Gi Live London graphic

Connect with the UK Video Games Industry

Buy Your Tickets Today
Gi Live London graphic

Iwata backs quality over consistency as Wii U falters

Nintendo's president says gaps in Wii U release schedule were due to a conscious choice for better products

Nintendo's Satoru Iwata has attributed the Wii U's loss of sales momentum to the company prioritising quality over consistency in its software

In a call with investors that followed Nintendo's recent financial results, Iwata fielded numerous questions regarding the slow performance of the Wii U and the decision to make decisive changes to Nintendo's management structure.

Iwata conceded that the Wii U's sales have been adversely affected by its thin release schedule, but, he said, this was a deliberate choice by Nintendo - a choice rooted in the company's values.

"We were faced with the alternatives of taking time to refine our products or launching them without too many intervals," he said. "After careful consideration, we selected the first option because we believe that from a mid-and-long term perspective it is more important to improve customer satisfaction with each game.

"The future of the industry depends on the number of games developers release that consumers consider to be fresh and worth paying for"

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo

Iwata pointed to Fire Emblem: Awakening and Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon on the 3DS as examples of the sort of success that high standards on specific platforms can bring - and evidence that gamers still crave "carefully developed" experiences. The delayed Wii U games, including Pikmin 3, are merely subject to the same rigorous standards.

"I believe the future of the video game industry depends on the number of games developers release that consumers consider to be fresh and worth paying for," Iwata said.

"We decided to take time to add the final touches to ensure that consumers fully feel that they are valuable titles. The brand of a franchise would be completely degraded without customer satisfaction. This is why we delayed the release schedule of such games [as Pikmin 3]."

When asked to identify any future bottlenecks in production - a strong possibility given the apparent lack of strong third-party enthusiasm for the Wii U - Iwata pressed the rising difficulty of creating $50 to $60 retail software that passes muster with modern consumers in terms of value. Games that once would have been successful are now judged in very different ways.

"These days it is becoming increasingly challenging to determine the minimum development resources required for customer satisfaction," he said.

"However, the sales of popular games are much larger than in the past. Therefore, if we create more hit games, the software development business can still be very profitable. All games break even if they sell millions of copies worldwide, so we will continue to do our best to develop games which have high sales potential."

Of course, in the digital world, it simply isn't necessary to think in terms of $50 and $60, and Iwata pointed to evidence of Nintendo's belated attempt to develop its online business: a quarter of Animal Crossing: New Leaf's sales last fiscal year were digital, as were 10 per cent of sales for the recently released Tomodachi Collection.

In an encouraging development, Nintendo's research indicates that, among people who bought a game via download, substantially more than half also made their next purchase as a download.

Gi Live London graphic

Connect with the UK Video Games Industry

Buy Your Tickets Today
Gi Live London graphic

More stories

Nintendo's approach to subscriptions is worth watching | Opinion

As Nintendo introduces Sky-like packages to its Online Service, could this help make games subs services more appealing?

By Christopher Dring

Chris Pratt cast as Mario in animated adaptation dated for Holiday 2022

Charlie Day will be Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy joins as Peach and Jack Black will voice Bowser

By Marie Dealessandri

Latest comments (10)

John Arnold Video Production 8 years ago
I completely agree with Iwata's decisions, people need to stop bitching about lack of Nintendo software.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 8 years ago
I'm not sure people are bitching about the lack of Nintendo software John, just any software at all for the Wii U... As much as I love Nintendo's philosophy and perspective on the market they still need to work harder with the 3rd parties to get them on side. The gap in software could have been softened if it wasn't for the support exodus that seems to be going on for the platform.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
I agree with Iwata on many points and Im OK with games being delayed in order to make them better. However if consistancy is an issue for any business.. You have to churn out products quick enough in order to keep the money flowing. Francises like Metroid or Zelda dont need to be rushed, even if they are cash cows, much care should be taken when developing them. However they can create new IP and maybe make other games which dont require so much time to make and have software releasing more often. They can take chances with lesser software, if one of them hits they can make a franchise out of it. I wish they made another F-Zero and 1080. 1080 can benefit from the fact that the last SSX bombed. They can reclaim the snowboarding crown easily, If they make a sequel to 1080 Avalanche. Starfox has been a franchise thats been dormant, and maybe make more side scrollers or a fighting game, and maybe let developers experiment with new franchises on there system, maybe make lower budget games and sell them for 30$ like Anarchy Reigns. Im not a fan of the gamepad, as they could have had most of the features it has by making an app for Android and iOS touchscreen devices. I would have prefered they take the expensis of making the controller and packed the WiiU with more RAM.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (10)
Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games8 years ago
delaying games to make them better when possible is a good thing. but that is hardly the case with wiiU. unfortunately wiiU so far has fallen victim of bad marketing, acidic press, and developers not being interested for various business reasons. not a very good combo.

BUT hopefully they will make a comeback with great games the last half of the year. if not, i am looking forward to seeing the next proposition from Nintendo. the time for sticking to your guns while losing market share is so 2005. today you have to be fast and adapt to what customers want!
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
As much as I like my own Wii U, I'm still a bit perplexed that Nintendo didn't pick up the phone when they were FIRST designing the system and ring up Miyamoto to ask if he and a team could whip up a new Zelda or Mario to launch with the console. Or put together a dedicated Metroid team. Or think that Earthbound would be the PERFECT pack-in on the hard drive for day one buyers. And so forth and so on...

Yeah, yeah, it takes TIME to make new games, but how long was the Wii U in development that something more memorable than NintendoLand (which IS fun, mind you) could be created? Hell, even if it was half a game that could be added onto with digital expansions and/or retail discs down the road, it still would have been a much different launch and launch window for the company.

Getting out of the gate with a killer app and less to no junk titles means more people are playing and talking about that console than what seems to be going on now. It may sound arrogant, but I say proper planning works better than sitting there looking at sales figures and shifting excuses around.

That or hell, getting the system out when more of the must-haves were ready and spread into a concrete release schedule using Nintendo Direct as a monthly soapbox would have been (and still can be) a way for the company to get and keep interest going...

Eh, whatever - I'm just hoping they can work their way out of this hole before those in the pres who love slapping the company around get to dooming them out of any future successes based on how they've seen the Wii U as a competitor to other consoles.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University8 years ago
This wouldn't be as big a problem if:

1) The same problem had been experienced by every recent Nintendo console at some point in its life span, to be followed by assurances of "This won't happen again!"

2) Third party support (more than just Ubisoft and Capcom) had materialised.

3) Virtual Console and eShop pushing out content regularly from day one to act as filler for existing consumers.

4) Nintendo used their Nintendo Direct broadcasts to provide more regular updates on Wii U software development.

I very much admire Nintendo's commitment to their games and the quality of their intellectual property. It is far more damaging in the long-run for a Nintendo IP to fail than it is to lose the Wii brand, but that doesn't make this short-term damage to Nintendo's fortunes and Wii U itself acceptable. Nintendo need to be expanding their own development resources, more aggressively courting third party publishers, and ensuring regular digital content (legacy and new) is consistently available for existing Wii U owners.

Now their digital policy has progressed excellently, Nintendo's development resources have expanded (more needs to be done), and they have good working relationships with Japanese publishers and developers of every level, and increasingly good relationships with independent developers. The last problem--Western third party support--may be partially solved by Iwata's more active role at Nintendo of America, but Nintendo need to act on all fronts.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve8 years ago
The NES, SNES and N64 all launched with amazing Mario games, games that defined the console and turned heads. I still remember the first time that I saw and played each of them to this day. Since the GameCube though Nintendo is yet to have a killer launch line-up. Super Mario Bros U? It's nothing we haven't seen before.

I looked at the games available for the Wii U at launch and there wasn't a game on there that tempted me to buy the console. It's now been half a year since it came out and that hasn't changed. It's fair enough that they want to focus on quality, but it still shows there was bad planning from the beginning.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
John Pickford Owner, Zee 38 years ago
Wii Sports is pretty much the ultimate killer launch title.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers8 years ago
Wii Sports is pretty much the ultimate killer launch title.
Wii Sports was a perfect pack in title for the Wii, providing what a lot of consumers wanted out of the console without any outside purchases. I think it can be definitively said that Nintendo Land doesn't have the gravitas as Wii Sports.

As far as the timing, I'd expect a lot of waiting this generation for Nintendo games. Nintendo has always taken its sweet time when it comes to its top tier software and now that they've started making HD games for the Wii U, it will likely increase. I point to the time and resources needed by many top level PS3/Xbox 360 games as evidence that it's going to take even longer for Nintendo's biggest franchises to come to Wii U. Pikmin 3 has already been in development for several years, and that missed Nintendo's generous "launch window" and isn't coming until August.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Consistency was a big problem for the Gamecube.

Sure, there were games so good that I ended up playing them for the next 5-7 years but they were far between. Software droughts can't be the norm in the future for this platform to see sustained success.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.