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The future of Nintendo, straight from the horse's mouth
The future of Nintendo, straight from the horse's mouth
January 30, 2014 | By Mike Rose

January 30, 2014 | By Mike Rose
Comments
    64 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Yesterday's Nintendo shareholder briefing was a particularly sprawling (and sometimes confusing) spectacle. Following disappointing third quarter results, the company was keen to stress that it isn't going to change its course -- but, well, maybe it might do if the correct scenario presents itself.

Updated notes from president Satoru Iwata's results briefing have shed additional light on what Nintendo is hoping to achieve in the coming years, and how the company plans to rise from the slump its currently experiencing.

Here, we've collated the main takeaways from Iwata's discussion, which spread wide and far across a variety of different topics.

"We are not planning to give up our own hardware systems and shift our axis toward other platforms."

"I am here to tell you about our future, and to begin with, I would like to mention what Nintendo will not change," Iwata began with -- although as we'll see later, he was maybe stretching the defintion of "will not change."

Nintendo says that it will continue to focus on console hardware and software as its core business, and that it plans to plug more cash into research and development for future hardware.

However, Iwata acknowledged that smart devices are altered lifestyles dramatically, and thus what gamers are potentially looking for. "We must once again change our definition of video games to keep up with the times," he said. "Nintendo’s history definitely suggests that Nintendo has always flexibly innovated itself in line with the times."

He said that Nintendo is currently exploring which video game elements from the past should be kept, "and what should be dramatically changed in order to leverage our core competency."

"Our top priority task this year is to offer software titles that are made possible because of the GamePad."

Nintendo isn't giving up on the Wii U, despite poor sales figures, Instead, the company hopes to finally explain to consumers exactly why the Wii U GamePad is so innovative, and why it isn't simply a slight step-up from the original Wii.

"We have managed to offer several of such software titles for occasions when many people gather in one place to play, but we have not been able to offer a decisive software title that enriches the user's gameplay experience when playing alone with the GamePad," he admitted. "This will be one of the top priorities of Mr. [Shigeru] Miyamoto's software development department this year."

He also noted that the company is yet to properly utilize the near-field communication on the GamePad, and says that in 2014, Nintendo will finally "make full use of this function by preparing multiple proposals." We should expect to see what the company has cooking at E3 in June.

Iwata also discussed the GamePad's quick start functionality as a means for grabbing attention -- we reported on that here.

"The number of companies who have approached Nintendo with an offer to provide Nintendo 3DS with the titles which they originally designed for and grew on smart devices has been increasing."

Turning to the Nintendo 3DS, Iwata was keen to note that while the hardware isn't selling as well as expected, it's still achieving high sales compared to other available hardware.

And he noted that, while plenty of people are calling for Nintendo to make a move on mobile, the opposite has begun to happen, as some large mobile companies are finding success on the 3DS.

GungHo's Puzzle & Dragons, for example, has now sold over 1 million units in less than a month on 3DS, while Rovio's Angry Birds Trilogy has topped half a million units sold -- barely comparable to mobile sales figures for both franchises, but of course, it's worth noting that retail prices of the 3DS installments are much higher.

"As this example illustrates, the Nintendo 3DS platform has already reached a scale with enough business potential for not only the titles invented for game devices, but also the ones originally made for other platforms," Iwata says. "With the overall software lineup, we aim to make this year and the next one a profit-generating phase for Nintendo 3DS."

"I have not given any restrictions to the [smartphone] development team, even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters."

Here's where it gets most interesting. While Nintendo has claimed recently that it won't be making smartphone games anytime soon, Iwata today admitted that it may well happen -- if the conditions are right.

"Many people say that releasing Nintendo's software assets for smart devices would expand our business," he said. "However, we believe that we cannot show our strength as an integrated hardware-software business in this field, and therefore it would difficult to continue the same scale of business in the medium- to long term."

Sounds like Nintendo isn't moving to mobile any time soon -- but wait! While mobile won't ever be Nintendo's core business, Iwata adds that the company is interested in developing for mobile in some form.

"We would like to, instead of directly expanding our business on smart devices, focus on achieving greater ties with our consumers on smart devices and expanding our platform business," he says.

He's putting together "a small, select team of developers" to act as Nintendo's smartphone experimentation studio, and he won't be giving them any restrictions on what they can produce.

"We feel that simply releasing our games just as they are on smart devices would not provide the best entertainment for smart devices, so we are not going to take any approach of this nature," he noted. "Having said that, however, in the current environment surrounding smart devices, we feel that we will not be able to gain the support of many consumers unless we are able to provide something truly valuable that is unique to Nintendo."

"Accordingly, I have not given any restrictions to the development team," he continued, adding, "even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters."

But we shouldn't expect the next Mario on smartphone, he warned. "It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings, so I would encourage you to see how our approach yields results."

"We will not rule out the idea of offering our own hardware for new markets."

At this point, Iwata discusses how Nintendo approaches "new markets", and notes that "for a large majority of consumers in the new markets... the current prices of hardware and software in the existing markets are generally difficult to accept."

He is no doubt referring to those audiences in specific regions who aren't as willing to pay premium prices for games, and who are more used to picking up games for 99 cents (or for free).

Following this, he says that "To leverage Nintendo’s strength as an integrated hardware-software business, we will not rule out the idea of offering our own hardware for new markets, but for dramatic expansion of the consumer base there, we require a product family of hardware and software with an entirely different price structure from that of the developed markets."

Iwata adds, "As you might know from today's topics of redefining the concept of a video game platform and taking advantage of smart devices, we aim to connect with consumers who do not own Nintendo’s video game systems yet, which will play an important role in cultivating new markets."

"Once we can establish such a connection with consumers in these nations, we will be able to use smart devices to share our information as well as important content distribution infrastructure. We plan to take significant steps toward such a new market approach in the year 2015."

"What Nintendo will try to achieve in the next 10 years is a platform business that improves people’s quality of life in enjoyable ways."

Iwata finishes up by discussing Nintendo's newly-announced focus on "quality of life" products.

"We decided to redefine our notion of entertainment as something that improves people's quality of life in enjoyable ways, and take a step forward in expanding our business areas," he noted.

Says Iwata, this definition includes Nintendo's regular video game platforms, but it also encapsulates a move into "a new business area" with the theme of health, rather than learning or lifestyle.

"Please note, however, that rather than simply setting health as our theme, Nintendo will also try to expand it in a new blue ocean," Iwata suggested -- and this will involve ducking around "the exceedingly crowded market of mobile applications or the market of wearable technology" and aiming for what Nintendo is calling "non-wearable technology."

Although he didn't really give a concrete examples of what "non-wearable tech" he was referring to, Iwata that said that Nintendo "are considering themes that we have not incorporated to games for our existing platforms. Including the hardware that will enable such an idea, we will aim to establish a blue ocean."

"Our new business domain would be providing preventive measures which would require us to enable people to monitor their health and offer them appropriate propositions," he added. Nintendo plans to create health software that people will want to use, rather than giving up on days into a regime.

Note that Iwata believes this tech will still be a long time coming, hence the 10 year plan.

An analyst's take

Piers Harding-Rolls of IHS Research wasn't really taken by the way that Nintendo is attempting to turn the tide for the Wii U, referring to the proposed improvements as "bitty" and "less than comprehensive."

"There was no mention of significant further investment in marketing to actually tell consumers what the Wii U is, and to make it clear it is different to the Wii," he noted.

Harding-Rolls saw Nintendo's quality of life push as the largest factor at play here, noting that "This higher risk approach does not always work out - see the Wii U for details - but IHS believes that this dependence on innovation and individuality is core to the company staying relevant beyond the short term and protecting the Nintendo brand value."

He adds that it's clear that Nintendo still has a huge amount of work to do to get itself back in shape, and that it's unlikely we'll see any immediate or significant change for the company any time soon. However, he notes that Nintendo should be considering how it prioritizes its internal budgets, as the way it organizes its various investments in the future will no doubt prove a notable challenge to overcome.


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Comments


John Paduch
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My only questions is: why is this guy still employed by Nintendo? How many executives have been shifted to lesser positions or outright fired by MS and Sony, for far less? Yet here he is, with Nintendo still struggling to keep up on basic concepts like "online play" and networking, horrible sales for the WiiU, and 3rd parties looking at Nintendo as if it has the plague. No, let's keep him in this same position, letting him make ridiculous and childish videos of him interacting with mario, and just HOPE that he can somehow turn things around.

I just don't get it.

Bob Fox
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"I just don't get it. "

They've been that way since the N64 era. First cartridges instead of CD's, then the gamecube with it's special 1.5GB discs vs 4.7GB DVD's which made porting for 99% of 3rd parties a no go. Then the Wii with it's underpowered hardware once again making 3rd party multiplatform ports impossible.

Nintendo's been screwing itself since the beginning. They never got that what made SNES #1 was third parties. You can't make a console on your own. They got massively lucky with the Wii and the Wii U is proof that the Wii was a one shot deal who sold mostly to non gamers (as we all said).

True gamers knew the Wii U was going to fail because of lack of games and the poor output from Nintendo on the Wii outside of mario.

Justin Kovac
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Wii U has more variety of games now than what the PS4/One offer. "True gamers" would know that and own one.


The thing is most gamers wanted next gen graphics for their BF4/CoD/Shooters/Sports titles and not many are aware the Wii U is new hardware offering Nintendo titles in HD.

Jay Anne
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When you're outside looking in, you only have a tiny subset of information. People like to play armchair quarterback about the inner workings of a company, but if you've ever held a high level position at a large company, you'd know that things get very complicated, and almost none of that complication is evident via public information. I would say the reason you don't get it is that there's likely a much larger complicated story behind what's happening. And any solution isn't always as simple as "fire the one guy whose name you actually know because he's the only one who addresses the public."

Josh Charles
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It's simple, really.

A) Nintendo is primarily a Japanese company with a Japanese corporate culture which is not the same as our western corporate culture.

B) Firing Iwata does nothing when the whole company shares his philosophy. Everyone from Iwata to Miyamoto to Reggie on down believe in the Nintendo way which is to offer unique experiences through innovative hardware and software.

Sure lot's of people would love for Nintendo to not be Nintendo and to be like all the other big players but it would seem that ultimately, their investors are confident that Nintendo can focus on their strengths by doubling down on their hardware/software strategy and work to address their weaknesses related to that (as was mentioned during the investor meeting).

John Paduch
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@Justin - Your mistake is assuming the WiiU is "next-gen" and belongs in a group that only includes the PS4 and Xbox1. The WiiU is on-par with 360 and PS3 technology, and needs to be compared to all 4 other consoles. When you do that, your silly argument goes out the window.

Also, stop with the "true gamers" bullshit right here and now. It's a garbage statement with no meaning, other than to make people see you as an irrational fanboy who judges everyone else based on himself. Just stop it.

Nick Harris
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The Wii was a success because it attracted a broader demographic with simple gesture based controls and games based on sports to which they already knew the rules from real life. It was super accessible, yet over time got players to use more of its features as they gradually mastered the interface a bit at a time. If you put an ordinary gamepad in their hands they would hold it like a dead fish, unsure what to do with it and slightly repulsed by its ugliness.

Nintendo have copied the wrong console by making the Wii U not a sequel to the Wii, but a sequel to the DS for living rooms already well served by a HD TV. The news that they intend to develop more titles that will showcase the touchscreen controller is laudable, but to my mind they need to forget it as fast as they did their Virtual Boy and bring out something that uses a pair of wireless Nunchuks and precise electromagnetic field tracking similar to the Razer Hydra or STEM.

As this is quite a complicated proposal I wrote about it at length on my blog:

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/NickHarris/20140129/209544/Iwata_i
snt_Nintendos_problem_Its_Shiota.php

I agree that the Nintendo way is to offer unique experiences through innovative hardware and software, but I feel that the Wii U touchscreen frightened away many prospective casual consumers with it apparent complexity, the marketing message was confused, with some thinking it was yet another Wii peripheral not a new console, and through its design it threw away everything its broader base of users had learnt about motion controls with Nunchuks making them feel dumb and alienated again.

Time to start developing the Wii 3.

Bob Fox
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@ justin and Jay anne

3 generations of consoles means your arguments are moot. Gamecube was underwhelming vs PS2 and Xbox. Nintendo allowed competitors to enter the console space instead of taking that money for themselves.

The reason Nintendo slipped from #1 during the SNES era was all about their poor decisions regarding third parties and just bizzare culture of Nintendo as a company. Japanese developers have been slowly learning the power of the western market. From software the developers of dark souls and capcom were at the forefront of porting japanese games to PC. Now darksouls 2 will hit all platforms and also make a killing on PC.

Without the games outside of Nintendo, Nintendo is on a sinking ship. They simply can't hold up so many properties by themselves.

Justin Kovac
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It was in reply to Bob using the words. I took it as meaning gamers who appreciate a variety of good games and gameplay options, which the Wii U offers (unless you want shooters and a good online infrastructure for multiplayer).

Its next-gen for Nintendo's platform. Its the first to offer HD Mario. Why are Cod/BF4/AssCreed the top selling on PS4/One? You could play that on your 360 or PS3. Gamers wanted a next-gen update to what they currently buy every 1-2 years. I have talked to people who did not care what system they got, just as long as they got new hardware to play Madden with better graphics. The gameplay is practically no different than the 360/PS3 version.

Wii U is the first Nintendo platform offering Mario, Zelda, etc in HD. Much like the PS3/360 were promoted heavily as hardware that offered HD (for the most part) graphics. They should be promoting that fact since consumers do care about graphics. Which is why no one is buying Wii U to play Black Flag, CoD etc while their PS3/One plays it just as good.

Bob Johnson
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@John

FAr less? Execs at Sony and MS have lost way more money the past 8 years than Nintendo so not sure what you're talking about.

Iwata made Nintendo a megaton of money over the past 8 years. That's one reason he's still there.

And not sure you've figured this out but Nintendo isn't interested in being the 3rd western 3rd party AAA console nor is it interested in doing the same online play the PS and Xbox consoles do. Nintendo is also targeting families and younger kids and their mascot is Mario and the company is run by creatives as much as execs. Hence silly videos interacting with Mario.

Daniel Boy
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This is heating up!

Maybe we can first start defining what "Next Gen" means this time around before we throw consoles out the window?

1080p? 60fps? 3D? Rift? Second screen?
Stable multiplayer? 256 people on one Map? MMOs? Twitch? New forms of interaction?
Touch/ voice/ camera input? Cloud computing? AI?
Good developer support? Indie-friendly? Middleware?
Nice online marketplace? Casual-friendly? F2P?

Depending on what we may decide on all three "new" consoles might not be "true" next gen but poor pretenders.

Brian Peterson
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He's still employed by Nintendo because they can remember events that occurred over a year ago. Here's what happened since Iwata became president in 2002:

The Wii was a huge hit that outsold every other home console in its generation.

The DS was the best-selling handheld of all time, despite performing poorly its first year.

While not reaching DS sales records yet, sales of the 3DS have improved immensely, despite performing poorly its first year.

The Wii U has performed poorly its first year.

Eric Harris
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@John
You can't be serious. Wii U Hardware is way more advanced than Xbox360 or PS3. It is not as advanced as XBone or PS4, but saying it is "on par" with the last gen is an outright lie. You might not like it, but the stuff that is being put out by XBone and PS4 can easily run on the Wii U.

Sean Wilton
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Well of course they do, the system's been out for over a year. Give the XB1 and PS4 time and they will catch up and surpass the Wii U.

The Wii U's problem is not just its name, its the fact that its 8 year old hardware being passed off as new.

Sean Wilton
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Actually most developers say its less powerful then PS3 and about par with the 360. Its also harder to develop for then 360...

Also there's NO way anything being done on PS4/XBO can be done on Wii U unless you strip the game down to "Low" settings and turn off almost every feature that makes it "Next Gen".. Which in turn just makes it a horrible port of a Next Gen game.

Mike Rentas
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Iwata is the problem.

James Coote
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How about a GamePad jam involving all the indie developers signed up with Nintendo (and anyone else with a Wii-U devkit), to generate some cool ideas for how to use the GamePad?

Jay Anne
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Their core problem is not lack of cool ideas. Their core problem is that at the levels of business they need to be, namely large public corporations, you aren't making good money by selling software anymore. Even in cases of large console publishers like Activision and EA, while it may seem like they are selling software, they are not. They are selling content. This is why only sequels and franchises are making money. While it may seem like selling the next Call of Duty is selling software, it is really just selling a content pack. It's a largely $60 content pack for people who were already playing Call of Duty.

Michael Pianta
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Then are you saying AAA (and by extension, consoles and retail games) is dead, as a viable business model? I mean as far as I can tell Nintendo already makes lots of sequels, so maybe they're tapped out?

James Coote
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This is something I still don't understand about the AAA world of game development. There is a risk that if one of your blockbuster franchises flops, you lose out big time. So while it appears that you're removing risk by concentrating on well-known franchises, you are just shifting it: Concentrating risk into a less likely "flop" scenario, that if it does come to pass, will be all the more damaging.

Dropping the gamepad would be an epic loss of face, so that's not going to happen, but at the same time, nothing is going to persuade Activision or EA to put their core franchises on Wii-U, simply because it's not worth the risk to experiment with it and get it wrong.

If Nintendo can't rely on those big publishers, it needs an alternative pipeline for creating new franchises. That's inherently risky, so you mitigate it by scaling things down and shifting risk onto 3rd parties. Hence game jam.

Josh Charles
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Fantastic idea

John Paduch
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For Sony (with a strong non-japanese component to its games division) and MS, this would be a great idea. For Nintendo, with its notoriously stubborn japanese corporate culture, I doubt very much that this would change anything.. and that's assuming they'd greenlight (or even acknowledge with positive publicity) such an event to begin with.

Alex Rose
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This is a really cool idea, and it could spread to everyone with a Wii U in the next year with the advancements made on modding the Wii U pad to work on PC.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8YgVVtNRjg

At Chaos Communications Convention they showed Dolphin successfully running, though crashing. If more progress is made there, a jam could totally happen that anyone with a PC and a Wii U pad could get involved with.

Jay Anne
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@James Coote
Nintendo spends hundreds of millions on R&D every year, with some of the most brilliant game designers of the industry. I like your idea to open it up to other indie developers too, but it's unlikely that the missing piece in the puzzle was holding game jams. Nintendo makes a metric ton of game design prototypes.

I suspect something that does hold them back is a fervent need for perfection and innovation. They refuse to release anything but the most polished games. And they refuse to make clones of any kind. This culture would not have led to Minecraft, Dota, Candy Crush, Farmville, The Sims, or any of the big things of the past decade. This may be what keeps all their R&D efforts from finding the next big thing. But once again, game jams won't fix that culture.

@Michael Pianta
I don't think anyone truly knows what will happen to AAA games. Most people would not predict it to die in the next 5 years. But in the next 10 or 15? Growth is slowing, costs are rising, talent is exiting, markets being increasingly undercut. Amidst all this, Nintendo's culture prohibits them from aggressively adopting new ways to monetize, so they will likely remain a company that makes money by selling premium software and by profiting on hardware. Two things that are becoming increasingly difficult to do.

James Coote
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Nintendo don't have a monopoly on ideas. Moreover, they can only bring a few of those prototypes to fully realised products. The more risky ones you get 3rd parties to do on their own backs, and if they pull it off, it's win-win.

I think at the moment, for small 3rd parties, it tends to be they want to bring their existing game to Wii-U, not make a game based around the gamepad specifically.

Plus it's also a marketing exercise. A gamejam is all about "fostering innovation and talent, helping the little guys" blah blah

If you wanted a publicity stunt, you could pit Nintendo's famed game designers against the indie developers in a 48 hour jam / competition. Let the public vote on which game prototype is the best!

Benjamin Quintero
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Alex - I saw this video and immediately saw the cool factor here. I would LOVE to see Nintendo release a driver/api for WiiU Gamepad much like Microsoft did for Kinect. It could be a huge boost for Nintendo, especially if they started selling the Gamepad at a profitable price point. The Gamepad may become larger than the console in the short-term but could spark new developers to join the 3rd party group under Nintendo.

Josh Charles
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I guess I'll follow up to my first point saying that this is a fantastic idea.

First, I think we should open this up to include developers who aren't signed up with Nintendo. As some have alluded to, I don't think the value is in the ideas that may or may not come out of doing something like this. Nintendo has the resources for a lot of that as it is.

Rather, I think the value lies in getting dev kits in front of indie developers who may not have otherwise had access to or experimented with the Wii-U yet. The networking and relationship building opportunities and event like this provides could be especially valuable for Nintendo long-term if managed and conducted properly.

James Coote
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Actually, I just remembered, Nintendo did a game jam with the Wii-U late last year in Ireland (I forget exactly where). But it wasn't well advertised, both before and after the event.

Also, that was using their Web Framework, whereas it'd probably be better for them to make Unity the focus (at least going by last weekend's Global Game Jam, where about 80% of games at my site were made using Unity).

The practical problem is the devkits are all covered by NDA's and strict controls over who gets one. I think the whole concept of a devkit is a bit of an anachronism and an anathema to indie game development, but I can't imagine Nintendo just throwing the doors open overnight to whoever fancies making a Wii-U game for the weekend.

Also, personally, I signed up to the big 3 console maker's indie programs at roughly the same time, and so far, I've only got a Wii-U devkit on my desk to show from it. So a Wii-U game jam would be a good way to maximise my own use of it.

Christian Nutt
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The Web Framework is actually pretty decent, inasmuch as you can use HMTL5 engines like Impact.js with it!

Eric Harris
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@ Jay Anne
I think you should realize that of all the companies involved in video games, Nintendo is one of the most profitable. It may not appear to you that they have done very well, but they have anywhere from $7-$11 billion in cash. Their debts are under $10 million according to Forbes. Sony, MS, EA, and a whole host of other companies can not say that.

The issues with the Wii U can easily be fixed. MS, and Sony and those who want to max out that much hardware have an uphill battle. At least Nintendo is sustainable.

Jay Anne
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@Eric Harris
That is a very good and important point that speaks to their short term health. But as many have pointed out, cash reserves and a profitable history are merely a runway on which you must find a way to become profitable in the future. A public company's health is often going to be measured by growth potential, and I do not believe most people see that in their current console situation nor in their future as a console platform maker.

Are you saying that their Wii U division can get to profitability? Can you give evidence for why you believe this?

Eric Harris
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@ Jay Anne
Sure can. Nintendo loses money only on it's console(and not as nearly as much as XBone/PS4). They make a ton of money on every other accessory. You wont buy a Wii Fit U, but your girlfriend will. When she does, Nintendo makes money. Other QoL will generate more of that kind of revenue. Considering the Wii U core system and all of it's components(controllers, etc), The hardware is more profitable than any competitor. People will buy the Wii U as more games come out for it. Just like they did when the whole 3DS v. Vita was going on. outside of the CoD/AC/Madden, etc.. crowd, the XBone/PS4 launch titles have largely disappointed people.

Jay Anne
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@Eric Harris
Your post hinges on one point: that more people will buy the Wii U (in enough numbers) as more games come out for it. While other platforms can be used as examples of why it could stage a comeback, there are known reasons working against the Wii U. Nintendo has development issues that slow down their new titles, which they publicly acknowledged. There is a marked difference between a console platform and a handheld platform, so the 3DS comparison may not be apt. For one, they were able to fix many of the marketing issues of the 3DS using the 2DS. It's unclear how Nintendo will fix the marketing issues with the Wii U, namely its brand confusion with the Wii 1, as well as clearer messaging about its Gamepad. Another reason to question the 3DS analogy is that the Wii U's price may be holding it back, whereas the 3DS was able to drastically cut its price as well as spinning off the 2DS line. Also, its current situation is much worse than any recent consoles have ever been (http://imageshack.us/a/img4/442/xvyx.jpg). When attempting to dig yourself out of a hole, you must ask first how deep that hole really is.

Eric Harris
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@Jay Anne

1. What development issues? That Eurogamer.net article? That stuff has been fixed.

2. Is the architecture different than Sony/MS? Yes, but its strengths are its GPU. If developers take advantage of that, they can make some very impressive stuff for the Wii U.

3. The Unity engine supports the Wii U and its input devices, so there is a free well supported game engine to use to develop for Nintendo.

Is the Western market confused? Yes but nothing good PR and Marketing can not fix.

Jay Anne
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@Eric Harris

1. They're taking too long to make games. What evidence is there that it has been fixed? It will have been fixed when they are releasing games at the frequency that makes the Wii U profitable.

2. Yes, I never questioned its architecture.

3. Unity support is nice, but lack of third party support has far more to do with install base and software sales numbers. The ability to make games more easily does not matter so much if nobody will buy your game.

Unless you are a marketing guru and have clear evidence for why, I don't see why you would write off their Wii U marketing problems as fixable. Nintendo is betting that smartphone support of some kind will bring in enough new users, but that is uncharted territory and its success or even any tangible details about its implementation remain to be seen.

Eric Harris
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@ Jay Anne
This is a silly argument now.
Here:
1. http://www.vg247.com/2014/01/13/wii-u-complaints-based-on-pre-ret
ail-sdk-console-not-more-difficult-than-rivals-devs-say/

3. Third party developers will come in when the Wii U sales figures increase. 1st party, 2nd party, and indy developers should be enough to sale the system. Remember quality is always better than quantity.

Marketing:
http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/library/events/140130/index.html
They are aware of the of the disconnect and are putting things in place to help consumers understand by the end of the year.

There is your evidence.

Jay Anne
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@Eric Harris
1. The issue is not quality of development software or SDKs. It's about the increases in expected production value, polish, and product scope, which makes them take longer to make. It's a glaring obvious issue that has been affecting the entire industry for many years, and perhaps Nintendo has been able to largely avoid it until now. But they are probably feeling the pain now just like everybody else.

3. When you say 1st party, 2nd party, sales are enough to kickstart the platform to attract many 3rd party developers, you're making a very broad generalized claim that has not been true for a Nintendo console for a long time. Even with the huge install base of the Wii, the general wisdom for console developers was that 3rd party sales were not great, particularly for core games. That is only made worse by the fact that many of those third party developers don't exist anymore.

I'm glad that they'll try to fix things on the marketing end. I hope it will work. But they cannot change many major things, such as brand names, hardware spec, first impressions, etc. It's a very interesting challenge to watch unfold.

Eric Harris
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1. Okay I agree, but how is this a Nintendo problem if it affects everyone? Nintendo is completely capable of handling HD and great looking graphics.

3. Tell me which 3rd party game made the Wii/Gamecube/N64 a success?

Marouf Arnaout
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Hopefully, Nintendo either gives in and starts making games for third party consoles or they make a proper next-gen console that can easily support blockbuster third party games and comes with a more traditional controller. They could even keep all the Wii stuff as an add-on in the same way the Xbox has the kinect and PlayStation the move. I don't know about other people but I know that if there was a console I could play both GTA V or Skyrim and Mario Kart on I'd buy it in a heartbeat. and while, they may have to wait for the next generation of consoles to do so, they could at least release an alternative controller for the Wii U which I think would give developers more incentive to make games for the system.

Eric Harris
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Yeah but they don't make enough money that way. And if you chose GTA V over Mario Kart, what is preventing you from buying a Wii U, like you bought a XBone/PS4 for GTA V? I think it is very telling, you prefer GTA over Mario Kart. Therefore, you prefer PS4/XBone to Mario Kart. The systems must make exclusive software to survive, otherwise it is just comparing hardware.

Luis Blondet
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Wow. No Pokemon or Zelda MMO for the Wii U? No 2-D sandbox with Mario characters?

WTF is wrong with Nintendo!? Fans everywhere are sitting here waiting for a good reason to give them our money. smh

Christian Nutt
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Zelda MMO sounds like a good idea to you? Honestly?

Not trying to be flip, just don't see what "MMO" has to do with what's good about that franchise, at all.

Jay Anne
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@Christian Nutt
Four Swords gameplay on an MMO server perhaps?

Josh Charles
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Fans everywhere seem to be buying those franchises just fine as they are.

Eric Harris
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@ Luis
Which MMOs have been making the kind of money Nintendo makes?

Jay Anne
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@Eric Harris
Dungeon Fighter Online revenues were $426 million in 2013. MapleStory's revenues were $326 million in 2013. Those are two games that are within Nintendo's wheelhouse.

Christian Nutt
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Online Four Swords would be fantastic, and could actually work well as a lobby/instance based game like Monster Hunter, but an MMO... no.

A Pokemon MMO doesn't seem to be required because 11m+ sales of XY since October don't REALLY suggest a problem with the appeal of that particular franchise in its current form.

Eric Harris
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@ Jay Anne
Yes but look at the market as a whole. MMOs are Massively More riskier than designing a a single title with a good IP. . BTW they wont make that much next year(http://massively.joystiq.com/2013/04/02/nexon-closing-north-ameri
can-dungeon-fighter-online/). Nintendo would be making a huge mistake to take on that much operating cost.

Jay Anne
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@Christian Nutt
Good point. Though the line between a instance based game and an MMO can be blurred nowadays. People generally don't question that Guild Wars 1 was an MMORPG.

@Eric Harris
Yes, not only are they riskier, Nintendo has very little experience there, as well as they likely have the wrong kind of culture to support its development. Plus they don't really have a great hardware platform to put it on. But it's just fun to think about. Because as Nintendo itself has said, they are in a bind and they need something new to generate revenue.

Eric Harris
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@ Jay Anne
Phantasy Star Online worked for the Dreamcast, and MMOs can run on the weakest of hardware. Gamecube ran Phantasy Star Online. I see where you are coming from, MMOs are an option.

Wylie Garvin
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"However, Iwata acknowledged that smart devices are altered lifestyles dramatically"

Perhaps this sentence are a wrong word in it ?

Jake Ritchie
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I won't pretend I understand the business enough to tell say what they should do but what I do know this: If Nintendo started to release games from their main series on Steam, myself and about 30+ of my friends, family and co-workers would snatch them right up. None of these acquaintances are willing to drop a cent on a Wii U or 3DS, however.

It seems to me that A LOT of kids who grew up on Nintendo in the late 80's and 90's have dropped consoles and switched to PC, unless the area around me is an anomaly.

Kids today know and care more about Angry Birds and MineCraft than Mario and Zelda. I think Nintendo over-estimates the power of it's influence with the youngsters. It might help them to try to tap in to existing fans and be less concerned about converting new ones.

Just saying, that's how it looks from here.

Eric Harris
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Interesting point of view, but can you explain why you would not buy a Wii U console(assuming you had the money) to play a Wii U game, but will buy the game from Steam on a PC?

Bob Johnson
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@Jake

You forgot 2006-2010 when Mario Kart and Super Mario Bros sold 25 million on the Wii and even more on the DS. And how successful those machines were.

Also I don't think there are many old adults who grew up in the 80s who would buy a lot of Nintendo games on STeam and yet never would buy a Nintendo console. It doesn't make a ton of sense. Yes I can see how many might only want a game or two, and thus wouldn't get a console. ...but if you really wanted to play Nintendo games you'd buy their consoles or handhelds. They really aren't very expensive especially if you wait a few years after launch and consider resale value after a few years.

Scott Lavigne
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@Bob

As one such person, it makes sense to me. I've owned every Nintendo console since the NES until the Wii U and had all the handhelds until the DS.

As a young teenager whose entertainment budget was limited by my parents, I regretted having asked for a GCN near the end of its life (but Melee is my second most hours logged for a game ever) with probably only 12 titles owned, half of which I disliked. I got a PS2 two years or so after release and spent most of my time on that instead (thanks to 3rd party titles).

I did the same thing with the Wii. I was a bit older, so I had some money of my own to spend, but still not much. I ended up with maybe 5 titles for my Wii that I played to any notable extent. Friends and I played Brawl and Mario Kart for brief stints, but most of our get-togethers focused on 360 or PS2. I built my first PC a few years ago and bought a PS3 a little over a year ago. I have about 15 titles for PS3, and only regret buying a couple. I've already spent way more time on my PS3 than I ever did on my Wii, which I probably haven't turned on in 3 years.

I bought a PSP over the DS. The hardware was very apparently worse, I didn't care about what the touchscreen offered, and with time, I saw how poorly the touch screens held up to natural wear (although as I didn't own one myself, this could just be roughness from the user, irrelevant either way). There were a handful of titles I was interested in over the DS's life (just like ended up being true of the GCN and Wii), but not enough to split the premium of the hardware across the price, especially when I didn't want to play those titles on the unit anyways. Pretty much all of this has been true for the 3DS as well.

I feel bad paying a premium for a handheld (that I'll only use at home), for a touch screen, for 3D, for weak hardware (in the case of the Wii U). Because I get no inherent value from the hardware, I'm effectively just paying a higher price on each game that I want, with that amount becoming less as I buy more games. There's no title for Wii U that I will pay over $100 for yet. I doubt there ever will be. I doubt, based on history, that there will be enough games I care about for that price to become reasonable. I've never cared about Nintendo's hardware. Ever. I want their software, but I've learned over the last decade that there's tons of great software on other platforms, in comparable quality and greater amounts with some actual inherent value in the hardware I pay a premium for, that I don't need to buy their hardware anymore.

I want Mario. I want Zelda. I don't want a Wii U. If the next Zelda (for example) ends up NEEDING the little bit of exclusive capability the Wii U offers, I'm honestly probably not interested in it anyways, another thing that Nintendo has made an effort to teach players over the Wii's life. If they release all their first party titles for Wii U and I'm still interested in them near the end of the Wii U's life, I may pick them up, with everything at reduced prices, but there's no way I can justify buying the hardware before then.

Andy Lundell
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Trading primarily on Nostalgia is risky.

It causes your age block to drift upwards, and makes it harder to attract people at the young end of the scale. Long term this causes a downward trend in numbers.

The (mainstream American) comic book industry go locked into this problem badly around the year 2000, and their solution was to be bought out by movie companies. I'm not sure Nintendo would have that out.

Douglas Scheinberg
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If Nintendo made a phone, would you buy it?

Scott Lavigne
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Potentially, but I doubt it. The titles I care about from Nintendo don't translate very well to all-touch, and I don't think they could tack on anything similar to a gamepad without it being cumbersome. I'd love to be proven wrong, but I doubt I will be.

Also, I feel like a Nintendo phone could very easily be a detriment to them with younger audiences if not handled well. Kids today already get real phones, the same toys the adults use, and they get to be responsible for them. If a Nintendo phone comes with heavy nanny features (like a lot of their software does), I could see having a Nintendo phone becoming a point of teasing for kids. That's pretty speculative, though. By no means am I an expert on the related fields.

Jonathan Murphy
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$11 million Nintendo. Pay me, or hire someone who can fix your mess soon. Portable isn't their problem. It's the console.

SD Marlow
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I guess this Campbell's commercial came out a few months ago, but I just saw it for the first time tonight (because I'm down too about 2 hours of worthwhile TV a week). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaUmcgt87U0

If that is the level of awareness they are shooting for... well it's going to be a very bad year for them.

Jay N
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Well, at least Nintendo now has a plan, a «10 year plan», something they seem to have severely lacked in the past. There was a time a Nintendo console wouldn't launch without a flagship title. The GCN, Wii and Wii U (and the 3DS) all launched without one, and all but one have underperformed compared to the company's expectations. Just goes to show how important it is to have a well-functioning production pipeline if you're going to pull the weight all by yourself.

Bob Johnson
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THe reality there is a reason for this. Games take a lot longer to make nowadays than they pre-GameCube.

they just can't make a flagship title years in advance of when the hardware actually comes out. They are usually still supporting the current platform. And their next hardware isn't ironed out yet.

Huck Terrister
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"I am here to tell you about our future, and to begin with, I would like to mention what Nintendo will not change"

Saying a lot with a little, there.

Francisco Javier Espejo Gargallo
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Nintendo Brand is so powerfull and still they got so much to improve... the problem with Nintendo is that they mus kep their IPs relevant, or they will be in the horror task o getting relevant IPs from scratch.

By the Way, for me, what Nintendo is lacking the most are: A) Game series continues B) Social games.

Think that they should go that route on game apart from looking to new markets like Quality of Life.


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