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 Zelda  boss: Players want more, and it's getting harder to deliver

Zelda boss: Players want more, and it's getting harder to deliver

July 3, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

July 3, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
More: Console/PC, Production, Business/Marketing

In an interview with Wired, Zelda chief Eiji Aonuma acknowledges there is a tough balancing act at play between delivering quickly and satisfying fans.

"We don't release [Zelda titles] that often," Aonuma tells Wired. "Mario games, if you push to get it done, you can finish it in a year. Zelda games take at least three years to complete. At the same time, I'm getting pushed to release them quicker but the users are expecting bigger experiences. And those things don't match up. So I struggle with that all the time. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do to meet both of those demands."

Zelda enjoys a devoted fanbase, but tends to perform worse at retail versus its sister franchises. Aonuma also notes that Nintendo's Mario flagship has two producers, Takashi Tezuka and Yoshiaki Koizumi.

"With Zelda, it's just me."

Aonuma's team is currently hard at work with two distinct Zelda titles, Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds, with a third early in development. Aonuma says that Wind Waker's Wii U conversion is a "test pattern" for developing an all-new Zelda for the platform.

"The gaming community is -- I don't want to sound rude, or anything -- very fickle," Aonuma continues, describing the often conflicting demands regarding the look and control of the franchise. "I totally understand where they're coming from. As a developer, I need to listen to these things and I need to, maybe, make it possible to do either one, do whatever your preference is. I certainly have my preference, but I shouldn't limit everyone to my preferences. I need to provide an experience that is flexible, allows for maybe both of those options."

"Everyone's needs are different, so it's really important to provide the possibility for them to do whatever it is they need to do."

During E3, Aonuma expressed a similar sentiment, saying that he "want[ed] to give the player more freedom... I want them to be able to explore more."

In the same interview, however, Aonuma spoke very candidly about Nintendo needing to step up and take risks:

"If we don't change we might die. We need to evolve... I think the need is there for us to make decisions more quickly [and] see what the payoff is."

Aonuma -- like many high-profile developers -- is pulled in a number of different directions, facing obligations to a deeply committed fanbase as well as looking to stay relevant in a changing industry.

"We can't change too much, because in changing one thing you can break something else, which is not something we want to do," Aonuma tells Wired. "But it's a shared team working on both of [these] projects, Wind Waker HD and the new Zelda for Wii U. Every day, they're learning something new."

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