Nintendo's history is fascinating to analyze. The company hit it big when Donkey Kong was released in arcades in 1981, and then later the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System cemented the company as a dominant force for video games. Of course, Sony and Microsoft would arrive later as competitors. However, Nintendo retains one edge: its characters keep coming back and are the most recognizable in the industry. Still, even Nintendo has to consider what aspects to change in the growing digital age.
Can the company keep reusing the old characters without the games feeling like copies, and what about using younger developers' ideas in the creation of titles? In a recent Q&A financial briefing, Shigeru Miyamoto was asked about the younger developers that have joined Nintendo. Miyamoto touches upon this, saying that he continues to give more authority to younger developers. He also talks about Nintendo's approach to creating new content, and assures fans that Nintendo isn't afraid to experiment and develop something new.
Miyamoto: "The reason Iʼm delegating responsibilities to the younger generation is not because I feel that I cannot keep up with the sensibilities of young people. And I donʼt think Nintendo developers are hung up on the classics and unable to develop anything new. You do not have to worry because we are capable to respond to the variety of preferences in todayʼs world.
In baseball, if you want to hit a home run, you need to take a decisive swing to send the ball into the stands. Likewise, we take on the creation of bold new games without fear of failure. And because Nintendo has the strength for backing to do so, we can aim to hit home runs rather than trying squeeze bunt. To me, thatʼs the entertainment business."
It is interesting to see Miyamoto discuss Nintendo's stance on new content. Some have criticized Nintendo for overusing its IPs in identical ways. One could see some validity to that criticism in the past. For example, Yoshi's New Island was identical to the previous Yoshi's Island games, and New Super Mario Bros. 2 brought virtually nothing new to the table in comparison to the previous New Super Mario Bros. games. These days, however, with the Switch, Nintendo has been doing well in releasing original content.
The two highest rated games of 2017 on Metacritic are The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Although there have been countless games in both of these franchises, these two installments brought many new things to the table, showing that Nintendo is willing to experiment. Breath of the Wild abandoned the Zelda series' reliance on long dungeons in favor of a vast open world. Odyssey introduced the "Cappy" gimmick, brought in a realistic dragon, and even included lyrical music for the first time. While Nintendo hasn't delved into many new IPs, the company also hit it big with Splatoon.
Nintendo is in a very interesting point in its history. It elected a new president last year, one of the youngest. The company is jumping into both the mobile and online business. According to the briefing, Nintendo has some surprises in store this year, so it will be interesting to see how the company will continue to blend its philosophy with new ideas.