News Article

Iwata: Getting The Attention Of Gamers Is Harder Than Ever

Posted by Damien McFerran

"The ability to pay attention is limited"

Gamers have more distractions than ever before — not only are there three main console makers, but players are also tempted with smartphone, tablet and web-based games, meaning that the amount of time they have to devote to any single title is reduced. Compare this to two decades ago, and most gamers would perhaps get one new title every few weeks, if they were lucky — a very different situation.

Of course, it's not just games that cause distractions - elements such as social networking pull people away as well, and having the internet at your fingertips is a temptation in itself.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata feels that this "information overload" makes his company's job harder than ever:

What I feel most now is that getting the attention of customers in video games is much more difficult than before. With all of the information that people have access to now, the ability to pay attention is limited. These big differences occur, whether we like it or not.

However, during the same interview Iwata was keen to point out the positive benefits of elements like social networking, which helped Animal Crossing: New Leaf achieve its incredible popularity. The game launched last year in Japan yet it continues to sell well, and Iwata attributes this evergreen success to people talking about the game online.

Do you personally feel that your gaming time is being limited by the rise of smartphones and tablets? Post a comment to tell us.


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User Comments (70)



Grubdog said:

Yep, a lot of gamers these days disgust me. I see more tweets about opening, planning and buying games than actually playing them. It's impossible to enjoy a solid meaty game when you have notifications popping up every 7 seconds.



DreamOn said:

I'm not a gamer but I do only play most Nintendo first party releases so my attention is undivided, Mr. Iwata!



AddDavey said:

I honestly don't think that mobile gaming will become the norm, I own a smartphone and have games on it but they're only there to kill a few minutes during trips to town or in between TV shows, they can not compete with the kinds of games you can get on a dedicated gaming device.



tsm7 said:

The industry is facing challenges other entertainment industries have faced. Film faced VHS, DVDs, Blurays, television, streaming yet movie theaters exist to this day. Why? Because the experience is still different.



Quickman said:

There are a lot of AMIGA games available on the PlayBook, they even run natively on the OS, so I was really excited to play games like Chaos Engine, Desert Strike, Alien Breed and Turrican.. problem is that they are very difficult to control with the touchscreen.

You're limited on those devices to just swipes and taps, ironically though Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks would be a perfect fit for touchscreen so great games can be made on those platforms.



The-Chosen-one said:

Nintendo has to advertise better and more, there arent enough commercials for the WiiU, that explains how the controller works, or how the WiiU is a new console. more trailers that actually show how the wiiU is special.



19Robb92 said:

Well it's not like they've done a good job. The advertisement for WiiU has been horrid and so has the messaging. It may have gotten harder to grab consumers attention, but this is more Nintendo's own fault than anything else.



cornishlee said:

I don't own a tablet, I haven't played a game on a mobile phone since Snake and I don't understand the purpose of Facebook. I guess that makes me a luddite.

Oh, and "most gamers would perhaps get one new title every few weeks" - has that really changed? I'm aghast - how can people afford that in the current climate? I've bought an average of one game every two months this year - including eshop purchases. Partly, that's because little has released for the Wii U but also, any more than that and I think my girlfriend would kill me.



Fazermint said:

@19Robb92 A hard truth that many are reluctant to admit is that the Wii U is nothing special, console-wise. Advertisement should be focused on the games rather than the console. I didn't buy a Wii U because of the gamepad, I bought one to be able to play X when it comes out.



19Robb92 said:

That's one of Nintendo's main problems as well I believe. They have, ever since the beginning, thought that the GamePad was something very neat and special. This despite the fact that tablets had already been well established among the public before the WiiU was even released. It was nothing new or extraordinary from the get go. That was a big miss by them.

I agree that the games are what they need to focus on. We'll see how that goes later this year.



micronean said:

"Compare this to two decades ago, and most gamers would perhaps get one new title every few weeks, if they were lucky — a very different situation".

One new title every few weeks? Are you nuts?!? Back in '94, games used to cost almost $100! In 1989, Super Mario games never went below $50. A kid (which, at the time was the major consumer of video games--not the 24-35 demographic) would be lucky to get three games a year. The rest of the time you rented or borrowed from a friend.

People today are inundated with media, yes, but it isn't information that attracts people to go elsewhere. it's the different buying options that are out there. In Nintendo's case, attention is with "Hardcore" 3rd party developers. If Nintendo wants attention, it's going to have to create it with a brand-new "hardcore" IP that will make the Xbox owners of the world stand up and listen. And so far it hasn't happened.



wario007 said:

this is not true, but your policy is outdated, you can not dwell only on their games, now players want all or nothing ..
You will see how they will sell PS4, 150 million and more ..
Grow up and change the policy!



Scollurio said:

Seriously, the only big fault about Nintendo is really that the Wii U is lackluster. If they came up with something similar like PS4 or XBOXONE with a traditional controller and maybe a tablet for remote-play and additional input as a peripheral of some sort they'd have 3rd party support, get the easy ports too and everything would be different. It's good Nintendo tries to be different all the time, but sometimes different is not necessary. Why come up with a new controller and new ways to play if a) you don't even know yourself how to best use it and b) people have come to a point where the controller is the standard input device even more and more so on PC too, why not just do whats proven to be good. Or if you're Nintendo and you don't want to swim with the crowd, why dump motion controls from last gen? It was good, not everyone liked it but it was good!

Just imagine, a Wii with same power (and OTHER NAME than Wii U) like PS4 with controllers still intact form previous gen. All those great multiplatform titles with wonderful motion control on top of it, titles that never came to see the light of the day on Wii.. but now...
Things look even grimmer on Wii U.



LeVideoGamer said:

If they improved their advertising campaigns, maybe more of the general public would take notice. The commercials I've seen on TV have all been terrible.

When they start advertising games like Sonic Lost World, Wind Waker HD, Super Mario 3D World, etc. hopefully they focus on what the games have to offer, not just "look at what this shiny new controller does!"



mjhopkins81 said:

@The-Chosen-one EXACTLY. I may come across as a relic of bygone era, but I remember seeing Nintendo commercials on television rather frequently throughout the 80s and 90s. They had their own magazine, for Christ's sake, which they sold and destroyed. It's hard to believe that they can't figure out why it's hard to get gamers' attention when we never see a freakin' commercial in any medium, other than on their own website.



kyuubikid213 said:

@Scollurio But then there's nothing "Nintendo" about the system.

The GamePad being included adds awide array of new play styles the other systems can't do without making the consumer drop another $300+.

It just needs more third party games, better marketing, and more sales. Once all of those come around in their logical order, the Wii U will be fine.



mjhopkins81 said:

The problem is simple:

Nintendo has been loathe to jump into the 21 Century.

When everyone else started moving to a digital distribution model (for new releases), Nintendo stuck with physical;

when everyone else moved on to web-based/mobile-based purchases for later download, Nintendo stuck with console-exclusive purchases;

when everyone else moved on to cross-platform (within the same company) User IDs and multi-console purchases/downloads, Nintendo stuck with console-locked User IDs and purchases/downloads;

when everyone else moved on to HD graphics and more powerful internal specs, Nintendo stuck with specs that don't impress 3rd Party Developers (for better or worse, that's unclear);

when everyone else in the entire world moved on to consumer-friendly, user-friendly, and professionally designed websites, Nintendo stuck with an early 00s Java nightmare that's slow, glitchy, and difficult to navigate.

While I love Nintendo products dearly, as someone who works in promotional events, they really have been so far behind the curve, it's not even funny.



aaallenbrah said:

I think Iwatas theory of owing Animal Crossings continued sale to the internet is very valid. Tumblr and Twitter seem to be all over that game, its made me begin saving for a 3DS myself!



Scollurio said:

Well the only thing "Nintendo" about the Wii U at the moment is that its not selling well. Don't get me wrong, I love Nintendo, always did. But a "modern" and "up to snuff" console could still be Nintendo by the service they offer, there would still be the Miiverse and their wonderful games and as I said maybe there could be a tablet peripheral too for the so often touted asymmetric multiplayer and such.

As of now I don't see any justification for the gamepad at all except remote play (which isn't a selling point for many and not too innovative either) and easier menue navigation. No one - not even Nintendo themselves - had a great idea/use for the gamepad yet.

So I don't see anything awesome thats being called "Nintendo" on the Wii U. I so waited for Nintendos next thing after Wii and again they botched it, in my opinion. I will eventually get one at some point because I love their games, but it will always have that underlying feeling of "if they just had... ".

And about third party support. There won't be considerably more. Trust me on this, not that I am an expert but its logical. Xbox, PS and PC basicly share the same architecture, ports are made easily and quicky, "The Crew" was ported from PS4 to PS4 in just 6 months by 3 people! This won't be possible with the Wii U, it has other architecture, less power (even if modern engines are scalable its some extra work) and a very small install base. Heck its install base is so miserable, even if sales lift off later the year with their first party games, they'll never even reach PREORDERS for PS4 level.



Scollurio said:

It's simple, Wii had some AWESOME games, now imagine them in a machine same power as PS4, with the controls you love and better online. It wouldn't have taken anymore fancy than that.

It's like in the car industry, there are so many brands, they're all basicly doing the same and still for most of them it works out really well co-existing with basicly the same product, why should the videogame industry be any different?



MAB said:

The gaming industry is like the car industry... Doors closing everywhere



FineLerv said:

@Cohort I actually gave up on the Commodore emulator on my iPhone because of the touchscreen. The controls had a huge impact on my experience. Joystick+touchscreen is great; touchscreen alone is good for maybe one or two games with substance.



rjejr said:

Eveything he said in general is true, except how it pertains to the Wii U. The Wii Us biggest problem was launching without either Smash Bros or Mario Kart. Have 1 of those ready at launch, another 6 months later, a new Zelda 6 months later. Use the other games to fill in the gaps. It will be at least 1 1/2 years before any of those 3 arrive, and no sign at all of Metroid. What did they expect?

The people who bought Wii for Fit and Sports dont follow an upgrade cycle, they follow fads. They may never buy a Wii U.



RedRocBoy said:

I'm still very surprised @ some of your guys comments. Calling the Wii U lackluster, I understand it may not be as "powerful" as the PS4 & X-BOXONE but I believe it's more than completely capable of holding it's own in the upcoming generation. With nobody even attempting to push and explore the consoles power I think it's completely crazy to judge it. I really hate this "instant" generation.



Mahe said:

You know why, Iwata? Because the 3DS and Wii U just didn't have as many games and as many good games as the DS and Wii did. Neither will probably reach the variety of their predecessors.

Also, get rid of the stupid Nintendo Directs. They aren't doing you any good.



Subie98 said:

Smartphones nor tablets take away time from my gaming. I won't buy a tablet they are too over priced for what you get. They aren't that great to justify the price of 400+ for a worth while tablet



DualWielding said:

The problem is he realize that now, but after the Wii Nintendo had the mentality of "gimmicks sells consoles" they were obviously counting on the gamepad to become a fad and sell the console just like motion control did for the Wii, since that didn't happen they are struggling now, since their whole strategy relied on the gimmick catching on...



ricklongo said:

I don't own a tablet, and I rarely ever use my smartphone for anything other than phone calls. So yeah, they got my attention, but I do understand how this could be a problem regarding less dedicated gamers.



JayMiller1988 said:

It's hard only because there are no games for it, and the fact that half the world hasn't seen a Wii U commercial that made any sense.



Marioman64 said:

my little sister thought the gamepad was the wiiU itself, and then a month later she noticed the wii U and was like "when did we get a black Wii?" -facepalm-



BossBattles said:

People/gamers have changed. They are more insane and unhappy, therefore its hard for them to enjoy genuine gaming experiences that nintendo offers.



ultraraichu said:

It even harder keeping their attention as well. As soon as most of them buy a new game, they're already keen on getting another one; even if they haven't complete the first one. I guess I shouldn't judge too harshly on that one.



FritzFrapp said:

Funnily enough, I'm playing more now than I have for quite a few years, thanks to Wii U's off-tv play and the excellent games on 3DS. I rarely game on my iPad anymore as the controls suck in so many games.



banacheck said:

The problem with the Wii U could be the GamePad itself, if people don't take to the GamePad or like the idea of it. You really think thay'll pay £350 to find out if thay like the system or not, also these people probably own a Wii & are probably casual gamers. Who don't care about graphics or the next big game etc, so yes these people are very hard to sell a console too. Especially if thay already own a Wii, and the Wii U is not being marketed as the Wii 2, something totally new altogether in there eyes.



Brother_Jolteon said:

They just need to advertise more. I remember those goofy wii commercials with the little white car driving to houses and asking people "will you like to play?" Then you see footage of the game. They need to do stuff like that for wii u, since its not attracting much sales. The more people see it on tv the more they may be persuaded to buy, probably... but it might work. They just need to stop thinking consume cash is just gonna fall into their laps. Saying its revolutionary alone isn't enough. Or, since a vast majority of gamers are male, simply have supermodels holding wii u's infront of game retailers....



Chessasaur said:

At least he's aware that this is a big uphill battle. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't remember the last time I saw someone (kid or adult) while I was out playing on anything except a phone or tablet, and that's only going to get worse. The only recent time I've seen a 3DS "in the wild" was at Comic Con.



Setrodox said:

One reason I haven't bought any smart phone or tablet technology is because I prefer to spend my time gaming on my 3DS and WiiU. I know I would get addicted with the phone or tablet even though I know I would enjoy it less.



Scollurio said:

@LzQuacker and @Subie98
Im not suggesting it's all exactly the same and everyone is doing good I'm saying that not necessarily TESLA is the best car company in the world as much as Nintendo is not automatically the best videogame-console manufacturer in the world just because they try something "too" different.

Again you people seem to jump to conclusions too quick. I personally don't care for a pixel more or less or for some crisper textures here and there as long as they games are good. But Companies DO care about install base, projected sales-opportunity and attach-rate.

The further Nintendo alienates themselves from - if you like to call it - mainstream gaming where it is seen as standard to have a x86 compatible system (for easy PC ports), be similar in specs and power (xboxone and ps4) and have agreed on a universal input medium (the gamepad, also very similar for all, ps4, xbox one and wii U pro controller) the less they will get of the multiplatform-cake.

YOU might not care, I might not care, Nintendo obviously doesn't care either, but of course investors, developers, publishers and last but not least the customers will. Nintendo-core-fans will always buy their console, no matter what Nintendo does, but to widen their audience they need to be more "on par" with whats out there already.

And just for the record: tablet and phone-gaming is not even worth a comment, it's a quick and dirty past-time for people that wouldn't get into serious console gaming anyways... imho.



Nukarmer said:

oh, thank you Iwata! now I know why I don't play Wii U games: I get distracted by smartphones and the Internet and games on other consoles. and not because there are no Wii U games I could play.



JuanitoShet said:

@iMii If you say you play only Nintendo's first-party titles, then yes, you are a gamer, because you're playing their games.



JuanitoShet said:

@Nukarmer Quite the smart-aleck, are we? Nintendo has already stated what they're going to do to revitalize their home console. And you know that as well as anyone else on this site.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I agree on social media and the like getting in the way, people these days sare practically glued to that stuff. On the other hand I don't think mobile and web games are as much to blame, not entirely.

Theres just so many options these days its almost impossible to keep up with everything coming out. Its not just the big established companies anymore like it used to be either, theres a whole lot more competition these days.

On top of that reality takes its toll, and by that I mean limited time and funds. Especially with the way things are right now, money is tight and new releases aren't cheap.



MeloMan said:

In Nintendo's case, I still think that they do not advertise good enough. Nintendo's adverts, commercials, etc. are rarely seen by the masses with $$$ to spend, but these same people definitely are seeing the PS360 commercials, adverts, etc. You can't be secretive of releases, or only aim at the kids, or ONLY release info in Nintendo direct-- those work for people (like myself) that don't mind going to get the info, or, WANTING to find out what the big N has coming out. But Nintendo needs to advert in a way that shoves themselves in our faces to the point where we're like, "Ok! Ok! I get it Nintendo! You showed me a sizzle reel of ALL your game library with a splash of 'this is why you need to buy OUR console or you're missing out'!". Need proof? Think back to the "Now you're playing with power!" or "Play it Loud!" days... we couldn't MISS what Nintendo had to offer.



TingLz said:

@Scollurio How is multiplatforming a long term advantage for everyone? No one will buy a system for its multiplatform games.



Obito_Sigma said:

Pff, I only play games on my Wii U and 3DS at the moment, unless you count solving Sudoku puzzles on the toilet. I can't even play a single PC game, because my computer couldn't even run the simplest PC games such as Organ Trail. I could only play free Web-based games. This means that I depend on the Wii U and 3DS titles for my entertainment. There's no way anything could distract me, with the exception of my education.



Falchion said:

Even though Nintendo is behind the curve on hardware, there software is just as good and most of the time better. The won the last console war even without hd graphics. There biggest problem is getting the casual gamers back or trying to tap into a different market



Subie98 said:

@Scollurio you people? Why are you just throwing me in with the graphics, power war people? I love my Wii u. However I still want a ps4. Ive enjoyed all my Nintendo systems, ive had all the home consoles and couple handheld. Ive also still had all of Sony's home consoles next to them and love them them equally with Nintendo. I grew up with both. Still think your car example is horrible.



Subie98 said:

@MeloMan I agree I havent seen legit worth while Nintendo commercial after the snes era. Does anyone remember Nintendo cereal!? It was tasty...hah. I remember the nintendo cartoons, even capcoms mega man. This blows give me back the 80s and 90s. Ugh im old



MAB said:

But in the end Nintendo makes better games overall compared to Sony, Apple & Microsoft... No competition



Nukarmer said:

@JuanitoShet just fooling around, mate! I know everything there is to know about new games coming soon. and I appreciate what they do as we all here



Scollurio said:

@Subie98 @LzQuacker
Not wanting to step on any toes or throw people all into one pot, sorry if it came along this way. Fine you don't have to like my car example really but still I think it would have done Nintendo good to create something more similar to what the competition did.

And about the multiplatform games, they ARE a must for a long-term success with a wide audience. Not everyone can and wants to afford multiple consoles. Easy example. Me. I love my Nintendogames and think Nintendo is the most sympathic (also most alien) company of them all, but as it stands now, I couldn't see myself only having a Wii U. I already have a PC and a 3DS - so there's my Nintendo-fix right there, and instead of buying another Nintendo Console, so far it seems I go PS4, because I don't want to upgrade my PC anymore (not too much of a fan of the typical PC games anymore) but I still don't want to miss out on certain multiplatform games.

See no one has to agree with me and no one has to give to s*its about my opinion, just sharing it for the consideration.

Under the bottom line Im just disappointed Nintendo came out with the Wii U in the way it is now.



MAB said:

There will be times in all our lives when frustration takes hold. When that happens it's time for people to just move on... These so called mature games don't seem to be helping the mentality of the MicroSony fanboys ↑ ↓



Sceptic said:

He's right in that generic rehashed sludge no longer results in hype and bestsellers. Today's gamers demand something new, fresh and better than what they already have.

Nintendo should print that on their elevator walls. Their bland remakes are well within the attention span of even a three year old. The problem is, even the three year old's attention is not piqued.



Subie98 said:

@Scollurio I get wanting another console for different experiences. Im in the same boat as far as that goes. I dont just enjoy Nintendo's games. I do wish more of the games I like were on Nintendo's systems. Id keep more people from feeling like they are missing out except on exclusives to other consoles. It is what it is though. Every new generation I buy Nintendo's systems first in the first 3-4 months then Sony's 10 months to 1 year later. As much as I love Sony's consoles id probably never need one again if we got all the multiplatform games. Especially if namco would multiplatform their Tales of series.



cdude said:

Everyday iwata tries to place blame on something else and its complete bs every sibgle time. Yes, iwata, its hard to capture peoples attention, gamers especially, when youre releasing hardware that isnt supported with games and isnt that much more impressive than what theyve been playing on already for the better part of ten years.

Xb1 and Ps4 seem to have caught the worlds attention just fine. I wonder why that is...surely smartphones and ipads must be hurting ms and sonys market awareness, too?

Ive has a wiiu since day one. The sales suck because almost a year later theres no reason for me to turn it on. Why not work on fixing that instead of blaming consumers for not caring about you and your crap anymore?

Theres 5 remakes coming this year and a mario game. 2014 is supposed to get kart, smash and x. Maybe yoshi. If this is all we can expect im not buying nintendo new anymore as its just not enough to justify the cost of whats supposed to be a living room entertainment hub that cant even play dvds, let alone bluray.



unrandomsam said:

My Xperia Play has Metal Slug / Arcade R-Type / Blazing Star / Sonic CD / .

Brilliant versions of all of them and physical controls. There is no good 3DS run n gun (DS games I cannot handle the scaling on the 3DS which rules out Metal Slug 7 and Contra 4)).

It has physical controls and a better screen than my 3DS. The problem is not its ability to play games but the fact that it is a terrible phone.

The only shootem up games on the 3DS are more like phone games which is ironic seen as on my phone I have good versions of some of the best ones.



unrandomsam said:

@Sceptic The only really innovative thing is the oculus rift with the treadmill like thing that you go in.

Todays (Playstation and Xbox) gamers want Fifa every year and really poor quality console FPS's each that are slightly better than the last and worse than PC FPS's. They also want to feel like what they have is a premium product they don't people don't make stuff like that anymore. (The Neo Geo and 3DO were loads better than the mainstream and priced accordingly. There is no high end consoles.) I will get a Wii U eventually because it is not Sony. (Don't know any other company that through the years has been so bad to its customers). Dunno about Xbox One probably not. (Might do if Microsoft starts losing heavily to Sony because that is when they do good stuff for the customer).



unrandomsam said:

@Subie98 Last one I can remember is the one for Super Mario Land 2. Where is goes "it's me Wario" I try and avoid advertising in all forms though and think my life is better for it.



Araknie said:

For me seems like everything was indirectly put in the hand of gamers, making them think that Intellectual Properties are them and them only and everything that a developers does has to do it to please them, and not for personal achievement.

If we don't let developers do their job and achieve what they want, it's only obvious that the more they will try to please the more we will cringe.

When nobody said shat about a thing and opinions where just opinion, not absolute declarations of love/war, developers did games because they wanted to see a thing they had in their mind.

Now this is reduced to the indie market because we (aka the internet) talk to death about really everything.

Many times it's simply too much, how many days in a row can you repeat to the same person your perfect roster for SSB4, to make an example, what's the use of repeating over and over and over and over the same things in every forum in the world?

If i even try to say that they said that either i'm butthurt or i don't get sarcasm or some other crap. I've not your opinion and i'm sick of listening to the same joke, if i'm lucky enough to get joke just by reading it with no clue...

Many things are stupid in gaming communities, this ones surely can be amongst them.

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