In a new interview with consumer website GameSpot
, Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata has discussed the subject of massively multiplayer online worlds, as well as the company’s success with Virtual Console downloads and alternative uses for the DS.
Iwata stated that he felt there was an “imbalance between the time a person spends enjoying a game and the time it takes to create it”. Although his comments were relatively ambiguous he appeared to suggest Nintendo moving towards a development schedule featuring many new experimental titles, rather than a reliance on large scale sequels to existing franchises. He also stated again that the company would begin announcing new titles only when much closer to release, rather than the previous industry norm of months or even years in advance.
The use of the Nintendo DS as an interactive aid in public spaces was also mentioned, although again without any specific examples. In Japan though the console is already used by many institutions as an interactive guide and information source. Iwata himself stated that one of the first such “lifestyle proposals” is planned to be put into effect in “the first half of this year” in the West. This may be a reference to reported testing
of the Nintendo DS as an interactive tour guide at Disney World.
Discussing the forthcoming WiiWare service of original downloadable games, Iwata stated that the Virtual Console has experienced over 10 million paid downloads as of the end of December 2007. However, despite this success Iwata commented: “I don't think that packaged, retail games will be replaced by downloads over the next three- to five-year cycle. Packaged games have a number of advantages, from the guarantee of a certain amount of sales volume to the firmly established buying habits and infrastructure that I think should be preserved in the future.”
“But packaged games aren't a complete solution anymore. The cost of materials and distribution margins mean that there isn't much price flexibility, and there's always a risk with inventory. Plus the majority of a product's life span ends within a very short period after its release in the current market, such that titles can no longer compete for shelf space a month after their release,” he added.
Iwata also commented on the subject of large scale massively multiplayer online games, specifically the possibility of the company creating an online world in the style of Second Life
. “The first question I would ask is whether the service is fun if you're 5 or 95, if you're tech-savvy and if you're computer illiterate,” replied Iwata. “If that's not a hurdle we can get past, it's not something Nintendo is going to pursue.“
“In that respect, the virtual-world services out there now still aren't at a place where we'd like to join in-- and certainly not to the point that we'd want to jump into competition with everybody else,” he added. “We'd rather focus on doing things that nobody else would do.“