Friday, 29 August 2014

Miyamoto on Nintendo's Creative Future, Winning Back Core Gamers

The internet is buzzing right now about Nintendo veteran Shigeru Miyamoto's interview in October 2014's edition of Edge magazine in which the iconic game designer and producer states that he is about making games for gamers, rather than cave into investor pressure to court to casual gamers and create free-to-play versions of Nintendo's storied franchises for smartphones. In response to Edge's comment that Miyamoto's upcoming games for Wii U that make extensive use of the Wii U gamepad: Star Fox, Project Guard, and Project Giant Robot, are difficult to play, Miyamoto emphasizes that while using the Wii U gamepad alongside your main view on the television screen does take some getting used to, it represents a new challenge that hardcore gamers will find satisfying once mastered. This is a complete paradigm shift from Nintendo's previous attempt to snag non-gamers with easy to play games like Wii Sports, and Miyamoto's controversial statement regarding the attitude of casual gamers is particularly striking in suggesting that they are completely unengaged with the games they play: "Their attitude is 'OK, I am the customer. You are supposed to entertain me.' It's a kind of 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." Bold words, but ones that suggest that Nintendo is taking a renewed interest in attending to the hardcore gaming community that many feel have been alienated since the inception of Nintendo Wii.

Which is not to say that Nintendo will be making proprietary Call Of Duty-like games to win back the hardcore gamer element. Miyamoto was unimpressed with the general showing at E3 2014, commenting that there was far too much "bloody shooter software" that demonstrated that the industry is trapped in a state of "creative immaturity" as developers continue to build upon previous successes rather than attempt something brand new. He states in the Edge interview that he hopes "Nintendo will always be a company that aggressively invests in something new - something born from each creator's individual characteristics." His solution to this desire for expression is Nintendo's Garage program, in which Nintendo developers break off into small teams to work on ideas, the most successful of which are then taken on as full-fledged projects. The three aforementioned Wii U projects, along with E3 2014's heavily featured Splatoon, the company's non-violent take on the competitive shooter, are the first games to be realized through this initiative. Miyamoto suggests it's all about staying true to Nintendo's roots: "With the increasing number of developers involved in one project, we need to spend longer simply communicating, so we can feel the same pleasure [as the old days]."

Concepts like Splatoon, a game reminiscent of Super Mario Sunshine in which the object is not to kill your opponents but use paint guns to coat more territory on the map than the other team, represent this revitalized spirit of ingenuity over at Nintendo. In taking the tried and tested FPS genre and turning it on its head, Nintendo is demonstrating that they recognize this important corner of gamer society, while being able to add their own unique spin on it. Splatoon was almost made as a Mario game, but Miyamoto states that "If it were Mario, we wouldn't be able to create any new [Intellectual Property]," which is refreshing to hear from a company that has played it particularly safe in its proprietary software decisions in the past decade. It's no secret that Nintendo has not been doing very well financially, but gambles such as this, along with tried and tested upcoming games like Super Smash Bros. and the as-yet unnamed open-world Zelda title for Wii U, might just help Nintendo reengage with its estranged core gamer audience and regain lost ground as a popular innovator in the games market.

You can read the full interview with Shigeru Miyamoto in Edge Magazine.

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