Well, my email blew up with everyone emailing me about Miyamoto’s latest quotes in Edge magazine. I’ll go through these momentarily (I still have lists of people’s NES games to go through too!).
Short term readers may see Malstrom as ranting, raving, and going on about personal issues. Long term readers know he is more of a canary in the cold mine.
Back in 2008 I had the first sense of wondering, “What if all this ‘expand the gaming population’ is just their corporate-speak and Nintendo’s developers have another agenda altogether? What if Nintendo’s developers are not seeing N64/Gamecube/Virtual Boy as failures but only failures because they removed an accessible pipeline of new gamers? The biggest issue was the controller. The NES controller is simple for new gamers and the SNES controller is fairly simple too. But the N64 controller and Gamecube controller are somewhat intimidating. There were also no games made for beginner gamers. For example, a beginner gamer might start off with Duck Hunt and then go to Donkey Kong to Super Mario Brothers to Super Mario Brothers 2 and 3 and then other more complicated games. A game like Mario 64 is very complex and overwhelms a new gamer.
I’m not sure why I began thinking this, but I do know FOR SURE it was happening in 2009 with the marketing strategy of Super Mario Galaxy 2. 3d Mario only sold well in North America. Galaxy 2 was shipped with instructional DVDs in Japan and Europe to ‘instruct’ people on how to properly play 3d Mario. This got my mind racing. In Mario Galaxy 1, you notice how often the game turns into 2d? That was not an accident. You notice how much linear Galaxy 1 is to Mario 64? That is not an accident. That is Miyamoto trying to make 3d Mario more ‘accessible’.
Miyamoto doesn’t want to make 2d Mario. He wants to make 3d Mario. Unfortunately, 2d Mario vastly outsells 3d Mario historically. Cammie Dunaway (remember her?) spilled the beans when she said the marketing strategy for Galaxy 2 was to get the people who bought NSMB Wii to buy Galaxy 2. In other words, Nintendo was heavily investing in getting the Expanded Audience to buy 3d Mario.
Above: Nintendo believes people who don’t like 3d Mario aren’t rejecting the game, they are just retards who don’t know how to play it!
Miyamoto would later go to great lengths with Super Mario in 3d Land and 3d World to use every NSMB style, revamp the gameplay, and even put the things we’ve been begging for the longest only in those games such as the multiple characters to choose from with SMB 2 to Giant World to the Tanooki Suit. Of course, the 2d Mario games got crap. They were being deliberately sabotaged. They were nothing more than level design practice for staff, practice for Tier 3 developers, and something fast to pop out for Nintendo’s new HD console. Miyamoto said that they were very bitter that people keep buying 2d Mario and not 3d Mario. The 3DS was largely designed so Miyamoto could finally solve the ‘problem’ of people having difficulty playing 3d platformers (since now the output was in 3d).
The 2d Mario vs. 3d Mario is a microcosm for all of Nintendo development. Aonuma and his team love, love, love Wind Waker, love their puzzles (they hire staff based on their puzzle making ability!), love their crappy NPCs, etc. But Aonuma is on record stating his hatred for the original Legend of Zelda. He only liked Link to the Past because you could cut grass. So with Zelda, we keep getting the Lucy-taking-away-football-from-Charlie-Brown syndrome of the Zelda game we really want only to get a complete turd in the end. Examples: Gamecube Zelda demo with Wind Waker as the product. Wii U Zelda demo with Zelda U as the product. “Zelda U will have exploration like Zelda 1. You can even explore that mountain in the back.” to “Zelda U will not be open world and won’t be like Zelda 1.”
Metroid is the clearest example. As gamers, we define Metroid through three games: Metroid, Super Metroid, and Metroid Prime. Some like one more than others, but Super Metroid is universally praised. Metroid: Other M was promised to be the ‘sequel’ to Super Metroid. It was anything but that. Other M was Sakamoto wanting to do whatever the hell he wanted. When Other M wasn’t accepted, he attacked the fans. If it hadn’t been for fans of older Metroids, then we would see the genius of Other M.
My view of the 3DS and Wii U is very different from other people’s. People keep getting both systems wrong as saying they are designed for the ‘expanded audience’. They are most certainly not. The 3DS has scary 3d. The Wii U has a controller more convoluted and complicated than the original Gamecube controller. The only thing the 3DS and Wii U have in common with DS and Wii is similar branding, aesthetics, and a couple of games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit (but honestly, could Nintendo have gotten away with NOT making new incarnations of these insanely successful games? The shareholders would be in an uproar). The 3DS and Wii U were to transition the DS and Wii users to Gamecube-esque gaming. The failure of the 3DS and Wii U is the failure of Gamecube-esque gaming. What is selling the Wii U? Games like NSMB U and Mario Kart 8. What is not selling the Wii U? Games like Super Mario in 3d World (which Nintendo made HUGE predictions would sell big and sell hardware big).
Nintendo never was serious about the ‘expanded audience’. They just wanted to pipeline new gamers into their N54/Gamecube-esque games. However, that didn’t happen. What happened instead was that the expanded audience graduated to games like 2d Mario and Mario Kart, NOT to 3d Mario or Aonuma Zelda or Sakamoto Metroid. This is rejection. Miyamoto had to have been pissed. Very, very pissed.
I’ve been saying the above for a while. It is evident Nintendo thinks this way due to their actions and decisions. So it is no surprise to see Miyamoto saying what he is in Edge. He never has wanted to make games for everyone. He just wants to make HIS type of games. There is no financial reason why 3d Mario, with its massive costs, keeps being made. Yet, it keeps being forced down our throats. There is no reason why Zelda has to follow the stale formula Aonuma has set out for it. Yet, it keeps being forced down our throats.
Miyamoto hates YOU. Yes, you, the gamer who doesn’t like his Gamecube-esque ways. The reason why he bashes Zelda 2 or even Super Mario Brothers 3 is simply because we like it.
The Game Industry is very excited about what Miyamoto said. It is because Nintendo will destroy itself. One reason why I find Nintendo’s E3 briefings to be about Iwata and Miyamoto having silly skits is because NINTENDO IS NOT ABOUT THEM. Nintendo is about the games! Nintendo is about the gamers! What Miyamoto is saying is that Nintendo IS about him. He even posed for a cover image of Edge magazine so he can play his ‘Game God’ crap.
Above: I thought the customer was the king, but now Miyamoto is the ‘king’. The Nintendo console is in little text in the corner. Remember when games used to be on the cover of game magazines? Miyamoto is irrelevant. It is all about the games, not about him.
But the emperor has been revealed to be wearing no robes. People are too informed now. He can’t go back to being a god… especially not with his bitterness.
“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.”
The iphone was released in 2007 which was during the DS and Wii era. It didn’t affect their sales at all. The real reason why Nintendo doesn’t want to make such games is because they know that the gamers will still not buy 3d Mario and Aonuma Zelda.
“[These are] the sort of people who, for example, might want to watch a movie. They might want to go to Disneyland,” he 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].“
Bold is my emphasis. The ‘more advanced games’ are the Gamecube-esque games. The more advanced games are 3d Mario and Aonuma Zelda.
What Miyamoto needs to realize is that the expanded audience didn’t reject those games because they were advanced, they rejected those games because they are mediocre games. 3d Mario and Aonuma Zelda are not fun. Expanded Audience had no problems with games like Mario Kart.
When confronted about bad Wii U sales, Miyamoto was asked if the poor software quality was the reason why. After all, fun software sells hardware. No hardware being sold means lack of fun software. Miyamoto would have none of it. He declared that the Wii U software was ‘quality’. Apparently, Miyamoto thinks his opinion is a force that trumps market reality.
Is it not amazing how the Gamecube has such ‘quality software’ yet it sells like… a Gamecube. But the Wii has such ‘terrible software’ yet it sells… like a Wii? Nintendo executives like Miyamoto have lived a charmed life. They are used to what they make being huge successes. From Donkey Kong to Mario to Zelda on to being smashed in the N64 and Gamecube. Miyamoto once said how even though he made Mario 64, he was jealous he didn’t make Tomogotchi instead as Tomogotchi vastly outsold Mario 64. (This Tomogotchi jealously likely turned into Nintendogs.) Miyamoto knows how to think properly so why isn’t he now? Perhaps it is because he is old, on the verge of retirement, and only wants to do what he wants.
Quality of Life better be bringing in the profits because Miyamoto’s current thinking is bankrupting Nintendo.