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Nintendo: We may have underestimated the shift to HD
Nintendo: We may have underestimated the shift to HD
July 8, 2013 | By Mike Rose

July 8, 2013 | By Mike Rose
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    17 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Nintendo has admitted that the shift to high-definition visuals on the Nintendo Wii U, and the scale of work required to make this shift, has taken the company by surprise.

Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto explained as part of the company's latest shareholder meeting that the work required to create HD visuals for Nintendo games such as the upcoming Pikmin 3 was perhaps more than his company was anticipating.

"When it comes to the scale of software development, Wii U with HD graphics requires about twice the human resources than before," he noted.

"Please allow me to explain that we may have underestimated the scale of this change," he added. This is what led to the release delay for Pikmin 3: "The overall software development took more time than originally anticipated just as we tried to polish the software at the completion phase of development."

However, the company has a plan to streamline future HD game development. The Nintendo Web Framework, first announced at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year, will lead to an easier development approach, Miyamoto said.

The Nintendo Web Framework "provides a way of developing Wii U software using open web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript" as well as Unity.


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Comments


Jakub Majewski
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Nintendo had something like half a decade to observe other companies who had made the shift to HD on the X360 and PS3. If it is true that they underestimated the cost of the transition - well, then that's a genuinely remarkable thing. It's not that Nintendo lacks foresight and vision - they have plenty of both. But it almost sounds like their vision is like that of a horse pulling a cart, with blinders on both sides so he won't get distracted...

Dane MacMahon
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Yeah, that a company as experienced and large as Nintendo could think a Wii title in 720p resolution was all they needed is surprising.

Merc Hoffner
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My personal theory is that they were well aware of the exploding costs associated with 7th gen HD and up, and were trying to invent ways around it while relying on middleware improvements to make up the rest. The problem is that they've failed to date. The kitchen sink approach for the DS control scheme proved a fertile ground for new play concepts that allowed for appealing games that didn't substantially increase the player complexity or development depth. The Wii U was supposed to take the same approach, and we can those efforts in Nintendo Land, but it simply hasn't made good. To compensate they're trying to fill out with more red-ocean approach development and encountering the anticipated problems - in actuallity they're trying to keep this economic as well - the games they were showing at this year's E3 were still technically and graphically conservative, and a 2X increase in production scale seems massively more economic than the industry average between PS2 and PS3. But the problem remains: They've had since at least 2008 to come up with games, ideas and solutions. Conservatism and a lean internal capacity has not served over this time.

Cordero W
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"Conservatism and a lean internal capacity has not served over this time."

This is the one thing I do like the most about Nintendo and is why I respect their company and their development processes. They are aware of technological advances because they have stated before that technology drives innovation, but they aren't too aggressive as to go after the high end technology to keep both development costs and time down. This is a plus to them and I rather not have them change.

Merc Hoffner
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They've been in the business of single handedly developing and supporting two systems (five or six in succession). As it turns out this is eminently possible, but even when trying to keep power advances at commodity level and maximizing the use of inexpensive innovation, at a scratch over 5000 employees they're stretched ridiculously thin at a 7th gen level. For comparison, Rockstar has teams of 1000 for individual games and take years to make each. I'm not saying that's a good comparison, but my primary criticism of Nintendo is that they've had the time and the money to improve their throughput - routinely their real source of woe for 18 years, and haven't yet managed to tackle it.

Their restraint is of course highly commendable - they're supremely profitable when times are great, utterly sustainable when times are lean, and they'll never have to fire anyone even if times are 'terrible'. But with such a vast war chest they can and should afford to be more aggressive with development and production. I've said it before but flush with cash they should have and could have bought and reformed excellent but failing studios. Monolith was a good move. What about Cing? And Platinum?

Their innovation and craftsmanship is great. A lack of games ready for years on end is not. In just a few years we saw the titanic emergence of Nintendogs, Wii Fit, Wii Sports, Brain Training, Animal Crossing, etc. Despite time and cash Wii U is being propelled by NintendoLand practically on its lonesome, with little revalatory on the release horizon. Not for lack of trying, but possibly for lack of resource.

Tommy Hearns
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I'm tired of Nintendo being treated like they exist in some sort of vacuum. Ever since they said with the Wii that they weren't competing with Sony and MS, all their fans took them at face value and parrot that crap whenever Nintendo looks bad in the shadow of the other companies, like this article. But whenever they have some good things to report relative to the other companies, they have plenty of charts comparing 3DS outselling hand-helds and consoles from Sony. They can't have it both ways. They exist in a world where similar companies have been doing this for 7 years without whining about it. Besides, I thought even since the early 2000s developers have been creating assets at HD resolutions and reducing them down to work on the previous gen while anticipating the HD consoles. No excuses.

Joe Zachery
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Nintendo is the only company that gets judge by the media harshly. The Vita has been on the market a year longer, with even fewer support from 1st, and 3rd party. Where are the what the hell Sony is doing articles.

Jakub Majewski
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Joe, the difference between Nintendo and Sony's Vita is that there are people who care about Nintendo. Vita is so far below radar, no one even bothers to criticise it.

Brian Lockett
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I'll post my consideration of this issue as a Pastebin link posted below, to avoid posting it as a lengthy comment here. It's not terribly long at all, but it'll probably look longer than it actually is if posted here. These word-wrapped comment sections tend to make your writing look longer than it actually is.

Best results with responding to my consideration, I recommend actually reading it and not merely glancing. Reasonable criticism is welcomed.

http://pastebin.com/zSQnm95i

Sterling Reames
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Welcome to 2006 Nintendo.

Eric Pobirs
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Exactly. They should be hugely embarrassed to be making such an admission in 2013, half a decade after every other developer in existence spoke of the difficulty of the transition.

Andrew Grapsas
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"The Nintendo Web Framework, first announced at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year, will lead to an easier development approach, Miyamoto said."

Huh? How is HTML5 going to make this any more streamlined? What? Maybe he means they are going to lower the quality threshold of their products and that will resolve the HD issues?

Christian Kulenkampff
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Web developers fight with different screen resolutions since the beginning of hypermedia. Microsoft uses HTML for GUIs for a long time and they constantly evolve their frameworks. PhoneGap etc. also rely on HTML. I think using HTML5 for GUI is a really good approach, just think about how ScaleForm UI changed GUI development. HTML5 & CSS3 might not offer such rich interactivity at first sight, but it is there.

Kim Pallister
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Jakub hit the nail on the head. That Nintendo didn't learn from the world around them from 2005 to present, speaks a lot to their approach to the business.

Cordero W
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If they didn't learn from the world around them, then why did they have the most profitable console last generation?

Merc Hoffner
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"most profitable" implies they were all profitable.

Edit: Wink Wink

Joe Zachery
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They weren't all profitable. Last time I checked Nintendo has open more studios, and jobs. While everyone else is closing them down, and firing people.


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