Eurogamer makes a very simple point. Nintendo is not a hardware maker, Nintendo is primarily a game maker that also makes hardware integrated into it. Therefore, it is not ‘third parties’ or ‘marketing’ that is the biggest issue but the games. And who is in charge of managing the games? It isn’t Iwata. It is Miyamoto.
Nothing in that article will be a surprise to a reader of this blog. The more you scratch at Nintendo’s software problem, a surprising amount of issues begin to emerge. Why did it take Nintendo over twenty years to make a sequel to Super Mario World? Why does Nintendo keep cranking out 3d Marios and Aonuma Zeldas despite the software not selling the hardware (which is the only purpose of first party software)? Why is Nintendo treating the sequel to Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort as split up download only games on the Wii U? (You’d think a company would want to take more than a corporate approach to the best selling video game of all time!) Why does Miyamoto still not regard the Virtual Boy as a failure but only as a ‘failure of marketing’?
There are many questions that need to be answered if we are to figure out what’s wrong with Nintendo. The more one investigates, I bet the closer one gets to what has been said on this site.
The response to the article has been fascinating to me. The hardcore gamers are going nuts. “How dare you blame Miyamto!” “Miyamoto is teh god!” Most of it is: “How can you blame ONE person???” The article writer makes a great point that Miyamoto has never truly been criticized. He gets 100% credit when things go well and ‘someone else’ always gets the blame when things don’t go well. Why is it always the marketers or CEO’s faults when things don’t go well yet they never receive credit when things do go well? When I started this site, NO ONE talked about Yamauchi and his contribution to Nintendo’s success. No, it was written as if everything was Miyamoto’s doing. It just wasn’t fair. I suspect it has also lead to a type of ‘kool-aid’ where Miyamoto, based on this endless praise and adulation, thinks he can never do wrong. If a game doesn’t perform well, then it is the marketers’ fault or the gamers’ fault. It’s never his fault.
Hell, even Shakespeare wrote some non-impressive plays. No one blames an artist for a dud. It happens.
I was reading the Neogaf thread on the subject in fascination of the hardcore going nuts that someone dare suggest Miyamoto might have ANYTHING to do with Nintendo’s woes that I came to this hilarious post.
Instead of pointing the finger of blame at Miyamoto, the real problem lies with Nintendo’s fanbase which seemingly won’t buy a game unless it features one of Nintendo’s established mascots. Fans such as myself would love to see Nintendo splash out on new IPs and such, but the depressing sales of The Wonderful 101, and dozens of other original 3rd party exclusives on the Wii and Gamecube, have proven less than successful when they ought to have been big hits.
Miyamoto is well aware of the sad reality that most new IPs will sell like shit to Nintendo’s base, so it makes much more sense to slap Mario (or whatever) on it to help sell as many copies as possible. And even that sometimes doesn’t work.
Last generation, Nintendo’s new IPs, which contained NONE of their mascots, sold extremely well such as Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Brain Age. You see what I mean by how DUMB these people are? I mean, this isn’t even ancient history, and they have totally forgotten about Wii Sports, Wii Fit, etc.
“But that is all they bought, Malstrom! They just bought the Wii Sports and bought nothing else!” Actually, they did buy other games. They even bought traditional gamer games such as Mario Kart Wii, NSMB Wii, and NSMB DS (all which sold extremely well). Mario Kart Wii outsold GTA IV. NSMB Wii was largely the force selling four million Wiis in the US during December 2009 which is a record that has yet to be beat (and may never be beat in decades). What is more revealing is what the Wii gamers weren’t buying. They were not buying 3d Mario. They were not buying Aonuma Zelda. They were not buying Sakamoto Metroid (or Metroid Prime 3).
From a casual observer, it may appear that the Wii gamer wasn’t interested in Mario, Zelda, or Metroid. Actually, the Wii gamer was interested in a DIFFERENT type of Mario. This is the more CLASSIC and ARCADE like Mario. This is what 2d Mario and Mario Kart represent.
If you look at Nintendo games from the Wii gamer context (such as my context), you would see that certain Nintendo games don’t fit such as 3d Mario and Aonuma Zelda. Yet, with the Wii U and 3DS, look at the games Nintendo is focusing on? It is like there is some sort of obsession within the company to push 3d Mario onto all of us. That there is some obsession to establish Aonuma Zelda as the ‘normal’ Zelda and every non-Aonuma Zelda from Legend of Zelda, Zelda 2, and Link to the Past are considered ‘black sheeps’.
I think the entire Wii U console was to translate the Wii audience into a HD Gamecube audience. And I think the 3DS console was to pave the road for ‘now is the time for 3d!’ In the Iwata Asks, Iwata admitted every time Nintendo does 3d that it fails. Yet, they keep doing it. You’d think that after decades they’d get a clue.
And just to balance out the insane posts with a decent one. Miyamoto is not some plucky developer in a workshop. He has an executive position. He is on the Board of Directors. A limo takes him to work each day. Miyamoto is the big boss of software at Nintendo.
“But we can’t blame him. That would be so mean!” Look, reader. Miyamoto is an extremely wealthy man. He gets to do whatever he wants to do. He has had nothing but endless praise since 1988 (that was when I first heard of him). A little criticism here and there won’t kill him. He’s a big boy. He can take it.
As an aside, the writer of the article mentions Aonuma telling him it takes time to ‘incubate’ developers. How come there wasn’t any incubation for Miyamoto or Gunpei yokoi? How did so many new franchises get established in the 1980s and early 1990s by complete rank amateurs? Perhaps it is because they had the spark of talent. You can’t incubate non-talent. Nintendo never fires anyone, and I suspect they keep hiring the wrong people. Entertainment is a pizzazz business. As game development becomes more complicated and requiring more analystical minds, such analytical personalities do not have a pizzazz personality. As Miyamoto said, even he couldn’t get hired at Nintendo today.