News Article

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?

[via gamasutra.com]

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User Comments (37)

Fazermint

#3

Fazermint said:

Nintendo actually cares about making great games, while all Microsoft cares about is dem moneyz. Ironically, MS won't be getting my moneyz.

MAB

#4

MAB said:

While all the PSBOX & 3rd party developers ask 'is it gun?' ;)

NintyMan

#7

NintyMan said:

This reminds me of a great quote from Satoru Iwata.
“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”

Isn't it refreshing to have a boss who understands your work because he did it before? Or a boss who can have a sense of humor and fun? Or a boss who is passionate for his products for what they are rather than just making good profits?

The problem with Nintendo's former president, Yamauchi, was that he was a businessman first and foremost and didn't care much about the games as long as they were good enough to make him money, and so he got into disputes with Miyamoto over the creation of a game. Thankfully, he was wise enough to appoint a man who would understand the video game industry more than him since he was someone who actually made the games. Ever since then, Iwata has been beloved among his colleagues, not only because he could understand them as developers, but that he was friends with them when he was a developer as well. It creates a nice team.

Akira_1975

#8

Akira_1975 said:

The XBox One is an obscene abomination and makes me thankful for companies like Nintendo.

Dark_Link

#9

Dark_Link said:

I love the enthusiasm and it always shows on nintendo games but Iwata completely botched the launch of the Wii U console. They should have had two of their system sellers ready by launch and that is just poor planning on Iwata's part. If they had 2 of these 4 games ready such as Mario Kart, Zelda, Smash Bros, Mario 3D world the Wii U would not be in the position it's in right now.

Rief

#10

Rief said:

Nintendo wants to make Games that are fun, and their Games are fun!
While others want to make Games that have great graphics and nothing else.
What happened to the World?
These Graphic-Games sell better than Games that are fun. That is just plain wrong, i mean, aren't games games because you have fun with them?

Varia01

#11

Varia01 said:

Nintendo cares about the consumers, they're more willing to give gamers entertainment rather then earn money. That is great.

Bengals76

#13

Bengals76 said:

None of this makes up for the fact that I bought my WiiU in 2012, and the games are not coming-out untill 2014. Oh, and were are the online co-op games and wireless headset?

SkywardCrowbar

#14

SkywardCrowbar said:

This legitimately makes me more ok with the delays. I have full confidence that these guy will not let bad games come out that are from Nintendo. These games will be awesome, they'll sell tons of copies, they'll move tons of units.

GiftedGimp

#15

GiftedGimp said:

Nintendo have had this business attitude of making the hardware to fit the game ideas they have & not releasing games untill they feel its ready, rather than ensuring a game is released by a set date regardless of bugs or flaws since they entered the gaming industry. Sincd ther are longest operating console manufacturer/Publisher/Developer it shows thier business attitude works.
Who'd of thought a gaming company who put gameplay and gamers gaming experiences first, Rather than putting how to turn over the most profit in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort first, would of lasted so long.
Not to mention Nintendo is the only console manufacture to make profit over the past few years.

Shambo

#16

Shambo said:

i too bought my wii u on release, but i don't regret it. i had great fun with it, use it as a tablet now between couch-multiplayer on nintendoland, zombiu and tekken or online multiplayer on re:revelations or mh3u. true, i'm upset by rayman's delay, scribblenauts still being unclear as to whatever happened with releasing it in europe, and third parties 'playing it safe', but in the end, nintendo barely ever disappointed me. in a year from now, my wii u won't remember what it felt like to be off.

nintendo is the only company focusing on games and original gaming hardware. i don't get how gamers can even start considering to hate them, they're the only ones who care about you and your entertainment, gamers!

russellohh

#17

russellohh said:

I've worked for a major publisher, as well as alongside indie devs for several years, and in all of that time, there would always be the hater. Someone who shrieks at Nintendo for being a kiddie system, or not having "THE MORE GEE-BEES!" etc, etc. They would point out that Call of Duty has more polygons and GTA has more cursing, or that the PS3 has more... cores. Clearly, we need to only develop for Xbox, because it has the GBs. And the polys.
And I would always reply "But is it more FUN?" Sure, I love Mass Effect, and own it on PS3, Xbox, PC and Wii U. (There are differences in the experience, dangit!) and I've beaten Fallout 3 more times than I can count. but in the end... is it fun? Years before I got into game development, a co-worker rambled about why Half-Life 2 was better than Halo. He talked about more vehicles, more barrels, more gun types, and 2 more levels in the main campaign. But... is it fun? I'd ask. Sure, I loved the end of the game, and that Russian-zombie-headcrab town. But when Halo starts with me escacping an exploding ship, crash landing on a mysterious world, and fighting 1-foot tall Hunters with just a pistol? and Half-Life started with a subway ride, plugging in power cables, and a see-saw brick puzzle? Interesting, yes, cinematic, yes, immersive, maybe. But... fun? That's why NintenDO when everyone else.. yeah.

GiftedGimp

#18

GiftedGimp said:

@Bengals76 not actually a fully true comment, there have been games released through the year, albiet the first half of the year was a bit slow and 1st party games have been massivley lacking. Wario & Watch onwards through the remaining months of the year will see a lot of titles released on WiiU.

Wireless headset? you've got one.. it called a wired headset plugged into the gamepad. Most games allow voice chat and game sound to be output via the gamepad with a headset connected even while using a pro controller to play the game and the tv to veiw the game. Some games automatically adjust others you manually change the settings.

There are online games and a few co-op games, but it does seem a bit of a missed oportunity by nintendo not including it some of thier titles, actually the only accurate point you made.

Einherjar

#19

Einherjar said:

This "quality bar" is your north star eh ? No need to advertise your games nintendo, they are already bought :P

idork99

#21

idork99 said:

I do hope the Wii U can succeed. Even though there's nothing coming out this year that would entice me to make a purchase. And although I'm still upset about the 12-racers in Mario Kart 8, I know I'll make a purchase the day that game comes out as it is my favorite gaming franchise!

Nintendo has always been successful because of their software and the time they take with production to insure that it's "fun." I feel old school gamers see and understand Nintendo's philosophies while many other gamers don't bother to look or take the time with the game as it's not the next big thing and is graphically inferior to other systems in regards to power. Powerful graphics are great. But if the game is not fun then what's the point? If one wants to see beautiful images on a screen with minimal interaction, couldn't one just buy a blu-ray player and enjoy that?

ULTRA-64

#22

ULTRA-64 said:

Forget tech talk....his attitude is 'next-gen'!!
As an ethical shopper it warms my heart to know my money goes to the right company when it comes to gaming =)

Yodelman64

#23

Yodelman64 said:

I think people started to forget to see if a game is fun once so many games started to come out that were so much alike. Since they were so much alike people just look at them adn think, are they bigger, so they have more ofd A,B and Y?

Yodelman64

#24

Yodelman64 said:

I think people started to forget to see if a game is fun once so many games started to come out that were so much alike. Since they were so much alike people just look at them adn think, are they bigger, so they have more ofd A,B and Y?

Yodelman64

#25

Yodelman64 said:

I think that game companies ahve become way to much buisness oriented. they have almost made making games a mathematic formula. Hwere they will just plug things in. Like all the open world ganes now a days. I feel like they just go and say, okay so we need to make the game world bigger, add a couple of weapons, have ti look a little better, and there we go, we ahve an open world game.

ILikeRead

#26

ILikeRead said:

it's important to have a positive attitude as a leader to get through tough times otherwise you'll show weakness and fail. cant say that for microsoft and their fans though.

element187

#27

element187 said:

I can't say if its right or wrong... But I certainly appreciate it. You can make the case that the 3DS and Wii U's sloppy launch is directly attributed that that, but you would then also have to admit that perhaps the wildly successful DS and Wii were the result of having devs at the helm.

All I know is I can trust that Nintendo software is such a high quality I don't even have to read reviews to know a game is going to be amazing.... although I still get nervous when games have a review embargo, what are they hiding? Thats what I thought about Luigi's Mansion 2 before release, but turns out it was unfounded because the game turned out to be amazing.

gavn64

#28

gavn64 said:

This has always been there core strength they realise that if you rush a game it might get immediate sales but will overall hurt the franchise just look at how gears, and god of war sales tailed off this gen. This isn't new either the much feared Yamauichi delayed the launch of a whole console just because Miyamoto told him Mario 64 wasn't ready that takes real balls and look how that turned out 17!!! years later and 3D mario is still a huge seller sunshine 5.5mil, Galaxy 10mil, and Galaxy 2 7mil, games just like everything in life must be nurtured i wonder if COD will be around in 17 years i doubt it.

AcesHigh

#31

AcesHigh said:

So profound! I absolutely love how Nintendo does business. It's how they do it now and how they have always conducted business. I'm gushing like a fanboy. But nothing gets me more excited than companies that "get it". And companies that know they make their coin on providing the consumer with the best goods and services possible.

And BTW, I remember when it was "cool" when developers said, "it will be done when it's done". But when Nintendo does it, "they don't know what they're doing". LOL! Sheeple...

Souflee

#32

Souflee said:

Go Nintendo!

(still hate Super Mario 3D world) what a stupid idea, if you want to sell Wii U's make a spectacular game, worthy of the franchise that lives up to the bar raised by the galaxy games, not this I'll eat it 'cause i'm hungry and there's nothing else type of game,

chiptoon

#35

chiptoon said:

This is why I am still shocked and saddened whenever I see so called gamers bad mouthing Nintendo. Even if you don't like what they make (which I find extremely hard to understand), their business methods and corporate values are something that deserve to be supported by anyone who loves games.

mrkuribo

#36

mrkuribo said:

This is how all game development should be. Games are supposed to be fun to play. That's their main purpose and that's where the "art" of gaming lies. Too much emphasis is put on cinematic story-telling, marketing budgets and graphics nowadays, when all that matters is the gameplay and how fun that is. Thank god for Nintendo and indies, who make GAMES and not interactive, boring films.

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