Following a drastic reduction of Nintendo sales forecast earlier this year, Mr. Satoru Iwata (CEO of Nintendo) has been the subject of many complaints and demands that he resign, abandon the Wii U or shift Nintendo games to smart devices. Instead of doing any of that, he’s honourably continued on with business and set about trying to deal with the task at hand – even going so far as to cut his own wages by half, and Shigeru Miyamoto’s by 30%.
In today’s ‘investor briefing‘, a press release outlining future business strategies, he spoke about many aspects of the industry, and much of it has come out of the translation from Japanese frustratingly vague. However, we can understand most of it and it even contained a few nuggets of info that will directly affect gamers.
Beginning with the stuff that we probably haven’t misinterpreted, we can confirm that DS games are being prepared to be ported to Wii U to further expand the Virtual Console library, which is currently limited to nothing more recent than SNES games. Meanwhile, Mario Kart 8 will be releasing globally in May 2014, and is likely to sell a few consoles – just look at Mario Kart Wii, which sold over 1 million copies in the last 9 months of 2013.
Iwata-san admits to dropping the ball on multiple occasions
Miyamoto-san is also concerning himself with designing experiences that will emphasise the Wii U GamePad’s features, such as Near-Field Communication, while a feature to immediately start playing the current disc upon booting up the system is also in the works.
If you report that we will release Mario on smart devices, it would be a completely misleading statement. It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings.
– Satoru Iwata (translation)
After this, the presentation starts to trail off into the conceptual. Iwata-san discusses expanding the concept of what a video game is, and improving the customer’s relationship with the company beyond content within products. Smart devices are the next talking point, as a team of dedicated developers have been assigned to get friendly with smartphone gamers. Iwata also mentions a more liberal use of characters, planning to “be flexible in areas we did not license until now”. This has already been demonstrated by Tecmo Koei’s upcoming Hyrule Warriors hack-and-slash.
This is where the really confusing stuff begins. The investor briefing begins to discuss expanding services into those focused less around video games and more around “Improving People’s QOL (Quality of Life) in Enjoyable Ways”. The ‘leapfrog’ diagram featured above is a prefect example of how conceptual the ideas covered here are – apparently the first step in providing ways to improve “QOL” is to provide services that help prevent illness.
Health is the first step in improving “QOL”
The most confusing part of the investor briefing is the way it descries the future of “non-wearable” platforms. What is meant by “non-wearable”? Even Iwata himself admits that it’s not clear, and that the subject is unlikely to be fully clarified by the end of 2014.
It seems that by forcibly expanding into other markets, or even carving out their own niche, Nintendo plan to expand their user base. These ideas concerning non-wearability and “QOL” are certainly confusing and ambiguous, but we’ll see with time what kind of trick Iwata’s got up his sleeve.