Nintendo's Miyamoto "not actively participating" in NX development

Legendary designer says he's more focused on software these days, talks about why Wii U failed

While Shigeru Miyamoto is best known for iconic Nintendo franchises like Mario and Zelda (among others), the industry veteran has also played a significant role in hardware design for the company, whether it was the Wii remotes, the three-pronged, first-ever analog controller for N64 or something else. For Nintendo's still mysterious NX platform, however, the longtime designer is not going to be an active participant in hardware development, according to an interview with Fortune.

"I've pulled myself back out of some of the hardware section and I'm really focused on some of the software that I'm involved in-for example, the new Starfox game," he said. "Of course I am observing and looking at the hardware, but I am not actively participating and making decisions."

Miyamoto was also asked about why Nintendo's Wii U has struggled so much. The platform has sold around 9.5 million units so far, which makes it Nintendo's slowest selling console in its history (even slower than Gamecube). For comparison purposes, Sony's PS4 managed to sell as many units in roughly nine months as Wii U did in two and a half years. Miyamoto believes the biggest problem wasn't necessarily a lack of AAA titles for Wii U, but that Nintendo could never properly explain the concept behind the system.

"I feel like people never really understood the concept behind Wii U and what we were trying to do," he said. "I think the assumption is we were trying to create a game machine and a tablet and really what we were trying to do was create a game system that gave you tablet-like functionality for controlling that system and give you two screens that would allow different people in the living room to play in different ways. .... Unfortunately, because tablets, at the time, were adding more and more functionality and becoming more and more prominent, this system and this approach didn't mesh well with the period in which we released it."

Shinya Takahashi (who oversees Nintendo's Software Planning & Development Division with Miyamoto) added that for the NX it's now imperative that Nintendo closely examine what it can do to generate excitement again with lots of people.

"For us, the next step is to think about what is going to be that element that is really going to catch the attention of a large number of players again and get them excited," he noted. "We're constantly thinking about this idea from the perspective of the players and the needs of the players in terms of what can we can do with our ability and our technology to capture that excitement and passion."

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Latest comments (12)

"...success has many fathers, failure is an orphan!"
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Ralph Tricoche Studying MA, CUNY6 years ago
So basically, the new Zelda will be on the NX. Interesting.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
[quote...]talks about why Wii U failed[/quote] *sigh* it's not a complete failure if it's still in stores and selling (albeit not as well as the competition). How about referencing the article and stating "...talks about why Wii U is struggling" instead. Fair is fair after all.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 6 years ago
Greg, it's selling obscenely badly. It's only still on the shelves to to the space open for NX stuff. It still hasn't broken Dreamcast numbers in more time in the marketplace, and keeping in mind DC only had less than 18 months in markets where Sega sold a lot of consoles.

It's games cost far more to make, the system cost a god billion dollars, third parties have abandoned it, and it has no digital marketplace worth mentioning to keep the cash flow moving.

That's objectively failure when you are doing much worse than a system that sank your chief competition, that people will still remember fondly a decade from now as an innovator, despite its awful controller and the fact that it didn't turn off the music, causing the batteries to always be sucked dry.

Miyamoto isn't working on the hardware because they've invested tens or possibly hundreds of millions in his ideas, from the GameFube controller through the Gamepad thst failed to interest people. were most of them bad ideas? No. But they didn't make money. Time for some fresh, younger, and better connected blood to help try to avoid Armageddon. So thry let him go do what he IS consistently good at.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 6 years ago
[quote...]talks about why Wii U failed
*sigh* it's not a complete failure if it's still in stores and selling (albeit not as well as the competition).[/quote]

Well the Xbox One is still in stores in Japan and if the weekly Japanese sales figures are to be believed sells a few hundred units a week. And yet I can't think of any other way to describe it's Japanese sales figures other than a complete failure.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
@Paul: Then that also means the Wii U has probably outsold the Xbox One in Japan at some point but Microsoft sales figures everywhere else say their new console isn't a failure at all. ;D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 1st July 2015 4:37am

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Ralph Tricoche Studying MA, CUNY6 years ago
@Jeff I agree with everything you said about Miyamoto. I think Nintendo is giving M a little bit of space. I think they want young blood. I know they have hurdles as a company to deal with, but it was time to give him time to work on only software and by work I mean design and create not oversee others work.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ralph Tricoche on 1st July 2015 4:42pm

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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee6 years ago
They need completely new input into the hardware design of the console, reflecting the needs of the market and utilizing the best technologies and architectures available.
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After reading your point @Jeff you struck a chord.

I see Miyamoto like I see SEGA's Suzuki - they have ideas and a following, but are corporate-poison - as if as they matured they lost contact with the audience and what the players want. May be Nintendo should look to a Crowd Funded project with Miyamoto to act as a barometer to see if he has a good / popular idea?
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
I do not believe the NX will succeed based on having Nintendo games plus the same 3rd party games everybody else has. But Nintendo's history makes one thing painfully obvious. A few years back, Sony Move and Microsoft Kinect were chasing the success of the Wii controller. Today those consoles are chasing after the popularity of Twitch streaming and Steam pricing found on the PC.

Nintendo's stance on those two topics was made very clear and leaves me unsure as to how the NX will either catch up, or better, be one step ahead again in that market environment. I doubt some random gimmick will be enough.
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Richard Pygott Level Designer 6 years ago
Never underestimate Nintendo...
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 6 years ago
@Greg--The Wii U outsells the Xbox One in Japan every week. To put it in perspective, the PS Vita TV outsells the Xbox One in Japan as does everything else video game related made in Japan. But of course that's ONLY in Japan. The Xbox One outsells the Wii U handily in most of the rest of the world because the rest of the world isn't as bias as Japan is towards their own home made video game products.

But my point was to say that something that is still on store shelves and sells a few hundred units a week can still be considered a failure when you break it down into specific markets/regions/countries/etc. And the Wii U has been a pretty big failure for Nintendo so far, not only when compared to the Wii but also in comparison to the two systems(XBO and PS4) that launched a year after it and have both already outsold it in global sales.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 2nd July 2015 5:16pm

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