News Article

It's Tough at the Top for Nintendo

Posted by Damien McFerran

Japanese newspaper reveals the strain of being number one

Nintendo's consoles are massive sellers and the company is arguably more successful now than it has ever been, but at what cost?

Japanese newspaper Nikkei Sangyou Shimbun has given a brief insight into the strain of being the best of the best. Apparently Nintendo's employees have been under increased pressure lately due to the firm's incredible success.

Members of Nintendo's online division have allegedly voiced their concern at having to support so many best-selling titles and the company's finance department is reported to have been working longer hours - presumably to count all that lovely, lovely money.

Elsewhere, Nintendo's game designers are feeling the pinch as well, with one staffer complaining that they don't have time to plan for brand new games and instead have to produce endless sequels.

This might explain why Nintendo has been so keen on using outside sources recently; Metroid: Other M is being handled by Tecmo internal studio Team Ninja and the Mario Party franchise is traditionally overseen by Hudson.

So while Nintendo's rise to power has brought with it cash, gamers and much more besides, the cost in terms of worker satisfaction seems to be quite significant.


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User Comments (25)



Oregano said:

The stuff about the finance department is funny.

I can see why they need to work on endless sequels as well, they only have a few brands that are big enough to satisfy a good chunk of the fanbase and it's easier to make a sequel than come up with a new concept from scratch, combine that with the whining about the Wii having no games and Nintendo is in a rush now to get everything out.

I really don't think we'd be getting Super Mario Galaxy 2 if Nintendo were in different circumstances.



V8_Ninja said:

That does explain a lot. Hopefully we'll be able to see more unique games on the next console.



Golgo said:

Why don't they put some of that mega-profit into expanding their staff base? There's loads of talent flying around. Nintendo were mad not to snaffle up the entire 'Seeds/Platinum Games' team when they were pushed out of Capcom, for example.



JakobG said:

Increased pressure?
Aren't japanese employees already working like crazy?



citizenerased said:

WTH, so what is Nintendo spending money on then...?


Miyamoto's probably built himself a giant Money Bin.



Machu said:

I'm fed up of hearing workers complain (be it BA, Nintendo, whoever), there is an easy solution... the door.



Donatello said:

So that explains why Nintendo hasn't created a new Franchise on the Wii lately....Hell, the only new franchise they did for the GCN was Pikmin



Kirk said:



Let's all just quite our jobs...

The easy solution...

If only someone had told me it was as easy as quitting my job and everything would be perfect from that day forward...



vherub said:

get suda51 to lead up a division and make a new 1st party ip
also, this article is rather vague on specifics, difficult to say what it's all about



LztheQuack said:

Money's not really an issue, it's the expectations that people have when you're at the top.



bestbuck said:

On the Plus side they have Jobs but on the down side they are Overworked and not happy. Business Sucks



Moco_Loco said:

It's weird how we all crave money when it seems like all it ever leads to is unhappiness. I mean, I sometimes wish I had more money than I have, but even I realize that if I had more money I'd blow it on games and probably become jaded from playing so many different games. Not to mention the family troubles it would cause...



RowdyRodimus said:

@Machu Don't worry, I got what you were saying. Here's what he means in employee speak (something I mastered as a manager of two resteraunts)
"If you don't like the job, quit, clock out and go home. There's a stack of applications in the office of people that would love to have your job or any job for that matter."

@That As a stockholder in quite a few companies I have no problem with them investing in staff IF it is needed and helps to create more profits. Take WWE for instance, I was happy when they let some of the talent go because they weren't making money for the company and hurting my dividends, they then used that money and increased the DVD staff to the point that it was higher than the talent they released cost. That also didn't bother me because the DVD division is the most profitable division they have (save for March and April during WrestleMania hype). So by spending more money on staff, the quantity of DVD's released went up (as did the quality) so the profits went up.
That doesn't even take into account the amount of jobs that were created by the companies that produce the raw materials, shipping companiee and distribution channels, nor the taxes that were taken in by the government because of those extra jobs.

(Sorry, got carried away there )



JebbyDeringer said:

Scrooge McDuck!!!! yeah! Money Bin. Seriously they need to hire more staff. Nintendo is always good at polishing games up but lately their creativity has been a bit low. They should have bought Free Radical who consisted of some EX Rare developers but instead they were bought by Crytek. Nintendo definitely needs some new up and coming Euro devs.



aaronsullivan said:

It's a serious problem for the future. The rest of the industry has been dealing with the rising cost of making games at a much more painful level than Nintendo has due to skipping a generation in hardware.

I hope -- and expect -- that Nintendo is planning to deal with this by expanding and/or building some solid partnerships. Give the creative core some room to breathe and create something fresh.

Either that or just pump out NSMBW-style editions for every franchise in 2011-2012 -- Kid Icarus, Metroid, Zelda, Donkey Kong, etc. I'd probably be just as happy for the short term.



I doubt is as worse than working at EA or Activision.



Wolfcoyote said:

I can definitely understand what the article means. It's so hard to climb to the top, but so easy to fall to the bottom. Exhibit A: Nintendo's 1985-1986 attempts to enter the market. In NA, no one cared about the Nintendo brand name with the exception of the Donkey Kong arcade game and a few of the better Game & Watch games, but it took Minoru Arakawa (then head of Nintendo of America based in New York) two years of practically pleading with toys stores to carry NES consoles risk-free and partnering with ex-Atari marketers to enter the marketplace.
Twice, he even called Hiroshi Yamauchi (his father-in-law, head of Nintendo Co., Ltd) and suggested giving up.

Five years later, a simple case of corporate arrogance (too slow to bring the SNES/Super Famicom to NA to compete with Genesis, anti-competitive business practices, not taking Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis seriously) to throw them "off of the throne" for three years. By the time that the SNES established itself, in came Sony's Playstation.

It took Nintendo over ten years since then to demonstrate to the public why they should continue to exist as non-portable console manufacturers. You best believe that they'll work all of their departments to keep their current market position.



JimLad said:

I also don't get why they are having this problem in the face of the massive profits they see year after year. Where is the money going? if not to expand the work force. I know they are probably very picky about who they hire, but there must be plenty of skilled development houses out there who would love to work directly for Nintendo.

The pressure is obviously again down to the lack of third party support.



LittleIrves said:

@Wolfcoyote: I'm just reading Game Over, too. A fascinating book. Anyone on this site, if they haven't already, should read it for a glimpse at Nintendo's history. Amazing how many ideas/concepts overlap from their origins with how things are now with the Wii/DS

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