Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 8, 2011

Miyamoto retires


Finally. Finally. Finally.

Miyamoto is retiring. It is like Darth Vader stepping down. No… no, I must stop this post immediately. It needs something. It needs celebration music. How about some La Fiesta?

Miyamoto is retiring. He is going to give up the ‘managing’ of teams so he can play around with a small team and do whatever he wants. Being an outsider, there are three ways at looking at this.

A) Miyamoto was forced by the business side to “retire”.

It is an urban legend that Miyamoto was the architect of ‘Classic Nintendo’ (Eras of the NES, Gameboy, SNES). The architect of ‘Classic Nintendo’ has more to do with Yamauchi and, arguably, Gunpei (he designed the Gameboy after all). Miyamoto didn’t have a generalized management role over Nintendo products until into the Super Nintendo era. Miyamoto is the architect of Modern Nintendo. It is the Nintendo of decline, not ascension.

It was Miyamoto who demanded all Mario games be in 3d.

It was Miyamoto who hired a mediocre developer named Aonuma, heavily based that he made wooden dolls in college, and gave him the most famous and respected adventure game series ever (Zelda) only to have Aonuma run Zelda into the ground (have you seen those Skyward Sword sales? Yikes!).

It was Miyamoto who was the designer of the 3DS. The design flaws of the 3DS, especially how the product went to mass production without a second circle pad, are the fault of Miyamoto. It is the software side’s job to make sure the hardware guys know to put in two circle pads and all.

It was Miyamoto who was an advocate of the Virtual Boy.

If I was sitting on Nintendo’s business side, there are many reasons to get rid of Miyamoto. From where I’m sitting, I would see his role as a general manager (the architect of Modern Nintendo) to be an utter disaster for the company. His obsession with 3d and how he denied 2d Mario which drastically hurt the company is apparent. The failure of the 3DS would be the last straw. The big success stories coming from Nintendo don’t really have anything to do with Miyamoto (seventh generation Mario Kart, New Super Mario Brothers DS,  DS and Wii, etc).

It is indeed a possibility that the business side pressured for the ‘retirement’. Do I think this is what happened? No.

B) Miyamoto chose to retire.

The problem with this is that it is not actually retirement. It would be like Yamauchi ‘retiring’ to do ‘hands-on’ work in some department of the company. It makes no sense. Retirement is about sitting on a porch at home, not doing more hands on work.

C) Miyamoto “retiring” = Business Reality Finally Forcing Miyamoto to Make Games the Market Wants to Buy, Not Games He Wants to Make… But Miyamoto is such an Ego-Maniac, He Rage-Quits And Demands Nintendo Create a Unique Job Where He Does Whatever He Wants

This is, of course, the answer. Longtime readers of this website are not surprised at Miyamoto ‘retiring’. In fact, it has been predicted at this website consistently and for quite some time.

Miyamoto is used to getting his way. Due to the success of Super Mario Brothers and Zelda, he was given a more management role which he repeatedly abused to make the games he wanted to ‘develop’, not games the market actually wanted. This is around the N64 Era and has continued today. His personal obsession with 3d technology has been a disaster for the company. But he kept getting his way because he did everything in his power to promote himself, and allow the press, to paint him as a ‘god’.

The macro-economic conditions that once favored gaming no longer do so. Populations are not growing in the gaming markets outside of the Americas. Instead of economic growth to make mediocre Nintendo games sell ‘OK’, we have economic decline which is showing how weak these games actually are. Selling in a good economy is like running downhill. But selling in a bad economy is running uphill. It is much, much harder.

I said, multiple times, that either Miyamoto is going to have to make games he doesn’t want to make (like 2d Mario) or he is going to retire. Since Miyamoto is an egomaniac, he will choose to retire before he makes games he doesn’t want to make.

Before the reader makes grand accusations at poor Malstrom for saying this, allow Miyamoto to prove this point with his statement:

“What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself,” Miyamoto said. “Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.”

Miyamoto said that he’s hoping to start work on a project in 2012, and hopefully show the game off publicly within the year.

“In other words, I’m not intending to start from things that require a five-year development time,” he said.

In other words, Miyamoto wants a job that has no restraints on him. Who wouldn’t want a job with no restraints? So he isn’t actually retiring, he is getting a blank check to do whatever the fuck he wants.

“But wait a moment,” interrupts the clever reader with an even more clever point. “You said he was used to getting his way.”

I did.

“So why would he be doing this ‘retirement’ to do what he wants if he always could do what he wanted?”

It is because something has changed that prevents Miyamoto The Manager from doing Whatever He Wants. Therefore, he is becoming Miyamoto The Developer in order to keep doing Whatever He Wants. Do you understand?


OK. Let me explain it so even a hardcore gamer can understand. What runs Nintendo is not Miyamoto and his band of developers, it is the business minds that run the business. Miyamoto and his band of developers, being on the creative side, are allowed to be ‘creative’ only as a means to the end of commercial success.

“So what you are saying is that Nintendo will not destroy their business just so Miyamoto and his merry band of developers get to stimulate their ‘creativity’.”


“And because the ‘creativity’ was no longer bringing the success, the business side is forcing the creative side to make games they do not want to make.”

Such as 2d Mario. You know, games that sell tens of millions. You see, Miyamoto no longer has room to maneuver. The general manager position has to lead teams to make games that sell. The changing macro-economic environment has forced this. The “Now is the time for 3d!” fizzling out has forced this. The 2d Mario eruptions and 3d Mario malaise has forced this. Remember in Iwata Asks with Super Mario 3d Land that Iwata asked Miyamoto, (paraphrasing)”So you want to try selling 3d Mario to 2d Mario people one last try?” Why was it so damn important that 2d Mario fans buy 3d Mario anyway? Why not make both? That is what Miyamoto said would occur when Super Mario Brothers 5 was released, but it has been anything else. Perhaps the business side of Nintendo was unwilling to make two separate series of Mario and if 3d Mario didn’t make the same numbers as 2d Mario, well, one had to go. Remember Miyamoto pleading in the 3d Land Iwata Asks for people to buy the game so he could do what he wanted to do.


Miyamoto is such an egomaniac that he does not accept business realities from telling him what to do. To escape these business realities, he is “retiring” which means “doing whatever I want in game development”. People ‘retire’ when things don’t go the way they want.

I am in awe of Miyamoto. Not as a game designer but as a myth maker. This guy is very good with his PR and has made many people, including the people inside Nintendo, to believe he is a god. The invention Miyamoto will be known for is not Super Mario Brothers or Zelda but of the ‘Game God’ myth. Part of the reason why he has been so successful is purporting this ‘Game God’ myth everywhere is because everyone wishes it to be true so they can apply it for themselves. This is why you see game developers tripping over themselves to praise The Great Miyamoto. They aren’t really praising him so much as they are praising the concept of ‘Game God’. Why? Because they wish to become ‘Game Gods’ themselves. After all, ‘Game Gods’ get to do whatever they want, develop whatever they want, and get to give the business side the middle finger. This is a manchild type fantasy.

But it seems Miyamoto drank his own kool-aid. He apparently does believe he is a ‘god’. What he is doing is that he is setting himself up for failure. We are entering the final chapter of the implosion of the Game God myth. Everyone will expect something ‘wondrous’ to come from this ‘Game God’ now that he is freed from the ‘shackles’ of ‘big budget development’. Game development is for young men, not old men. He won’t be able to meet expectations. No one will like his ‘games’. The reason why is because the ‘god’ has feet of clay.

Malstrom pops champagne.

I do hereby declare a 12 day celebration for Miyamoto’s “retirement”. Let’s get the party started.



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