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Miyamoto: Other games companies are "boring"

Business sense doesn't necessarily make magic, says Nintendo's guru

Shigeru Miyamoto has called other games companies "boring" in an interview, allowing that what they're doing might make sound business sense, but arguing that there's more to the medium.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Miyamoto expressed his concerns that the ideas which resonate in the boardroom aren't the things which made games special in the first place.

"What the other companies are doing makes business sense, but it's boring," he told the paper. "The same games appear on every system. At Nintendo we want an environment where game creators can collaborate and think of ideas for games that could have never happened before."

Critics may point out that, although Nintendo's games don't appear elsewhere, they're certainly not short of repeated iterations of the same IPs. Nonetheless, as the performance of games such as Mario Kart 8 can attest to, sometimes that works just fine.

Miyamoto was speaking to press as part of an event to promote three short films he's made, each focused on a Herculean task writ small, as performed by Captain Olimar and the army of Pikmin he commands - Miyamoto's own inventions. The creator isn't about to switch mediums, however - he still sees games as the best vehicles for the experiences he wants to convey to his audience.

"I have never thought of games as a means of storytelling. So while many people have approached me in the past and said 'why don't you make a movie?', I had never been interested."

In fact, for a man with such a vast and wide-ranging influence over his chosen medium, Miyamoto dislikes the idea of being considered as an auteur. Instead, he feels that a proscriptive approach to game making misses the point, hinting that he may even see it as an ego-centric pursuit - perhaps giving further insight into his reluctance to enter the world of film direction.

"These younger game creators, they want to be recognised," he believes. "They want to tell stories that will touch people's hearts. And while I understand that desire, the trend worries me. It should be the experience, that is touching. What I strive for is to make the person playing the game the director. All I do is help them feel that, by playing, they're creating something that only they could create.

"When you play a game, one moment you're just controlling it and then suddenly you feel you're in its world. And that's something you cannot experience through film or literature. It's a completely unique experience."

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Latest comments (14)

Rafa Ferrer Localisation Manager, Red Comet Media6 years ago
Miyamoto:
What the other companies are doing makes business sense, but it's boring
Headline:
Miyamoto: Other games companies are "boring"
Good article, horrible headline. Besides bending his words to make him sound caustic (in any case he said how companies drive business is boring, not the companies themselves, huge difference), the headline misses what IMO is the best point of the interview -Miyamoto's understanding of the videogames medium-, which is what makes Nintendo special for better or worse. Far more interesting and debate-worthy.
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David Canela Game & Audio Designer 6 years ago
he says what other companies are doing is boring and the context is multiplatform games. I don't see how that can be spun in any way to make it sound nicer than a somewhat unnecessary jab at the competition. games are not necessarily diminished by appearing on multiple platforms, same as having unique features don't ensure they are good. Those can turn out to be just gimmicky.
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Michael Revis Freelance Writer 6 years ago
It's funny how removing one or two words just to make a smaller headline can change a sentence's meaning entirely.
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Show all comments (14)
Daniel Hughes PhD Researcher, Bangor University6 years ago
Spot on, Rafa. Also good to hear this:
When you play a game, one moment you're just controlling it and then suddenly you feel you're in its world. And that's something you cannot experience through film or literature. It's a completely unique experience.
Something I feel big budget development has lost sight of. It's not the only way to make or understand games, but it would be great to see more big budget efforts in this vein.
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Jordan Lund Columnist 6 years ago
""The same games appear on every system. At Nintendo we want an environment where game creators can collaborate and think of ideas for games that could have never happened before.""

o_O

Super Mario Kart (1992)
Mario Kart 64 (1996)
Mario Kart: Super Circuit (2001)
Mario Kart: Double Dash‼ (2003)
Mario Kart DS (2005)
Mario Kart Arcade GP (2005)
Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 (2007)
Mario Kart Wii (2008)
Mario Kart 7 (2011)
Mario Kart Arcade GP DX (2013)
Mario Kart 8 (2014)

Mario Party 1998
Mario Party 2 1999
Mario Party 3 2000
Mario Party 4 2002
Mario Party 5 2003
Mario Party 6 2004
Mario Party 7 2005
Mario Party 8 2007
Mario Party 9 2012
Mario Party 10 2015
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany6 years ago
All my respect to him. But when it comes to ideas Nintendo is not the best example when it comes to creating new characters. Sure the game mechanics change and improve, but we have been controlling the same brothers and doing the same rescue of the same princess for 30 years already.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 18th November 2014 10:11am

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John McCaul Web Developer, DevPhase.Net6 years ago
But Alfonso, is that not what he said?
These younger game creators, they want to be recognised," he believes. "They want to tell stories that will touch people's hearts. And while I understand that desire, the trend worries me.
I don't think he's talking about multi-platform games, I believes he is referring to yearly updates of the same franchises. Stuff like Madden, Fifa, COD, Assassins Creed with Destiny and Watch Dogs soon to be joining them and if I were to look back in time like Jordan has Medal of Honour. Nintendo can and do create new characters they just don't create huge stories around them.

Risk is what it's all about, other companies don't take risks, I'd love to see a Killzone/Halo game that looks like borderlands or even see a 2D version release. When Activision announced the investment for Destiny I'm starting to think I'm the only one who said to themselves 'What if it fails?', 'What would happen to Activision the industries largest 3rd party publisher and what will therefore happen to the industry?'. If it succeeds then 'What will happen to other 3rd Parties? Will they keep up?' The WiiU has Nintendo and Indies that's it. Other platforms will have 3rd parties and Indies but in the future it looks like there will be 4 3rd parties with a dozen franchises between them and the investment dollar will be so high there will be zero reason to take the risk.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 6 years ago
don't think he's talking about multi-platform games, I believes he is referring to yearly updates of the same franchises.
I think he means all of these games are trying to sell a story, but using the same (old) rehashed game mechanics. "Its the same as X but with Ys". Gameplay is the same. Nintendos selling point is the game mechanics, not the story. Its a toy company.
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Christopher Ashton Carlos Software Programmer 6 years ago
While Nintendo does indeed give us more of the same iterations of games, Mario and Pokemon are only attached in name to their games.

For the list of Mario Kart titles out there from SNES Super Mario Kart to Wii U's Mario Kart 8, each Mario Kart has mostly been different and only released once per system.

Super Mario Kart - First entry
Mario Kart 64 - 3D first entry with 4 player split-screen support
Mario Kart Super Circuit (GBA) - Pretty much goes back to SNES Super Mario Kart, but with 4 player support, considered weakest of the series
Mario Kart Double Dash - Two riders per vehicle and unique items based on riders. A mechanic I enjoyed, but never revisited in the series again so far.
Mario Kart DS - First online entry for the series
Mario Kart Wii - Adds bikes to the series and motion controls
Mario Kart 7 - New Hang Gliding Mechanics and Underwater sections AND customization options for karts
Mario Kart 8 - Anti-gravity: Honestly nothing really is changed up here in this entry, but it is the more well rounded and solid entry of the series to date.

Even if we stack that up, these games released once per console. Pokemon has usually 1 entry and 1 remake of the main series, albeit the DS version has 3 main entries (Diamond and Pearl, Black and White, Black 2 and White 2).

For all the Mario, Zelda, and other staples they give us, most times they produce 1-2 main entries of their star games for a system. That's because many of Nintendo's games have long legs, which I am sure many of these big studios would love to have sometimes on their side, because who doesn't love a game still selling strong like Mario Kart for Wii did so long after release, or the Pokemon series does for their handhelds, or even a Mario game will do 6 months later?

A lot of these companies release annual releases, because the gaming industry only gives a game about 1 month to 3 months (that's being generous) before they consider it a failure or not and feel the need to run to the next project and deliver next year to get out to gamers.) Maybe it is also part of the gaming community's demand for new entries too that doesn't help, but sometimes it would be nice if we didn't annually release titles and gave them more time to catch on. It also, in my opinion, would make each new "main entry" series more special, sort of like how a lot of Nintendo's main entry titles feel special, knowing that there may not be another Mario Platformer for a while, or a new Pokemon or Zelda main entry series for a while.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany6 years ago
Christopher. The thing is that it is still a Mario Kart, and those who were not interested in it will still be uninterested. That i what I meant with "same concept" it's not just "names" it's more like names + characters + background + concept + story (when applied)

John: I don't see any risk in what Nintendo does because they have always relied in their unconditional fan-base. And most of the Nintendo fans I know will always buy Mario, Zelda and Metroid not as much for the mechanics but because they are Mario, Zelda and Metroid. Same characters, same world, same background and same base concept to keep the fans happy and buying the games. Nintendo has always played safe in that field.
About Killzone and Halo since you mention them; It's worth pointing that Halo was released when the FPS market was saturated with WWII clones; that was a risk. Killzone released a sequel after the first game was a failure with the critics; that was a risk. By that time, Nintendo was still repeating the same base concepts. Still I would not worry about companies not taking risks: the final judge is the costumer (always; he pays) and when they get tired of something they just sop buying it. Companies will start pointing in a different direction because doing the same is what will become "the risk".
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John McCaul Web Developer, DevPhase.Net6 years ago
People buy Mario games because, much to unpopular belief (Christopher making a great point), they DONT come out every year, like you said Alfonso the game mechanics change and improve on each outing and they are regarded with high quality no? Halo was a FPS released into a business which best resonates with FPSers. Killzone 2 was the risk by your explanation not Killzone and to note with Killzone 2 the promotional footage shown at E3 was just pure lies, but that is a matter of Sony's PR practises for better or for worse as they may be. I'm not arguing Nintendo don't play to their strengths because everyone does.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
"What the other companies are doing makes business sense, but it's boring,"
Nintendo would like to remind you that releasing their own third person shooter called Splatoon is not making business sense, but business fun.
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Daniel Hughes PhD Researcher, Bangor University6 years ago
@ Alfonso

Obviously Nintendo rely on bankable franchises and gaming concepts to keep their systems and their business going, but to suggest (by omission, in your case) they don't experiment or take risks is absurd. They take risks quite frequently, and this works either way for their business. If the continuing bankability and reliability of their core franchises allows Nintendo fund, publish or develop software like Bayonetta 2, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Splatoon,then I think that's a fine line to walk along. I'd also argue more than most gaming series, Nintendo's core franchises (particularly things like Metroid, 3D Mario and Zelda) evolve in meaningful and sophisticated ways, not quite each time around, but often enough to retain a sense of vitality and freshness.

Look at Zelda since Ocarina of Time. Majora's Mask was built with the same game engine, and re-used assets, yet the core experience was radically different, with a different setting, structure and theme. Wind Waker was far more open than any Zelda since the first couple of entries, and had a radical, and extremely risky aesthetic. Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks featured a new structure of progression and were entirely touch-based. Skyward Sword had another new aesthetic, another new (more linear and story driven) structure and motion controls, and A Link Between Worlds has changed the series structure moreso than any entry since Majora's Mask. And it looks like the changes will continue on Wii U. Look at Metroid. Story driven 2D side scroller (Fusion), first-person adventure trilogy(Prime), action-orientated, third-person, story-driven title (Other M, obviously not all of these risks paid off). Look at the different experiences across Mario Sunshine, Galaxy and 3D World. The absolute base of the game might be the same, but that hardly means the mechanics and playing experience is the same from title to title.

To suggest that Nintendo rely on the same old tricks time and time again is a poor, sweeping statement. It would be just as sweeping a statement as to interpret Miyamoto as saying here that every other game in the industry is boring. Remember, this is an interview translated from Japanese and then reshuffled on the internet into news stories. I don't doubt Miyamoto is saying Nintendo do things, differently, and he's right. I don't think Miyamoto would deny Nintendo at times rely on conservatism and will always rely on the bankability of their biggest stars, they'd be fools not to. I think this obscures the thrust of Miyamoto's argument, and I'd say take a look at every other publisher's showing at this year's E3. Amidst everything from Microsoft, Sony and the major Western players, whose offerings were the most risky, most diverse? I'd say Nintendo without a doubt. There was the mix of the familiar, iterative blockbuster (Smash), the re-invention of the existing IP (Zelda), risky new IP (Splatoon, Code Name STEAM) and risky sequels to niche titles (Bayonetta 2, Xenoblade Chronicles X).

Sorry for the essay, but I think a conversation in which we assume Nintendo continually serve the same basic experiences and that's all is a one-sided, simplistic conversation that underserves the variety and the risks Nintendo offer as a major publisher. I'm never going to argue they always take risks, but it's obvious they still love to experiment.
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Chris Madsen6 years ago
Jordan Lund, I think he meant many games launched are not exclusive to xbox, ps4, nintendo or pc.
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