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Satoru Iwata: First Party Wii U Game Delays Are to Ensure That They're "Valuable Titles"

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

It's becoming harder for games "to move or amaze consumers"

During his recent investor Q & A, Satoru Iwata faced some questions about the delays and lacking Wii U games line-up, with no first-party relief due until the Summer months. The questioning appears to have been polite, but nevertheless touched on a current weak point for Nintendo as the Wii U endures poor momentum.

After explaining that his role overseeing operations in regions such as North America would enable better, quicker communication, Satoru Iwata addressed the downturn in game sales in the West. The following lengthy explanation explains why Nintendo has taken time to ensure the quality of upcoming Wii U games, and why Iwata believes that the current market is particularly challenging.

As there has been a downturn in the video game industry for the past two years, some, specifically in the U.S., say that video games themselves have entered a difficult phase. This is probably due to two elements.

One is that consumers have a higher psychological hurdle to paying a certain sum of money for software. Many people attribute this to smart devices, but I don’t think it is the only reason. We try to offer various kinds of software for a video game platform, and the games are improving steadily each year, but these improvements are becoming less noticeable. In short, what one platform can offer will eventually become saturated. Every consumer will inevitably become tired of and get less excitement from the same type of entertainment. It has become more difficult for a game which developers in this industry, including us, created with the same or greater amount of energy, to move or amaze consumers. Lowering software prices and a rise in the number of devices you can play games on without a dedicated gaming machine are gradually setting the bar higher for us to encourage our consumers to pay a certain sum of money for software.

The other element is the lowered sales level of the entire video game market as the current non-Nintendo home consoles are nearing the end of their product cycles. These factors combined have caused the current situation. I believe the future of the video game industry depends on the number of games developers release that consumers consider to be fresh and worth paying for.

We originally planned to release a few first-party titles for Wii U during the first half of this year, but no big titles are scheduled for release before "Pikmin 3" in July because we decided to take time to add the final touches to ensure that consumers fully feel that they are valuable titles. The brand of a franchise would be completely degraded without customer satisfaction. This is why we delayed the release schedule of such games.

We have recently reaffirmed the fact that a delicately crafted game will never fail to appeal to consumers. A good example is "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" we released at the end of last year. "Tomodachi Collection" has also made a good start in its first week, probably because many people have felt that it contains new types of fun and excitement even if the basic structure of the game is similar to its prequel for Nintendo DS. In this way, what is happening cannot be accounted for by the idea that casual users playing games with smartphones will not buy games targeted at them for dedicated gaming systems. The reason why "Fire Emblem Awakening" and "Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon" have been well received by consumers in the U.S. and European markets is that they still respect the value of games that have been carefully developed to take advantage of dedicated gaming machines. It is true that the overseas video game market has been in a downturn for the last two years, but we believe that there is a way to buck the trend.

A lot to digest there, but it does seem — when reading some gamer reactions to blockbuster titles — that it can be harder to excite consumers with so many options at their fingertips. Time will tell whether the upcoming Wii U releases will show the benefits of the extended development time, but it's clear that Nintendo's conscious of trying to offer good value for full-priced retail games.

What do you think of Iwata's comments and reasonings, as well as his assessment of the demands of satisfying modern gamers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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User Comments (52)



HeatBombastic said:

Well, it makes sense. Grabbing the attention of casuals, invested, or children is hard to do nowadays.



trondood said:

Meanwhile, my WiiU is collecting dust because I destroyed ZombiU and no one wants to play Nintendoland with me



Rafie said:

It's good that you delay the great games that we love and adore to make them greater titles! Glad to see Mr. Iwata isn't trying to appease the masses by releasing a half-baked game.



marck13 said:

Well spoken Iwata-san!
"Every consumer will inevitably become tired of and get less excitement from the same type of entertainment. It has become more difficult for a game which developers in this industry, including us, created with the same or greater amount of energy, to move or amaze consumers." --> This let me understand why Wii Fit U isn´t on the market already. They´re still building on it so the fans will feel how "new" it is and not the same they know from the Wii again.



TwilightV said:

What consumers are they trying to satisfy? The brick walls who are never satisfied with anything? >_>



DrKarl said:

"no big titles are scheduled for release before "Pikmin 3" in July because we decided to take time to add the final touches to ensure that consumers fully feel that they are valuable titles."

This is the right attitude for a game developer to have, and I greatly appreciate it.



JeanOfmArc said:

It's nice to hear more reflective words from Mr. Iwata; I'm used to him wearing big white gloves and saying "We bring you Nintendo" raises hands "directly!"

Seriously, he seems to have a good grasp on reality, which is good for someone leading a company. Of course, Nintendo has always taken the slow-but-eventually-excellent first-party approach, so I'm not surprised Wii U is off to a slow start.



rjejr said:

Translation: "it's hard for us to impress consumers w/ HD graphics b/c the PS3 and Xbox360 have had them for 5 years already; and things haven't really changed that much graphically since the the conversion from 2D to 3D worlds with the release of the N64, followed by Dreamcast, PS2 and Gamecube a decade ago." BTW, that's half snark, half reality.

As for the delays - Nobody wants a game to come out before it's ready BUT BUT BUT a game wouldn't be LATE if people making the game were smart enough to know how long it would take to finish it, or smart enough to keep their mouths shut until they had a realistic release date. I don't care if a game takes 1 year or 5 to make, just don't tell me it's coming out if it isn't, delay problem solved. Don't let Iwata make a promise that Miyamoto won't or can't keep. Judging form current system game development Nintendo has lost it's ability to judge time. Look at Kid Icarus and other 3DS games before they even tried to make HD games for the WiiU. So yes Nintendo, work on games until they are good, just don't tell us they are coming out until they actually are ready to release.

He also said = "no big titles are scheduled for release before "Pikmin 3" in July". Pikmin 3 is only out in July in Japan, it's August 4 in the US and the EU doesn't even have a date yet but I'll bet not before August. So the waiting continues.

In their defense, I'm still waiting for The Last Gaurdian, which Sony was supposed to release about 3 years ago, so Nintendo isn't the only company with delay issues. PS3 has had a lot of other stuff in the meantime though.

Overall Iwata seems like a very bright man, who knows, maybe they can save the WiiU after all.



MAB said:

I still need to download Need For Speed & Lego City... That's if I can escape the wyrven talon grasp of Monster Hunter



LittleIrves said:

Yeah, as often as Nintendo delays a big release, I feel like they're pretty good about holding their cards close to their chest. Was it 2010 when they revealed Donkey Kong Country Returns and Epic Yarn at E3 and then we're playing them a few months later? Pikmin 3 has been a rare instance of promising a game's release before it was ready. (And Smash Bros.) Regardless, I'd much prefer this stance than annualizing a half-baked product just to squeeze some dough from anxious customers. Keep doing your own thing, Iwata and Co.



GiftedGimp said:

Nintendo, unlike other publishers have always maintained the stance of not releasing a game untill they think its at its best its going to be.
Pikman3 is a prime example.
Thats why although I wish there were more substantial Nintendo releases for the WiiU at the same time I know that a lot of the reason the titles are not out yet is the games arn't upto the quality Nintendo and us gamers want them to be.
I much prefer Nintendo keep tis mindset than follow MS/Sony who put release date windows before game quality.



GiftedGimp said:

@trondood or you could be enjoying, NSMBU, NFSMW, Lego City, Injustice, to name a few titles.. theres really no reason to let the WiiU collect dust.



JohnG said:

I couldn't wait for Wii U to be released last year.
The problem is, I have only bought one game for it other than Nintendo Land that came with it.
It really isn't a good situation that Nintendo have found themselves in!



Robo-goose said:

This reminds me of an article I saw on Destructoid:
Nintendo has been very good for the most part about not shipping broken games that have to be updated repeatedly to finally have most of their bugs worked out. Most large videogame manufacturers tell themselves to hit that release date, THEN fix their games. I'd rather have a polished product in August than a broken product (with fixes on the horizon) in June. Games are always remembered for their problems whether those problems are fixed in the near future through updates or not.



ToneDeath said:

How many other companies can be as big as Nintendo, yet still maintain an artist's integrity? The investors might not be happy with him, but us gamers should be grateful that someone like Satoru Iwata is leading Nintendo to continue delivering experiences that impact, inspire and stay with us long after we've played them, just like our favourite books, films and records do.

I agree with rjejr (post #12) though, that it would be a little less frustrating if they held off on naming a date for releases until they're SURE!
Don't worry about us; Nintendo fans are a patient breed, and Zelda fans in particular know that GREAT things can come to those who wait.



Prof_Elvin_Gadd said:

I couldn't agree with Iwata-san more. I was a bit bummed about Pikmin 3 being delayed until August, but I know that the game will be of great quality and created with the utmost care.

@trondood I play Nintendo Land when people stop by and whatnot, but I wish it had online play!



Emaan said:

I respect Iwata and Nintendo for taking their time. Always quality games, in my opinion. It'll be worth the wait.



NintyMan said:

I definitely agree with Iwata on this. Games like Zelda: Skyward Sword, Kid Icarus Uprising, and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon all benefited from taking more time to develop.



Dpullam said:

I completely respect Nintendo's decision to delay first party titles so they can reach their peak potential. I'd rather have a delayed amazing game over a rushed good game any day.



WingedSnagret said:

Like Miyamoto himself has said, "A rushed game is bad forever, but a delayed game is eventually good."



Drawdler said:

Would Uprising or Luigi's Mansion 2 be amazing as they are without their delay?
I agree with @ToneDeath. I want to thank Nintendo as a whole, not just for giving us great experiences, but working so hard to make sure that they're actually great.
Forever trust in Nintendo!



Omarsonic9 said:

I like it how Nintendo doesn't just care about Money like other companies.
Brilliant, Iwata deserves to be president of Nintendo!



Ralizah said:

The Wii Fit U had better move menu navigation to the GamePad. My only real complaint with the otherwise stellar Wii Fit/Wii Fit + was trying to navigate those cumbersome menus with the Wiimotes. The Wii Fit U would probably be worth a purchase if it meant far easier menu navigation. I just hope we don't have to purchase a new balance board.

Can't wait to see what Pikmin 3 looks like



Vee_Flames said:

Well spoken. Happy that Ninty have not lost hope, since the other consoles are on the verizon.



NintendoPro64 said:

Unlike everyone on the Internet, I have patience. As long as the right games come out by Christmas, my heart will be at ease. Plus no console comes out roaring throughout the its whole first year. Not even the PS2. I like how Nintendo doesn't rush stuff. Honestly, rush jobs would hurt the Wii U in the long run more than delays. Rushing games is EA's thing!



aesupreme1 said:

I prefer quality over quantity. Thus, Nintendo's approach of taking their time to craft an awesome gaming experience is fine by me.



bunnyking said:

I'm all for Nintendo and Iwata-san, the main reason is because if you've been paying attention to the gaming industry, it is in a downturn. There are studios closing left and right even successful studios, and not only that but video game players are suffering a pinch too. Even while Nintendo has the biggest market share with their 3DS they are still losing money. It's a hard economy and every game company is dealing with this. I think only Blizzard/Activision posted positive numbers recently.

There's a lot of negativity going on and to me it is ridiculous to expect sunny days ever day of your life. Especially during this economy.



BakaKnight said:

This "extreme" quality care is what made me love Nintendo in the first place, so glad they are keeping true to their philosophy even in such hard times!
And if waiting means we gonna have gems for WiiU as great as Luigi Mansion 2 and Fire Emblem Awakening are for the 3DS... then waiting never been so sweet ^O^



PokeTune said:

Yeah delayed your game(Pikmin 3)to "polish" what exactly? It looks no better than a few months ago, i.e underwhelming graphically.



TingLz said:

To be fair, I'd rather have a drought than drop $60 on a crappy half-donkeyed game. This is actually a wise move, but at the same time they should have smaller releases ready in case of droughts.

Poketune: "Polish" can mean more than improve the graphics. They can make it run smoother too



Pod said:

Iwata is a cool guy, and I'm certain he's right that the right software WILL sell at full price.

Something that excites people as much as Mario 64 or Wii Sports did will always get people's wallet out.



RikuzeYre said:

@PokeTune Gameplay you bloody idiot.(And how the game runs isnt always about framerate, Pikmin itself is very intensive , they may be streamlining things on that front)They havent even changed the demo yet sheesh



RikuzeYre said:

Duke nukem went through development hell, as did Aliens. Development hell=//= simple delays. A better comparison would have been if Rayman Legends turned out to be crap because of the delay ( which it wont)



sinalefa said:

It is hard to promise a solid release date because so many new challenges may arise during development, and most of the time Nintendo seems to make the most of their games.

But they have to offer some release dates, so people won't be like "at least tell us when it is coming! I can't stand it!!" even if they will be later like "why did you delay it? It is taking forever. I can't stand it!!"

I am lucky enough to own several consoles, so I can juggle them. I am currently playing two games that were delayed and that got great reviews: Bioshock Infinite and Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon. I love to have those delays if they mean the product will be amazing.



MasterWario said:

This makes sense...there are many games I would like to buy now that we have things like Steam and eShop, but I don't have money to buy all the games, and thus only buy a select few that really interest me.



banacheck said:

I much prefer Nintendo keep tis mindset than follow MS/Sony who put release date windows before game quality.

Sony doesn't put release date windows before the quality of there game's, "The Last of Us" is a good example of that. Some 3rd party support do do that naming no name's Bethesda, which is not down to Sony.

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