Last week Nintendo hosted its 76th annual shareholders meeting, and in the process the company ratified a bunch of changes to its charter and hosted investors in a Q&A with Nintendo execs that offers perspective on where the company is headed.
Now the full transcript of that Q&A session has been published in English, and it's worth reading in full for developers who want to better understand how one of the game industry's chief players plans to chart a path through the immediate future.
As you can see from some of the excerpts we've rounded up below, for Nintendo the future encompasses a new platform launch, an expanding smartphone development program and a careful evaluation of virtual- and augmented-reality tech.
Nintendo now aims to release games that, on average, sell at least 2M units worldwide
Game developers may sympathize with the concerns of one investor, who asked Nintendo execs about how they plan to deal with the rising costs (in terms of both time and money) of game development.
"While it's important that we do not overextend by putting an excessive amount of content in our games, the only solution is how to make software that sells well," Nintendo director and longtime game designer Shigeru Miyamoto answered. "There will be big hits somewhere in our business, and they support the games that fail and allow us to take on other challenges. So our basic premise is to create software that will sell in the range of at least two million units. We simply couldn't recoup our costs if we only released games in Japan that had sales of around 300,000 units, so the global market is our standard."
Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima added that the company is looking at NX game development techniques that will address these concerns, citing examples like creating game engines that can be re-used across multiple projects.
Mobile is proving a good way to reach a new audience
Nintendo director Shinya Takahashi serves as general manager of the company's Entertainment Planning & Development Division, and he fielded a few notable questions from investors about the company's plans on mobile.
While he noted that Nintendo may investigate developing a physical controller for mobile games, he told one investor that the company does not necessarily feel a need for such controllers since it has not given up on creating mobile games well-suited to the limitations of the platform.
"I believe Nintendo's way of thinking is to look at whether action games are really not impossible (without a physical controller for smart device applications) to create and how we can make it happen to create such a game," Takahashi said. "I think we will make applications, and not just action games, in consideration of what best embodies 'Nintendo-like' applications, including applications for everyone from children to seniors."
That's borne out by the initial success of Nintendo's debut mobile release, the free-to-play social app Miitomo. Back in May Nintendo chief Kimishima noted it had surpassed 10 million unique downloads, and now Takahashi says it's been a successful vector for the company to reach a new audience of people who do not own Nintendo consoles.
"What stands out most for us in terms of the response we have gotten from releasing an application on non-Nintendo platforms is the opportunity for people around the world who do not have access to Nintendo platforms to experience Nintendo's Mii characters with Miitomo," he said. "The different responses of various age groups in each country have also been very interesting to learn about. Releasing applications for non-Nintendo platforms is one challenge for us, and we will try all kinds of things as we continue this challenge."
VR is seen to be of interest to competitors and customers, so Nintendo is also interested
Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime has previously spoken about how the company is shying away from virtual reality until the tech is more mainstream, and now Kimishima and Miyamoto have shed a bit more light on the subject after further prodding from investors.
"We are well aware that other companies are developing games and game-related products using VR technologies, and that consumers are interested in all of this," Kimishima told one shareholder. I cannot say anything specific at this time, but understand that we also consider VR to be a promising technology, and we are conducting research with much interest."
That research has a number of interests, according to Miyamoto, including how to make VR games that are either enjoyable in short play sessions or comfortable to play in VR for long periods of time. True to form, the company is also concerned about making VR games and tech that's safe and comfortable for young players.
"As for VR, we are researching not just VR but AR and many other technologies. We have a range of core technology including 3D, and we are also considering the possibility of implementing these in our own hardware development," said Miyamoto. "We are also looking into how to make sure that a parent doesn't need to worry when their child puts on a VR device in their living room."
Even Nintendo is concerned about the Brexit
Many game developers are concerned about how the United Kingdom's recent decision to "Brexit" (reached by popular vote but not yet implemented) by extracting itself from the European Union will affect their business, and Nintendo seems to be no exception.
When asked by an investor how the global company will be affected by a potential Brexit, Kimishima predicted that the company's assets will take a hit due to fluctuations in currency exchange rates, and that may in turn affect its earnings.
"Another conceivable impact of the Brexit vote is that Nintendo has a base in the UK and sell goods from there. Tax systems, product safety standards and rules, information privacy, and all sorts of other agreements are established by the EU for all of Europe, and at this point in time nobody knows how those agreements would change if the UK were to leave," added Kimishima. "For now, what we need to do is closely watch developments and prepare appropriate measures."
For more comments from Kimishima, Miyamoto and other Nintendo execs, check out the full Q&A transcription.