Nintendo's Charlie Scibetta Explains the Benefits of Developers Running the Company
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
"'Is it fun?' Most executives don't ask that question first"
During E3, Nintendo of America sent its marketing and product executives into the wilds of the expo floor to be quizzed by various games writers. In some respects that's given us confirmation of things we already knew, such as the continued resistance to any thoughts of going mobile, and the expectation that the healthy lineup of upcoming Wii U releases will bring the system a notable bump in sales.
In some respects the company line has been followed a little too closely, but Nintendo of America's senior director of corporate communications, Charlie Scibetta, did get quizzed by Gamasutra on the relevance of the company's leading executives being, at heart and in experience, developers. In the opinion of some that can be a negative, if there's disagreement on business strategies — which have legs with the poor launches of 3DS (since recovered) and Wii U — or those that perceive Nintendo's divergent path from its rival to be a big risk. On the other hand, it can be argued that having executives such as Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto at the core of key decision-making means the company doesn't forget its strengths, of top-quality software aligned with innovative hardware.
Scibetta emphasized that various delays to Wii U software had been to ensure quality, and made the point that Nintendo's leadership perhaps has a unique perspective over its rivals.
Nintendo always feels pressure to make sure that we're giving consumers a great gameplay experience. That doesn't change from one platform to the next, and one game to the next. That quality bar is always there. That's our North Star: doing right by these games, and characters, and consumers that have helped build those franchises in the first place.
I would agree that our decisions are made by developers. Mr. Iwata and Mr. Miyamoto, being developers, approach this question first and foremost whenever they make a decision: 'Is it fun?' Most executives don't ask that question first, in terms of all the considerations they have. If a game is going to be shipped by Nintendo, it has to be fun.
We think that bringing innovation and new gameplay mechanics to the experience is the way to go.
The Wii U is, at this moment, under pressure to deliver in the second half of 2013, a pressure that can be attributed — in part at least — to the various delayed games that are now appearing in time for the Holiday season. Nintendo's been here before, and in the case of the 3DS the company's leadership can claim that short terms issues were resolved by decisive action and a delivery of quality games. The trick is repeating that turnaround on Wii U.
We certainly hope the results will come through, and give the developer-led company grounds for optimism in 2014 and beyond. What do you think of Scibetta's comments on quality focus and developer leadership? Will it be a combination that brings success for Wii U?