to a Iwata statement) I would not be surprised if the US management team will see some "restructuring"!

Posted:A year ago

#7

Shane Sweeney
Academic

355 269 0.8
Both Sony and Microsoft aren't profiting though.

Nintendo is better doing its own thing that following in their footsteps.

Posted:A year ago

#8
@Shane,
Totally agree Nintendo is best as its own man - the company has that independent streak, reverting back to its toy and arcade days and is still profitable as it has not saddled itself with some of the 'Western' practices that see the vast debts that MS, and some of the publishers have encountered (including Sony).

Would not be surprised for Nintendo to pull back after the holidays and poor Wii-U take-up to re-evaluate their presence in the changed Gen-8 market (sit back and watch Sony and MS suffer), then come back 2015 with rumors of a new system.

Posted:A year ago

#9

David M Lopez
Studying Game Art and Design

8 2 0.3
Do you think that would make another system so soon? Like an hardcore gamer ver of the Wii U? With how Nintendo is handling it's self at the present time I highly doubt it. I feel like they have been living under a rock for the past 4 years.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Yiannis Koumoutzelis
Founder & Creative Director

361 204 0.6
Greg, you won't believe how many bubbles exist within big name publishers and in general, many of the successful teams are suffering from the effects of entropy. It is exactly these bubbles that have shut down the last few years! They suffer from being too homogeneous and focused on what they do! There is no easy or fast way to fix this. And it really is not a matter of professionalism, but flexibility and adaptability!

A strong sign of that is when you hear someone from a company saying that they created something unique! (That you have seen in a number of other products already!) It is not always a marketing pitch. Many of them actually believe it!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Yiannis Koumoutzelis on 7th July 2013 10:07pm

Posted:A year ago

#11

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
To some of the above points, I think a new system is completely out of the question, we need to make our bed and lay in it. At most a redesign on a 32nm process making it tiny and perhaps an improved version of the tablet style controller. Nintendo are always going to e able to sell a smaller, cheaper console.

I think the WiiU has all the power and promise necessary for a great 'next gen' experience, Nintendo just need to make that a reality through investment in their software and strategy to match. There are hundreds of indie games coming to the system too, so a rework on policies in that area (and perhaps middle-ware too) really seems to have helped.

I don't think the console itself is a disaster, its just the way its been introduced to the market.

Posted:A year ago

#12
@Adam -
Would I be correct that you own a Wii-U or working on a game on that platform?

Posted:A year ago

#13

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 939 0.8
Neither, yet...

Posted:A year ago

#14

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
@Yiannis: Oh, I believe it. And it's unfortunate that this is another inconvenient truth of this industry. More gameplay needs to happen all around, as it seems that
A strong sign of that is when you hear someone from a company saying that they created something unique! (That you have seen in a number of other products already!) It is not always a marketing pitch. Many of them actually believe it!
rings even truer in this age of indie devs busting out innovation left and right while some console and PC developers are confident that it's all about graphics and tech powering those visuals over gameplay that needs to take center stage.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Craig Burkey
Software Engineer

172 223 1.3
Nintendo are still missing their key franchises that appeal to me: Real new Zelda, Metroid Prime, Starfox, F-Zero

Posted:A year ago

#16

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

394 191 0.5
@Nicholas - I agree with your sentiments about the next gen line-up but that's only one front that Nintendo are battling on. Current gen consoles are similarly powerful and offer in many ways better services than the Wii U. Combine that with a very competitive price point by comparison and an established library of games then the Wii U stops looking like a good option.

Posted:A year ago

#17

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

214 535 2.5
I can only imagine a Starfox game with the Wii U. Doing barrel rolls with the Wii Pad as the steering mechanism, having your ship controls and map on the small screen, tilting up or down to manoeuvre. My goodness I would buy that on day one!

(analytically speaking, this sort of enthusiasm is something that most other companies can't get from me, the genuine feeling of wanting a game that badly)

Posted:A year ago

#18

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

644 260 0.4
I can only imagine a Starfox game with the Wii U. Doing barrel rolls with the Wii Pad as the steering mechanism, having your ship controls and map on the small screen, tilting up or down to manoeuvre. My goodness I would buy that on day one!
There are controls for these sort of games

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 8th July 2013 2:52pm

Posted:A year ago

#19

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

214 535 2.5
Oh you don't need the patronizing three dots, I'm perfectly aware of that, just like I'm aware of the prices for decent proper ones, and I'm aware I don't need that (not to mention the compatibility issue) to play a casual flight game like starfox on the Wii U or N64.

If we were discussing MS Flight Simulator, granted, but we're not.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andreia Quinta on 8th July 2013 2:24pm

Posted:A year ago

#20

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,246 2,233 1.0
Tom, that's a $450 joystick. When the joystick cost more than the console and the game.....pilot better be your career choice.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

644 260 0.4
Oh you don't need the patronizing three dots, I'm perfectly aware of that, just like I'm aware of the prices for decent proper ones, and I'm aware I don't need that (not to mention the compatibility issue) to play a casual flight game like starfox on the Wii U or N64.
Dots removed. But i still think a regular joystick gives a better experience in flying games. Even if its not premium Thrustmaster Warthog which is absolutely not for the casual users.

Posted:A year ago

#22

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