After years of trying to make games for everybody, it sounds like Nintendo wants to return to making games for its hardcore base.
Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto is expressing frustration with people who enjoy entertainment — including games — on a “passive” level, according to an interview with Edge Magazine in the U.K. (as posted by website CVG). The legendary designer, who oversaw the creation of megapopular casual games like Wii Sports, points to smartphones and tablets for spoiling a large portion of gamers. He says those devices have people taking games for granted, which may have them ignoring more complex experiences on a Nintendo console.
“[These gamers are] the people who, for example, might want to watch a movie. They might want to go to Disneyland,” Miyamoto told Edge. “Their attitude is, ‘OK, I am the customer. You are supposed to entertain me.’ It’s kind of a 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 [with more advanced games].”
While Nintendo’s creative boss specifically references movies and theme parks, it’s possible he is comparing mobile hits like Candy Crush Saga, Puzzle & Dragons, and Clash of Clans to those types of experiences. Those games have interactive elements, but they also reward players by enabling them to skip portions of the game.
Of course, Miyamoto’s feelings on the “passive” audience today represents a reversal from the companies previous generation of hardware where the company tried to convert those people into active participants.
“In the days of DS and Wii, Nintendo tried its best to expand the gaming population,” said Miyamoto. “Because of the spread of smart devices, people take games for granted now. [That’s] a good thing for us because we do not have to worry about making games something that are relevant to general people’s daily lives.”
We’ve asked Nintendo to further clarify these statements, and we’ll update this post with any new information.
Even if Miyamoto’s feelings toward the wider audience of customers hadn’t shifted, he wouldn’t have much of a choice about making games for them. Droves of consumers have moved on to iOS and Android from Wii or DS. Even kids are spending their time with Minecraft on PC, smartphones, and consoles in lieu of everything else. That migration has left the Wii U in a position where only Nintendo’s biggest fans own the console.
Approaching two years on the market, Wii U’s sales have barely surpassed 6 million. That’s compared to Sony’s 10 million PS4s in just nine months.
Miyamoto’s comments don’t mean that Nintendo is only just now waking up to the realities of its situation. The company has changed its strategy in a number of ways to appeal more to the most hardcore gamers. This includes reaching out directly to fans during the Electronic Entertainment Expo tradeshow in June with a livestreaming broadcast on the Web. It also includes heavily promoting the upcoming four-player fighter Super Smash Bros. for Wii U among the pro-gaming crowd.
At E3, Nintendo held an Super Smash Bros. tournament, which is the first time a major publisher held an e-sports event at the industry’s biggest gathering.
This was all evidence that Nintendo knows it needs to make its core audience happy, and now Miyamoto is saying it loud and proud.
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