Sponsored By

Iwata's comments in restored 2004 interview look downright prophetic

Two years into being Nintendo's global president, Iwata looks ahead to the company's strategy with the Nintendo Wii and DS, and its console competition.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

May 20, 2024

3 Min Read
Former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.
Image via Flickr.

A new interview featuring the late Satoru Iwata has been uncovered, and is freely available for all to watch. His comments in the video feel important in the years since his passing and downright prescient amid current industry turmoil.

Dating back to E3 2004, the interview from Kikizo has been fully remastered with Japanese and English subtitles. At the time, Iwata had only been global president of Nintendo for two years.

In the interview, Iwata was asked about the then-upcoming Nintendo DS. To him, the handheld needed to feel like something audiences had never experienced before.

"The DS can tell you how serious we are about changing the way games are played," said Iwata. "If we said we beefed up the technology of the Game Boy Advance, and the processing power and graphic capabilities, that's something people are expecting. There's no surprise at all."

On a similar note, Iwata expressed a belief that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 wouldn't have much of a future. Cheekily, he noted that if the two consoles did have a bright future ahead, the Nintendo Wii (née Revolution) would go down a similar path.

Sony and Microsoft's more recent consoles have largely been sold in terms of graphical and technical power. To Iwata, that focus just results in more work than needed, and is ultimately worthless since audiences may not see a clear difference.

Iwata reflects on the DS and what game consoles need to provide

Though he passed away in 2015, Iwata's words feel especially resonant now. Last week, Sony revealed half of PlayStation Network's install base are still using their PlayStation 4s, and have yet to upgrade to PlayStation 5.

There's a lot of reasons for that, like the pandemic eating into the momentum of the current generation. The PS5's still being aroundn $500, and much of the current games being cross-gen titles, also factor into this as well.

"Without a completely new UI or way to play," he said, "I don't think the majority of customers will want to buy a new hardware just to play games."

Iwata viewed the DS as an expansion of the Game Boy family of handhelds, and the GBA had a then-install base of 60 million units. Nintendo's handhelds were (and still are) iconic, which made Sony's PlayStation Portable look like an underdog.

Throughout the interview, he's very intentional with calling the DS its own thing that'll spawn its own devoted base, similar to the Game Boy. He ended up being right, as the DS spawned a redesign and the equally big 3DS as a successor.

Speaking to the PSP, Iwata noted Sony had a "tough" challenge of going up against both the DS and GBA base. As far as he was concerned, the DS was in a league all its own, since it didn't exist at that point as a Game Boy replacement.

Not all of Nintendo's hardware bets paid off. The Nintendo WiiU had a rough finanacial go of it, and it fell to the 3DS to pick up the slack. But the Nintendo Switch in 2017 turned things around extremely well, and recently topped 140 million lifetime sales.

And as the console is looking like Nintendo's best-selling system ever, anticpation for its successor builds each day.

Read more about:

Top Stories

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like