Find out how to kick start your games industry career

Get Your Free Ticket Today

Lanning: "Nintendo is going to be here in 100 years"

Oddworld Inhabitants founder secure in Mario maker's future, not so much in Microsoft and Zynga

Oddworld Inhabitants is most closely associated with Sony, but the outfit's outspoken founder Lorne Lanning isn't shy doling out cheers and jeers for the rest of the industry. In an interview with VentureBeat, Lanning talked about Microsoft's recent reversals on Xbox One policies that had been pursued by former Xbox head Don Mattrick, now CEO with Zynga.

"I looked at that and I thought, 'How does that whole [Microsoft Xbox One] team feel, knowing that the guy who led them to that train wreck just jumped out with maybe a $5 million parachute?'" Lanning said. "That's an issue we don't talk about today, because it's not cool in capitalism to talk about that."

He contrasted Microsoft's approach to Nintendo's, where CEO Satoru Iwata was recently asked if the company would be restructuring and laying off employees to cope with its recent struggles. Iwata answered that such a move could damage employee morale, and said developers in fear of layoffs would likely produce worse games.

"When he said that, in my opinion, he was immortalized in the creative community," Lanning said. "I would work with him in a second. When a man in that type of position, in a world where the golden rule is the rule and that's what's expected at public companies, he stood up and said, 'That's not what we're about. We're about building great stuff. We have great people to build great stuff. We're gonna do that. When I look at the history of Nintendo, I say, 'Nintendo is going to be here in 100 years.' I have no doubt. I doubt Microsoft will be here in 100 years. I know Zynga won't be here in 100 years."

As for Oddworld, Lanning has said the company's future plan is to grow the business alongside the fan base. While he expressed an interest in returning to AAA game development, he seemed happy to take his time getting Oddworld up to the scale where it could tackle such a project.

"We're able to grow in a very micro way," Lanning said. "It's not something that has investors that need to be appeased and that are really bringing no value beyond their cash. Usually that cash is what drives most of the pressure and most of the distractions. Being self-published and self-financed... It's really crowd financing, because it's revenue financing. The crowd is paying for it. They're just not pre-paying for it. As a result, we're able to do something different."

Lanning said crowdfunding in the more accepted sense is also going to play a role in the company's future. He mentioned seeking advice from Chris Roberts, whose Cloud Imperium Games has raised more than $14 million for development on Star Citizen.

Find out how to kick start your games industry career

Get Your Free Ticket Today

More stories

The Podcast: The incredible timing of GTA V's online casino

Plus, we discuss the historical impact of crunch and Nintendo's Joy-Con drifting woes

By James Batchelor

The irony of Oddworld

Lorne Lanning on crunching to make games about the exploitation of workers

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (24)

Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange8 years ago
Here's looking forward to witnessing Nintendo's bicentennial in 2089.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jonah Falcon Writer 8 years ago
Did anyone think in the 80's Atari was going anywhere?
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games8 years ago
no, but Nintendo survived the crash and produced wonders and still does! Nintendo quality despite wiiU performance is held very high! While our beloved Atari after some point became just a business lost all vision withered and died. Nintendo is still very much focused on making awesome games! And that matters to them more than anything else!
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (24)
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Jonah, probably not in the early, early 1980's but by late 1982 it was becoming pretty apparent things were not going to go well for them.

There are several differences between the 2, For one, Atari was never even close to as financially comfortable as Nintendo. They could take billion dollar losses on a several home consoles in a row and still have money left over. You could never say that about Atari. They took a $500 million loss in 1983 and that was the end. Atari was also very poorly managed. In-fighting was rampant. R&D spending was baffling. They often produced more cartridges than actual game consoles produced life to date. There were lawsuits everywhere about espionage and fraud. Manufacturing of games, and even consoles at one point, was out of their hands. the market was flooded with nearly 2 dozen consoles and way too many poorly coded games. And finally, they were not an independent company but owned by Warner Communications who had no clue what they were doing and fired all those that did.

Nintendo is in a much less volatile industry than was Atari and they have enough financial assets to weather losses for several generations.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
I love Nintendo, always have and still do. Im waiting on buying a wiiU simply because of personal budgetting issues, but at some point next year I plan on getting one and there is at least 10 games im looking foward to. I Bayonetta 2, X(monolith soft RPG), Mario kart 8, Super smash bros., Rayman legends being the tip of the iceberg. And its always good to hear from your boss he doesnt want to fire anybody. I guess thats why the continue to make good games, because they generally look like good people who actually love what they do and dont just want to make money. And if they want to make money its because they want to make more games. They do what most companies should do, stay small. This allows them to survive a huge monetary loss and bad business descision, without firing anybody and staying in business, and having enough leg room to think up a new approach to a situation. Nintendo doesnt stretch itself thin, doesnt grow to big even if it makes profits. They will be here for the long run. But as things stand now, I dont think they are in a bad place. All 3 consoles are facing software shortages, with major games coming in 2014 and beyond. As WiiU stands now it warrents a purchase.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
For reference, $500 million is 1.175 billion today.

I personally have my doubts Nintendo will be making consoles ten years from now, unless they merge with Apple, pretty much the only company strategically and politically in Japan viable for the, to do so, Nintendo will not surrender hardware or merge while Yamauchi lives, but they simply do not have the engineering capacity or software people to compete in a rapidly changing reality where you have to do more than deliver games. Everything they do is reactionary, but they never seem to understand why things are popular

I hope Nintendo does merge with Apple, and helps that commonly understand games, as Apple will help them understand hardware in 2013
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dominic Jakube Student 8 years ago
Exactly I was going to comment they have allready lasted a hundread years, no reason why they can't last another.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Andreia Quinta Photographer 8 years ago
I hope Nintendo does merge with Apple, and helps that commonly understand games, as Apple will help them understand hardware in 2013
That made absolutely no sense to me. If anyone cares to explain since I was genuinely confused.

For Nintendo to consider a merger or sell out to anyone they would have to have made years of mistakes over mistakes, and in that scenario I'd dare to say Apple won't be around (or at least not as exalted) if the shift to - let's face it- better devices like Android keep ramping up as it's been the last couple of years. Am I incorrect in saying so?
9Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Am I incorrect in saying so?
No not really.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
they simply do not have the engineering capacity or software people to compete in a rapidly changing reality where you have to do more than deliver games. Everything they do is reactionary, but they never seem to understand why things are popular
Nintendo have more money than some of the best tech companies out there, as well as an ability to re-invent. What's stopping Nintendo from evolving again?

All you really need is the right people at the right time, and a lot of caution. Not every move has paid off for companies in what is indeed a rapidly changing world.

People are constantly writing companies like Nintendo off yet they still tend to come through when they have so much flexibility to adapt. Nintendo are not in trouble. There are companies we should be worrying about a lot more.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
This is strictly my opinion, but I feel it's an educated one.

Nintendo has made "mistakes upon mistakes". The last 4 generations of their console buisness. While the handhelds have kept them alive, since they own it, the time of that remaining true is likely limited. When I look at my friend's kids, they all have DS in some form, but they all want an iPad, and once they get one the DS goes in the drawer. The biggest problem most parents have with giving their kid an iPad is fragility (and cost). A $249 ruggedized iPad mini is the death knell of the DS outside Japan

The problem they have is that Nintendo is a Japanese company to the core, and like Sony, they think about Japan first, a market that is standing still on what the rest of the world is interested in. Their game design is stagnant, interactive services are virtually non-existant. A game console is not something adults own there (or readily admit to owning anyway). Look at the design of the WiiU, it's designed for a Japanese apartment where there is often a single family TV, so junior can still play his games while mom and dad watch the news. Nintendo doesn't have the relationships with media companies, nor do they have the installed base of people who spend money to attract the kind of partners Microsoft has, or that Sony is trying for.. Japanese development in generat has seemingly stagnated, we're seeing a lot of games coasting on old design, and a lot of their best talent are actively working with western developers they that can and will give them the resources to try to create something new.

The fact that their consoles for the last 3 generations have been lagging years behind, combined with garbage sales costs them third party. How long do you think the WiiU will be supported after the 360/PS3 stop getting automatic ports of new titles? It's barely supported now, and the new consoles do everything it does with your existing, and far superior tablets and phones.

Steve Jobs despised games, and actively sabotaged the category for years, until iPhone games just made too much money. Why do you think they're only getting game controller support now? It's something the platform has needed at the very least since the iPad debuted, but Jobs forbade it. He hated buttons as well as gaming, a game controller is his worst nightmare.

Nintendo is not in a lot of trouble now. But they will be soon. The WiiU will pick up with a price drop, selling to the usual faithful, but no one else is buying one. Of the 70-something million WiiUs they sold, the vast majority of which were used to bowl, and gathered dust within a year. They created a hipster fad, they didn't build a viable platform because they don't know how to do that. The NES was successful because ROB got them into millions of homes, and the restrictive contracts they made developers sign kept them off of Sega, and Sega's ineptitude kept them from ever generating a lead they could hold. They crank out the same games over and over again, how much longer can they coast on the faithful? Judging by the fact that no one is buying WiiU, it seems even that hold is starting to break.I've seen an awful lot of "Wii is in the closet" comments from people who used to be frothing fanboys a few years prior.

Nintendo is a strong and unique voice in this industry, but their ultra-efficient car will run out of gas eventually. Their existing faithful are not being replaced. They're losing an entire generation of handheld uers. Nintendo is not in trouble today, but they are in trouble ten years from now, and I don't want to see that happen. I want to see them learn the lesson it took Sega ten years out of the hardware business to learn now. That putting your classics everywhere they'll fit is profitable, that stretching into new genres outside your comfort zone is a good thing, and for the company to be relevant, not just survive again.

As it stands, their big plan to save the WiiU, shipping the latest clones of decade old games does not inspire confidence anything is going to change.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
These big companies have core cultures that inform everything they do.
Apple is a marketing company.
Microsoft is a software company.
Sony is a consumer electronics company.
Nintendo is an entertainment company.

They all manufacture widely used gaming hardware, but they each come at it with a completely different philosophy and business model.
If Nintendo adapt then people will continue to buy entertainment. It might not be consoles, it might be playing cards and love hotels, as in their past.
Everyone's problem just now is the 7 inch tablet. It is just such a fantastic platform that it is cannibalising just about everything else.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Jeff Sorry but the fact that you actually consider Nintendo to be a company making nothing but "clones or decade old games" doesn't imply an educated opinion. It implies an internet troll on any average forum, not the kind of people we hope to interact with on Games Industry. It's also wholly inaccurate. Nintendo makes a lot of games outside their "traditional franchises."

Indeed since 2000 Nintendo has developed and published more new IPs than Sony and Microsoft combined, including things like Eternal Darkness, Pikmin, Pushmo, Golden Sun, Wii Series, Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan, Rhythm Heaven, Luigi's Mansion (No, I don't think reusing a character is the same as repeating a franchise when we're talking about a different genre), Baten Kaitos, Xenoblade, Pandora's Tower, The Last Story, Art Style, Flipnote studio, etc.

Nintendo is the most flexible of all these companies because of the fact that they can combine hardware and software development together. Nintendo designs the systems they need to make the games they want to make. No one else does that... no one else publishes nearly enough games for that to even be a relevant strategy for them. Nintendo will be making games and game hardware long after Sony and Microsoft move on to other things (or go out of business).

As far as sales lagging, the Wii and DS were far and away the best selling consoles last generation, and the 3DS has been the best selling platform worldwide every week for over a year now. Nintendo was even profitable in the Gamecube generation, despite relatively small sales, and is still profitable now. Predictions based on anecdotal "well the people I know" and "I read on the internet" have about as much validity as flipping a coin.

What we know right now is Nintendo has an extremely successful platform and a very unsuccessful one, which has yet to have software released to prove its potential. Anything predicted about failure from that information seems ludicrous for a company with $9 billion of liquid capital and billions more in assets. Something not even Sony can say for themselves.
10Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
We are looking at about 200 million tablets being sold this year. Over the last few months most kids I have seen playing games have been using a tablet. The rest have been using smartphones.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Shane Sweeney Academic 8 years ago
This is Nintendo's industry.

While Atari pre-Nintendo ran around and sued every "illegal" third party that produced "competition" on their own platform, Nintendo went out of their way to pursue, encourage and curate third party high quality content.

You could argue this is the "Nintendo model" and Apple, Microsoft, Sony and all other platforms are just following in Nintendo's wake. Nintendo is dripping with game culture. Does any other platform holder have a CEO equally as useful as a game developer at the helm?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 29th July 2013 3:12am

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
I'm talking about what Nintendo has showed for WiiU for Christmas. Going through the release list, there is not a single title from them, that is not a sequel or a remake to existing franchises, many of whom have about a half dozen entries. So my statement is accurate

I want Nintendo to be successful, but everything I see them doing is completely contrary to the wa all the industries swirling around he living room are. I've spent extensive time here and in Japan talking to gamepeople, CEs, retailers, so while, as stated this is my opinion, I feel its an educated and well rounded one. You're free to disagree with my assessment. But I've stated my reasoning why I think that Nintendo will not be making hardware in future decades, unless they take remedial steps. I hope you can look at it as the constructive criticism it's meant to be.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
Nintendo did sue every non licensed third party. Check out Tengen and Galoob for two infamous examples. They also threatened retailers not to carry competing products, or discount their hardware lest their supplies be cut off. While the vintage news story linked below doesnt contain the latter, if you look up the case, Sega was part of the suit to which Nintendo pled no contest and paid a small fine.

It could be argued that Don Mattrick holds the CEO creds you're talking about, which was applicable until a few weeks ago
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
I doubt Microsoft will be here in 100 years. I know Zynga won't be here in 100 years."
I agree about Zynga(they might not even make it another 10 years) but completely disagree about Microsoft. Does he not know that Microsoft is one of the wealthiest companies in the world? That they'll reach age 50 in another 12 years? And that if Nintendo were for sale Microsoft could outright buy them with cash on hand? Thats not the kind of company that just disappears overnight. Granted they've made some mistakes over the years(which company, including Nintendo, hasn't) but they are too big and too wealthy at this point in time to go the way of Atari.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Shane Sweeney Academic 8 years ago
@Jeff Kleist
I won't speak to your comments on whether Nintendo will one day move to software only, I may in fact share your views, however I will speak to your comment on video game history.

I agree Nintendo are no saint, but the very concept of having licenses at all was invented by Nintendo. Atari just sued everyone providing no legitimate option to produce content. Nintendo provided the first draft of this alternative model of even allowing licensed material, a radical concept for its day. I wont deny Nintendo did create the legal and technological frame works that restricted unlicensed content so evfective that every platform holder ever since has adopted it. We dont even have a modern day equivalent of Tengen or the Australian HES.

After the 1983 collapse of the entire video games industry Nintendo dared to enter the world market branding themselves as an "Entertainment System" when video game were a dirty word bringing about a renaissance in game developers inspiring a generation around the world. Without the Nintendo way of curating a modern platform the worldwide video game industry would either; not have existed or would have been set back significantly.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
I love nintendo games and gameplay. But I am seriously quite worried.
The platform it has feels like a dreamcast moment. As such...
Nintendo might not be in here in the next 2-3 years at the rate its WiiiUs.
100 years is overly optimistic or maybe in a parallel universe.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
The platform it has
Might want to rethink that one for a moment Dr Chee ;)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
@Christian Keichel

I wish people (in general) would stop changing the points I'm making by cherry picking things to be offended about out of the larger piece, and missing the point entirely

If Activision had a hardware platform with a long history of being abandoned by third parties, I'd be saying the same thing about them. I think we can all agree that Nintendo hardware stands on Nintendo franchises, There's just so much more than selling Call of Duty that makes a console viable. You have to be able to command significant shelf space at retail for one thing. Even if the games are all digital, you have to give them a reason to stock your controllers, systems, and cables. The availability of Mario Kart 7, Smash Brothers 5 and whatnot, are not going to move consoles except to the people who will buy Nintendo anything anyway. Virtually everything else of consequence is available on the systems other people already have, or not available at all. So why should why should those people buy a WiiU who aren't Nintendo fans? They bought Wiis because it gave them an experience they could get nowhere else, and when the novelty wore off, and the games from non-Nintendo sources dried up they put it in the closet.

Sony and Microsoft have third party support, Nintendo functionally does not. Microsoft, and to a lesser extent Sony also co-finance third party titles in exchange for some kind of exclusive content, whether that be total platform (Titanfall), extra missions (Assassin's Creed, LA Noire) etc That's where the difference lies. No one is going to give their next potential Gears of War to WiiU unless Nintendo is footing the bill.

I hope you understand better the point I'm trying to make here. It's not about selling to the faithful, it's about selling to everyone else, and not losing new disciples to the tablet market. We'll see in ten years if I'm right.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
And I completely agree with you. I was addressing the specific point made

People are reading everything I write as this Nintendo hatefest. It's not. It s looking at the long game, and the patterns Nintendo has demonstrated the last fifteen years or so, along with Japwn, past and present. An that's the nutshell. Japan s existing in a different world when it comes to the Internet, something that Sony has been playing catchup on for years. Who invented our modern online culture? SEGA. Microsoft didn't buy all that Dreamcast tech for nothing
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 8 years ago
Christian, you are so wrapped up in trying to prove me a hater by cherry picking one point in twenty you found offensive, I don't think I'm going to be able to help you understand what I'm talking about here. I don't think you have the background, and I'm not going to write a book in a comments section. I'm happy to continue talking to you about it, but I think we should do it offline.

jkleist -at- g male . com

All I'm going to say in parting from this topic, is that I want you to take a really close look at the top 10 Wii games, that have moved a quarter billion units and figure out what they all have in common, and why Super Mario Galaxy sold so poorly by comparison.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.