Iwata Delivers GDC Keynote Speech
Posted by Anthony Dickens
Iwata addressed his audience with his "Disrupting Development" speech at the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco.
After an initial delay to the speech, Iwata arrived on stage to a very warm welcome, everyone in the audience hoping for some juicy Revolution details. The AV operator accidentally showed all the slides to the audience before the presentation began, early reports indicated that there would be a heavy amount of DS related content.
Iwata kicked off his speech with a story about two companies in the 1990's and how by regrouping and reinventing their strategy could once them once more become successful. Apparently this was a reference to the Coke vs Pepsi rivalry. Iwata went on to explain that Nintendo's regroup revolved around the Nintendo DS and handheld market. He then went on to explain the success story of the DS, with facts such as Nintendogs selling over 6 million copies in its first year, stating "New kinds of software creating brand new players".
Brain Training was the next topic of conversation. Iwata went on to explain the process of the development behind the Brain Training title and saying they settled on this idea because of the popularity of the brain exercise topic in Japan. Bill Trinen (NOA) then came on stage to demonstrate the American version, Brain Age, to the audience -- he also invited some people up on stage to have a go with the title running on a sparkly new DS Lite. Iwata then announced that he would be giving a free copy of Brain Age to everyone in the audience.
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection was next on the agenda, Iwata explained how Nintendo had always thought about networked play, but didn't feel the time was right until the DS. Then codenamed "Project House Party" was aimed at gamers who would not normally consider online play, explaining that they didn't want to aim for the usual hardcore online gamers like in the PC market. They wanted to create a more casual and friendly environment. He also pointed out the speed of which Nintendo Wi-Fi connection grew, It took Xbox Live 20 months to hit the one million mark, while the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection took only three months.
Metroid Prime Hunters was also demonstrated in 4 player mode, after which the first major announcement was made. We'll be seeing a new Zelda game on the DS dubbed "The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass". It is set to feature 2D perspective but with 3D graphics, and of course loads of touch-screen controls. The new Zelda game will be shown at E3 in May and should launch later this year.
Revolution. Iwata asks his audience, "Why are people comfortable picking up a TV remote, but not a game controller?", he went on to say "Revolution needed to be wireless, approachable, sophisticated, and revolutionary". He began to explain the thought process of their development team, noting that Miyamoto had the idea of the one-handed controller and the Metroid team requested the nunchucks idea. Iwata finished by saying "Some people put their money on the screen; we decided to put ours on the game interface".
"New is good, but there is also an appetite for old", Iwata announced that over 1000 Sega Mega Drive games will be available through Revolution's Virtual Console feature. He added that TurboGrafx games, a system jointly developed by NEC and Hudson, would also be available for download.
Our speaker followed this with a section around the cost involved in developing a modern game, requiring a large team, licenses and marketing costs. He wants to reduce this cost, and says games don't have to be that complicated and its "understandable that publishers may rely on sequels". However, Iwata vows that future versions of Zeldas, Marios and Metroids will be "bigger masterpieces than ever before". Iwata begins to bring his speech to a close.
"When I imagine what faces us right now, I think of explorers setting foot on a new continent. For them, it was impossible to imagine what adventure lay ahead." Nintendo disrupted handheld, and it worked; Nintendo disrupted Wi-Fi, and it worked. Nintendo is disrupting the definition of a game, and it's working too. In a few weeks, you'll see how Nintendo plans to disrupt console gaming."
Iwata has left the building.
Not as many juicy details as we would of liked, but as expected we'll have to wait until E3 to find out the real details. Props go out to EuroGamer and may other sites that provided a text commentary directly from GDC.