Miyamoto: "Entertainment is an Unpredictable Industry"
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Not at a point of concern for Wii U as yet
Shigeru Miyamoto, as you've no doubt noticed, has been on a press tour around the U.S., and the most recent port of call seems to have been the New York Times. A number of topics were covered, and in terms of the ever-present question of Wii U momentum the Nintendo executive admitted that he'd naturally like to see sales improve in the short term, but that his confidence in the concept means that "in the long term I’m not at a point where I’m concerned yet".
That's a fairly standard line at the moment, and not surprising considering the range of software that's planned for the remainder of the year and beyond. Perhaps more revealing were some thoughts from Miyamoto on the entertainment industry as a whole, and how Nintendo addresses the continually shifting market.
Entertainment is an unpredictable industry. Entertainment is this thing that moves around from place to place. You have a theme park like Disneyland, and that’s a form of entertainment. And at the same time you have small, downloadable software for your smartphone that you can play, and that’s entertainment. Nintendo’s stance, over all, is that we don’t know where entertainment will take us next.
We look at it in terms of what kinds of experiences do families want in the living room in front of the TV? Because we don’t think that families are going to go away, and we don’t think that TVs are going to go away.
The last couple of years in Japan we’ve seen a huge increase in the adoption of smartphones, to the point where in Japan people are saying, “Maybe I don’t need a console, or I don’t need a portable gaming device.” But this past holiday in Japan we released a game called Animal Crossing: New Leaf that’s coming to the United States this year. And in Japan it has really been a big hit. And what we’re seeing is that the people playing it primarily are adult women. And adult women also happens to be the same group of people that has been rapidly adopting cellphones over the last couple of years.
As long as we’re able to provide an entertainment experience that people want to play, they’re more than happy to purchase another device to carry around with them alongside their smartphone.
...There are sort of two kinds of people. There are the people who say, “Oh, we can repeat that success.” And there are the people who say, “We’re never going to see anything as successful as that again.” What I always say is: “We can make the rules ourselves. Nobody has done it before. We can make it up as we go along.” And that to me is a lot more fun.
Meanwhile, Miyamoto was asked about the installation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that shows 14 different games — though none are from Nintendo. It's not the first video game installation in a museum or art gallery, but did nevertheless provide an opportunity for Miyamoto to share a persective on the "video games as art" debate.
I think the saddest thing about video games is that once the hardware that the game runs on stops operating, the game is gone. And the only way to preserve it then is through video. And so, on the one hand, I’m happy that there’s a facility that’s starting to preserve games in their original state.
At the same time it seems a little strange to me. I still look at video games as entertainment. And it seems strange to me to take entertainment and preserve it as a piece of art per se. But I guess MoMA as a museum, they were one of the first to start preserving industrial design products. With myself being an industrial designer, I’m very grateful to see that, and grateful that they’re also preserving games.
So, what do you think of Miyamoto's comments on the ever-evolving entertainment industry, and his personal distinction of video games as entertainment, as opposed to art? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.