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Nintendo can be about more than video games, says Iwata
Nintendo can be about more than video games, says Iwata
April 28, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

April 28, 2014 | By Alex Wawro
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    12 comments
More: Console/PC, Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing



"Yamauchi was one to always say ‘Nintendo is a company for entertainment, and it shouldn’t be for anything else,’ and he didn’t necessarily think that ‘entertainment equals video games.'"
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata elucidates the genesis of his "quality of life" rhetoric in an interview with Japanese business reporting website Diamond.

Iwata surprised many when, in the course of January's Nintendo shareholders meeting, he promised that Nintendo would strive to become a platform business that aims to "improve people's quality of life" in the next ten years.

Today, Siliconera published translated excerpts of an interview that Japanese economic reporting outlet Diamond conducted with Iwata in which he takes pains to explain how Nintendo's new direction really isn't so novel.

To hear Iwata tell it, Nintendo -- which also created hanafuda cards, novelty toys, and a TV network before getting into video games -- is an entertainment company focused on "improving people's quality of life with fun," rather than on a specific medium.

"Surely, a lot of people around the world must think ‘Nintendo is a company that is just for video games,’ about us, and I believe that there are more and more of our own employees who’ve begun to think like that," Iwata reportedly told Diamond.

"I finally figured that ‘improving people’s quality of life with fun,’ with emphasis to the ‘fun’ would be perfect for Nintendo. And that’s when I decided to use this as a focus."

You can read further translated excerpts of the interview, including Iwata's thoughts on the directives of former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi, on Siliconera.


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Comments


John Paduch
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They sure seem to be emphasizing this concept a lot, lately. I wonder if it's signalling a dramatic shift in focus, away from the industry most of us are readily familiar with (PAX, E3, GDC, Sony/MS, the whole environment that surrounds them), and more onto a path of their own making, with the classic idea of "video game" being only one aspect of it.

George Menhal III
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I think that before Iwata decides to take Nintendo on a ride down a new path, he will be fired. He hasn't convinced anyone anywhere that QOL will turn any more profit for Nintendo than their current failed home console. His days are numbered and at this point I think he pretty much knows it. Whether that bodes well for the future of Nintendo or not is anyone's guess.

Jeferson Soler
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@ George Menhal III - I doubt that he will be fired and I wouldn't be surprised if did convince people about QoL being able to turn a profit. For that matter, his days are far from numbered. Saying that he's going to get fired is showing lack of understanding about the Japanese culture. Not to mention, he was the one that was chosen by Yamauchi, and after Yamauchi's passing, I started to realize that Yamauchi was right about couple things when it came to the videogame industry. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the higher-ups from western companies, which is why the videogame industry is very shaky right now.

Mike Griffin
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The game industry is doing rather well right now, especially for Western devs.

The previous console generation sold over 260 million units combined, the new consoles are selling better than forecast, PC gaming is more popular than ever, mobile gaming still rides its current boom, VR gaming is close to legit, indies are empowered, etc.

It only looks very shaky for Nintendo right now, and even that is just isolated to the Wii U, really.

As for the QoL initiative, in a sense this is Nintendo investors panicking about Wii U and Iwata making quick plans:

"How did we move 100 million Wii consoles? What was drawing all those people to the console? How did we capture millions of non-gamers? Was it the accessible motion controls, the active player movement, getting people off the couch and exercising in games for all ages? That must have been it!

Think about all the mainstream press that received in every territory! Let's go down that path again, but really focus on a wider range of quality of life products for all people.

Chasing traditional gamers doesn't seem to be working so far on Wii U; we won't give up on it, but we need another angle that generates as much mainstream buzz as the original Wii -- and that's the Quality of Life With Fun initiative, and our new wearable tech. Besides, we can still service part of the core gamer segment with our portable games going forward!"

Jeferson Soler
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@ Mike Griffin - "The game industry is doing rather well right now, especially for Western devs." Considering some of the past articles from Gamasutra, I would have to say that's not the case at all. Truth be told, people can't and shouldn't ignore that the videogame industry is actually on a shaky ground right now. It would be a big mistake to do so. Considering the history of how the first Videogame Market Crash happened, I have to say that the stage is set for another crash. Hiding that truth won't make the possibility of another crash happening go away. Also, you mentioned about mobile game playing, but game developers shouldn't depend too much on the mobile phone games market. This is nothing against mobile phone games as I'll admit that there are positives when it comes to the mobile phone games, but one false move, that market could suffer in the same way as the LaserDisc games have. The LaserDisc games were once viewed as the would be saviors of the videogame industry (especially from the arcade side), but unfortunately, that wasn't the case and the Videogame Market Crash still happened. As for Nintendo, Nintendo is far from being on shaky ground. I'll admit things could be better with the Wii U sales, but that's more due to lousy marketing campaign for the Wii U (most notably, in the US as consoles are supposed to do best in the US). Nevertheless, the 3DS is still doing real well with sales and with game titles support. Plus, Nintendo saved some money during the Wii era, so the company will be in good shape for the time being. In the meantime, Nintendo (more specifically, Nintendo of America) needs to improve on the marketing campaign for the Wii U and its games.

Cordero W
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"I think that before Iwata decides to take Nintendo on a ride down a new path, he will be fired."

Wooooah, your newness is showing.

Christian Philippe Guay
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''Nintendo would strive to become a platform business that aims to improve people's quality of life in the next ten years''

If the goal is truly to improve people's quality of life, well... I don't feel the need to buy another platform when I already own a PC and game consoles just can't keep up anymore with the fast evolving PC technologies. Nntendo should focus on what they do best: softwares.

E Zachary Knight
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"Nntendo should focus on what they do best: softwares."

That is not what Nintendo does best, at least not exactly. What it does best is software *on its own custom hardware*. They are completely unproven when it comes to developing software for other platforms.

Jeferson Soler
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@ E Zachary Knight - Technically speaking, you are correct! Before the NES came about, Nintendo licensed their games to other companies (mainly, Atari and Coleco) and didn't do the games for the Atari systems, the Intellivision and the Colecovision. In some cases, these pre-NES console games didn't look as good as the arcade version of the Nintendo games, especially the Atari 2600 version of Donkey Kong by Coleco. After the NES came about, Nintendo started to produce its own games for its own console systems and portable systems. In case of the arcade scene on recent years, Nintendo tends to team up with other companies (most notably, Bandai Namco) for arcade game development.

Michael Joseph
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It'll be interesting to see what happens here. Certain aspects of Japanese culture seem pretty darn strange to those of us living in the Americas, Africa or Europe. The characterizations of Japanese consumerism disseminated in the west seem completely out of whack even to consumption addicted Americans! In Japan suicide rates are high. Young males seem more interested in games, pop culture, anime and porn than going out on dates with real live people.

What I'm getting at is, i wonder to what extent the question of QoL raised by Iwata is a product of the times and culture of present day Japan? Have QoL concerns and discussions been growing increasingly common in Japan before Nintendo ever brought it to the attention of video game enthusiasts in the west?

Having to design "QoL entertainment products" in a country like Japan, sounds like an ironic even paradoxical punishment handed out by the devils inhabiting one of the more pleasant circles of hell.

--
In Japan, a robot can deliver you a beer from your fridge in 7 minutes. The robots that got sent into the reactors to help try to save the atmosphere and environment and QoL for all Japanese were German.

Michael O'Hair
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Is the Quality of Life in Japan really different than that of the United States? Japan's QoL metrics may be different when compared to the US, but none are at the rock bottom (Greenland has the #1 spot in terms of national suicide rate as of 2011, Japan sits at #10 as of 2012).

I think this move is a play to diversify their properties. Perhaps Nintendo is getting the hint that they can't keep running off of slightly more technologically-advanced remakes featuring Mario, Link, Samus, etc.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Michael Joseph - While I agree with your comments, I still have to say that I don't see the "QoL entertainment products" as punishment handed out by the devils. While it may not always look that way, the Japanese people do value health a lot and tend to be health conscious. Health products tend to be very popular in Japan and that includes electronics. That's part of the reason why the Wii was very popular in Japan. Of course, QoL doesn't just pertain to health, but it is one of the important aspects of QoL. Also, about the young males that you speak of, those types tend to be otaku/geeks and are not representative of the entire young male audience. I learned a long time from my best friend about the problems with the otaku/geeks, especially when it comes to the Japanese culture.


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