Nintendo backs off pursuit of casual players

Shigeru Miyamoto says a passive attitude on players' part is "kind of a pathetic thing"

Nintendo dominated sales for several years in the last generation by bringing in new audiences of casual gamers with products like Wii Sports and Wii Fit. However, in a new interview with Edge Magazine (portions of which were published by sister-site CVG), designer Shigeru Miyamoto suggested he has lost his desire to cater to that crowd.

"[These are] the sort of people who, for example, might want to watch a movie. They might want to go to Disneyland," Miyamoto said. "Their attitude is, 'Okay, I am the customer. You are supposed to entertain me.' It's kind of a passive attitude they're taking, and to me it's kind of a pathetic thing. They do not know how interesting it is if you move one step further and try to challenge yourself [with more advanced games]."

Miyamoto also acknowledged that in the previous generation, those audiences were an explicit target of Nintendo's efforts.

"In the days of DS and Wii, Nintendo tried its best to expand the gaming population," he said. "Fortunately, because of the spread of smart devices, people take games for granted now. It's a good thing for us, because we do not have to worry about making games something that are relevant to general people's daily lives."

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Latest comments (14)

Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance7 years ago
I can understand where he is coming from as a developer, but this makes very little business sense for Nintendo. Microsoft and Sony largely have the hardcore crowd divided between them. Going for a piece of that pie when you have the casual console market to yourself doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Nothing would make me happier than to see Nintendo become a major player in the fight for the hardcore crowd, but I just don't see it right now. Maybe not this generation at all. If they had developed a more traditional console that might have been a different story, but I still know people who are confused that the Wii U isn't a controller peripheral for the Wii...
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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments7 years ago
@Steve - not sure it's helpful to think of it in terms of two distinct sets of "casual" and "hardcore" - pairing these comments with the lineup from e3 suggests they're still after a different demographic to sony and MS - contrast forza with mario kart 8, mortal kombat X with smash brothers, and battlefield with splatoon.
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James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz7 years ago
Neil, I tend to agree. I don't think Nintendo is looking at it as hardcore = violent shooters. I think they are just separating it out as people who like to play more often and play games that have some depth. Certainly titles like Pikmin, Smash Bros and Mario Kart qualify. And you're not going to get those anywhere else but on a Nintendo system of course.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
but I still know people who are confused that the Wii U isn't a controller peripheral for the Wii...
If that's true, it's your duty as a journalist or whatever to set them straight (cue patriotic music and fireworks). I had this issue with a few friends, but all it took was getting people over to see the thing in action and yup, heads were set back on straight. I don't think I made a sale way back when I did this (it wasn't my intent), but at least the confusion was gone and people saw that Nintendo had finally taken the leap into HD gaming.
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Caleb Hale Journalist 7 years ago
The inherent problem with Nintendo's "Blue Ocean" strategy back when Wii launched: It was building momentum off a high-risk crowd, targeting people who hadn't historically made a valued connection with the hobby of gaming. I know plenty of typically non-gaming people, who purchased a Wii but never really did more with it than the Wii Sports that came with the console. Their library consisted of maybe five or fewer games encompassing the time they owned it. Of those who did get into a more "hardcore" lifestyle of gaming through the Wii, many migrated to the Xbox 360 or PS3. Those who ultimately didn't take to gaming eventually purchased a smartphone and found they could play the types of games that satisfied them without a dedicated device. So, it's good to see Nintendo is signaling an end to that strategy, although in hindsight it really seems foolish for the company to have expected lightning to strike in the same place twice.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 7 years ago
I don't think Miyamoto really understands what the Wii was

It was a gimmick that played well on TV

And like all fads, it burned out. These people used it as a bowling machine, they bought very few games.

These people now buy iPads , and continue to use iPads because they have utility beyond playing candy crush. They list the casuals because they were never customers, they were transitory
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Christopher Ingram Editor-at-Large, Digitally Downloaded7 years ago
I think it's funny that Mr. Miyamoto deems it pathetic for his target audience to not desire to play more advanced games, when I'd have to say the same thing towards Nintendo for it to actually believe that a (then) current "entertainment" industry trend (not just a "gaming" industry trend) that buys up the hot item of the time, would all of a sudden become "Nintendo" gamers. Nintendo had every reason to try and retain this market, but it shifted the majority of its business towards these non-gamer consumers, finding a large majority of its core audience feeling alienated.

There were quite a few of us journalist in the industry before the Wii U released that were vocal to this being a real issue for Nintendo going forward, but very few even seemed to care. Nintendo makes fantastic games and it's a staple part of our industry, but had Nintendo not confused the market identity of the Wii U prior to and immediately post release - this includes games and online infrastructure - I think it would doing much better on the market than it is today.
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Christopher Ingram Editor-at-Large, Digitally Downloaded7 years ago
Nothing would make me happier than to see Nintendo become a major player in the fight for the hardcore crowd,
Nintendo started off as a toy company and even today, still continues to call itself as such. Nintendo once was the powerhouse of the gaming industry, but that was before the large electronics/computer companies became its competition. It prides itself as being a small, tight-knit company and in keeping to its core roots, and simply cannot compete with the likes of Sony and Microsoft with these powerhouse consoles.

Nintendo makes incredible games that feature a quality that's unrivalled in the industry. It's games are so great, in fact, that gamers (and parents) are willing to purchase a console just to play its games. Nintendo needs to keep doing what it does best, and ensure that its hardware finds a better balance between tech and cost to the consumer.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 7 years ago

Most of us sounding the alarm bells were shrugged off by the "never count Nintendo out" crowd.

The problem at Nintendo goes far deeper. Yes, they do see themselves as a toy company, but they are also having issues with the fact that Japan is diverging heavily from the rest of the world. In how their electronic media market is shaped. Streaming services are essentially non-factors theree, and due to the number dome people riding the trains ebook so and music are still popular, but when it comes to movie ps and games, it's physical only. He'll the local Blockbuster equivalent has never been bigger.

Nintendo, and they are hardly alone in this, takes the strategy that worked in 1986. What works in Japan will work elsewhere. Japanese companies typically see the internet as a giant mall, and the old men at the top do not understand how the rest of the world is changing. Nintendo thinks they're Disney, and that their pixie dust will never fail. They didn't behave their engineers, likely hired from corporate talent pools and not entertainment based ones use XBL or PSN before designing their services. They don't ship outdated technology because they want to, they do it because they HAVE TO. their internal teams are very behind on technology, and since they train from within, they're shipping last gen consoles because they have to.

Nintendo has a lot of great IP, but they're cranking out barely updated clines of the same games they were making on N64. The six year olds of today hVe no nostalgia for Nintendo, and 40 billion is a lot of cash in the bank, but it just means they're going to take longer to bleed out. They need to merge with someone who can help them, Apple or Disney are the only western companies they could get away with. Sony is too unstable right now to do anything other than suck up their nest egg into the mothership. Like it or not, when Miyamoto gives, without a new Wunderkind, they're simply that's, because Nintendo is more a religion than it is a company when it comes to their primary customer base, and when the Prophets dies, wither go the faithful
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if Nintendo want more gamers who enjoy games, how about producing platforms that allow developers and first party to revel in it, instead of the stone age generation devices on offer at the moment? heck, even a big chunky Wii u controller woudl make a nice upgrade from the 3ds screen size/form factor. Easy win!
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers7 years ago
it's your duty as a journalist or whatever to set them straight
I'd say that's more Nintendo's duty as a publicly traded company to demonstrate their product to not have consumer confusion. It's a similar onus with the 2DS - the greater burden is on Nintendo to make sure people know that no, it's not a completely new system and yes, it will play all 3DS and DS games.
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Ryan Locke Lecturer in Media Design, University of Abertay Dundee7 years ago
That simple pivotal moment when they made the mistake of calling it 'Wii-U'. Marketing hell.
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Ralph Tricoche Studying MA, CUNY7 years ago
I'm glad to hear Nintendo and in particular Miyamoto start to wake up and realize what the rest of the world knows. Casuals are just that. Casual. They wouldn't know a good game if it came crashing down on them from the Empire State building. HOWEVER, these folks have made an impression upon publishers that are seeking those micro-transactions dollars. They've already bought homes with the expectations of monetizing all future triple A offerings.
What where these casuals thinking?
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Rogier Voet IT Consultant 7 years ago
So Nintendo has finally come to his senses that catering to the casual crowd is not a sustainable business model (sad fact is that they abandoned their core market for it and made the Wii U with absolete: hardware, poor tools for game creators and that awfull tablet controller. I just do not see any redemption for this console. Even if they manage to fix all what is wrong with the Wii U, it will never be able to compete with any of the other relevant platforms. In bussiness terms it's a nice the have product, never a must have.

Even if Nintendo breaks the bank and actually start making enough games for it, it won't be enough.
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