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My thoughts on the Nintendo shareholder Q&A

We do news reporting on this stuff, but I also have thoughts as a player of games and a Nintendo-watcher... So here are some less-varnished thoughts on what Nintendo's management had to say to its shareholders.

As it always does, Nintendo published its Q&A with shareholders on its website (and as always, it's worth reading in full.) We wrote a couple of stories (1, 2) on it on Gamasutra as well.

Not everything in the Q&A is really germane to Gamasutra, though, or merits a whole story. We do news reporting on this stuff, but I also have thoughts as a player of games and a Nintendo-watcher... So here are some less-varnished thoughts on what Nintendo's management had to say to its shareholders. Some of it just reflects my personal interest in the company's games, of course, but I also try to tie it into my general understanding of its approach and direction, paired with some thoughts about what it ought to be doing moving forward.

Quotes from the Q&A are in italics.

In this way, we are gradually changing the structure of “The Legend of Zelda” series, and we are preparing to newly evolve the series for Wii U. In addition to that, we have ideas for Nintendo 3DS which we have not announced yet, so I hope you will look forward to them.

Just happy to see, here, that there appears to be another Zelda for 3DS in production. This whole announced plan to remake what Zelda is all about is overdue. Most people who care what I think about games (and care about Zelda) have already probably read my takedown of Skyward Sword but in short, I think the game is a total fucking mess.

However, the seeds for something great are in it, and A Link Between Worlds was fantastic (and showed growth/evolution.) So yeah, I'm a bit hyped for the future of Zelda. And I haven't been in years. I don't think I've actually been this excited about the future of Zelda since A Link to the Past was about to come out.

This game is under development by a team that mainly consists of our young employees. I am very happy that something new created by young people has won the admiration of fans.

This is in reference to Splatoon (which is fantastic-looking I think.) The game is under production by a new team, based on an original prototype, and really... Nintendo needs to do more of this. The company has gotten too conservative. (Read more about Splatoon here, btw.)

At GDC, Aya Kyogoku and Katsuya Eguchi pointed out that Animal Crossing: New Leaf was so fantastic because it incorporated a diversity of creative ideas from its entire staff, and also has some of its more contemporary features (like its online integration) because of listening to younger developers who are more familiar with smartphones, etc. Nintendo really needs to listen to people form the bottom-up if it wants to change and survive, I think.

I introduced a game called “Mario Maker” (temp.) in which you can create and play with your own Super Mario levels, as an example of taking advantage of the GamePad.

In a lot of ways, I think Mario Maker is the smartest/most contemporary product Nintendo's made in a long time. Kids today are nuts for Minecraft and giving them a Mario game that they can relate to directly in a creative way seems like a really smart way to get them on board / interested in the IP.

That said, it's still an uphill battle because you need to get them to want Wii U and parents to buy it. Also, Nintendo needs to implement rich sharing tools and TRULY deep creative tools, too.

Yeah, I know Little Big Planet did this, but if you want to get pissy, I had Pinball Construction Set as a kid. It's not about the originality of the approach, but the suitability to the times.

As Mr. Takahashi previously said, our subsidiary, MONOLITH SOFTWARE INC., is working on several projects

Just wanted to call this out, because it's yummy. We never got Soma Bringer in the US, which stinks, but I expect we'll get this stuff. Well, I hope we do. 

to some, it might have seemed as though there wasn’t a wide variety of software at E3, and as though many people followed the same direction to make their video games. I believe this is a revelation of creative immaturity on our part as creators in the video game industry.

That's Miyamoto speaking. The whole last answer is essential reading. It's always interesting when you get this kind of take from Miyamoto. He's not wrong. Actually, it strangely dovetails with my interview with the managing director of Ubisoft Massive, the developers of The Division, today -- he talks about triple-A developers inching forward creatively from the template of the shooter. So it seems that there's something of agreement there, isn't there?

Anyway, when Miyamoto says "creative immaturity" what he is really talking about is people not trying to push forward / push boundaries with their work. I know there are intense commercial pressures, but his riposte to that is that those who make bold creative leaps reap the rewards.

I really, really want to see Nintendo do this. It's been as guilty as anyone of being creatively conservative. Not always, of course -- say what you will about Tomodachi Life's social problems, but it's creatively bold. And of course WarioWare (10+ years ago, of course) is absolutely bursting with creativity and inventiveness. More, more, more, please, please, please.

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