News Article

Japanese Prime Minister Says the Country's Economy "Can Learn From" Nintendo

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Keeping the faith

Nintendo's stock market value and current financial results may be a long way short of the recent glory days of the Wii and DS era, yet despite that drop in fortunes the company still has substantial cash reserves and is emphasizing plans to evolve its business and return to significant success. The 3DS continues to perform — arguably — above expectations, the Wii U is struggling and awaiting the results of major releases and new strategies, while the mysterious Quality of Life (QOL) platform will see Nintendo launch a new branch of its business.

Despite the pressures and calls for action Nintendo is continuing to evolve and adjust in a way it sees fit. The company still has fans in high places for its business moves, too, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently citing Nintendo as a positive role model for the progress he seeks for the country's overall economy. He gave the example of how Nintendo evolved its business in a dramatic way to find new sources of success as its hanafuda card business shrunk.

Over there, they made hanafuda cards, but gradually the people playing hanafuda decreased. However, that company called Nintendo makes hanafuda cards and whatnot, and I believe that only by doing that, it wasn't able to protect hanafuda.

Abe-san then emphasized how moving into video games and leading that industry was vital to the company's survival.

And at the same time, it is keeping the traditional hanafuda cards. For sure, I think this is something that we can learn from.

Though referencing a key phase of the 1980s, in particular, Abe-san's words certainly have some relevance to Nintendo's current challenges in 2014. While balancing the success of the 3DS with efforts to revive the Wii U, the company is making plans to "redefine" entertainment both through games and the QOL project. Nintendo is once again reacting to shifting sands, and the results will be fascinating to see.

Image credit: The Telegraph


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User Comments (33)



SpookyMeths said:

I don't see the relevance. You could easily speculate that Nintendo is facing a similar shift in business as it did 30 years ago, but Mr. Abe's comments don't support or debunk that argument. He was referring specifically to Nintendo's move to video games in the early 80s. Here, it's just out-of-context musings.



MuchoMochi said:

I'm a firm believer that once Nintendo drops out of the race that console gaming will soon follow. Both Sony and Microsoft don't appear to be in it for much longer what with Sony being projected to have an 80% chance of being out of business within 5 years, and the new leader of the Xbox division showing pretty blatant interests in selling the brand. That'll be a sad day when gaming as we know it is gone.



SpookyMeths said:

@MuchoMochi Well, I knew their consumer electronics were struggling, and I'm not surprised that they're getting out of that. There's no reason to buy a Sony TV over a Samsung or Panasonic. I do love my Vaio though, and last I heard, their smartphones had decent sales.

The PS4 has lost billions so far, but all new consoles do. That's normal.

Their biggest source of revenue isn't even electronics though. Sony as a whole will survive. Just some branches of their electronics won't. They still have their financial holdings company and film division too, both of which are very profitable.



MuchoMochi said:

@CaviarMeths Hey man trust me, I don't want the Playstation brand to go anywhere, some of my favorite games of all time are on their platforms. Looking at it objectively, Sony is not in the greatest of places and I don't think the Playstation will be able to keep them a float.Their biggest source of revenue may not be electronics but it's definitely a business they have been struggling to keep their iron fist around and it is costing them a lot.



Einherjar said:

@CaviarMeths @MuchoMochi What could end up breaking their neck is the cost/development time factor that keeps and keeps increasing with each generation. The leap in hardware from generation to generation becomes more and more steep while the results are getting less and less obvious.
The best example at the moment would be Kojimas Fox Engine for MGS V. The game looks almost identical on all platforms, next and last gen. That showes, that even the older consoles still have untapped potential.
Now, the production costs and development times have skyrocketed, as shown by Ubisofts decision to only focus on franchise material because it enables them to reuse existing assets more than once, cutting down on both cost and time.
If other devs follow the same principle, this generation could end up looking pretty bleak and stale pretty fast. Last generation might have profited from milking serieses, from streamlining yearly releases but the audiences interests might change again and thats where all this costly high tech might come back and bite them.



SpookyMeths said:

@Einherjar Yeah, I definitely feel that we're approaching the plateau of diminishing returns. You can only push power so much before your revenue simply has no way of covering the costs. Final Fantasy XV is the poster boy for ballooning budget and extended development cycle that is unlikely to turn a profit now. It would have if they just released it on PS360 three years ago, but it's too late.

Developers will need to start allocating their resources elsewhere. Watching a developer excitedly talking about how realistic the fish-swimming physics are invokes a little pity, to be honest.



MuchoMochi said:

@Einherjar That is specifically why I think Nintendo is the only company that'll release another console after this generation, be it another home console or handheld/console combo. They are the latest to HD development, and despite the grievances we have with some of their business choices they are still alive and turning a profit on their games,not to mention they have a majority control on the handheld market. This may be hurting due to the casuals moving to mobile games, but it's still a valid business model that will make money for Nintendo. Wether or not they will continue being a gaming company remains to be seen, but what I do see in the future is console gaming changing to the point where it's not recognized by the previous generation gamers.



CaptOlimar30 said:

The comparison between Nintendo jumping from Hanafuda cards to videogames and the suggested leap from videogames to QOL entertainment doesn't ring entirely true. The QOL and videogames markets are markets Nintendo is seeking to combine and have been seeking to combine arguably since the Wii and pretty blatantly since Wii Fit. If Nintendo made videogames about Hanafuda cards then the comparison would be a little more truthful.

However, there is a clearer message that Nintendo can learn from the Shinzo's interpretation of their own past. He points out that the important thing for Japan is to blend new ideas with old ones and I think this is something Nintendo should do within the videogame markets. They should look toward their past but also think about where they want to be in the future and I think part of doing this for them involves QOL, it's not a leap as was Hanafuda cards to videogames but instead it's a natural progression.



audiobrainiac said:

I think some may really over analyze this, but everyone takes away what they will. Nevertheless pretty cool to see someone in power reference Nintendo, my heros



Inkling said:

@MuchoMochi Yeah, Microsoft's new head doesn't love the XBOX much, and Sony has said with PS Now, PlayStation will eventually turn into a service.



MuchoMochi said:

@GamerOZO I'm not sure Sony ever claimed it was going to fully become a streaming service. Especially since they haven't even figured out how successful it is. I think they'll wait and see what kind of profit it brings.



Action51 said:

I think the point people are missing here, is that in the face of a few difficult years with a hostile media, and fair-weather third party conglomerates, Nintendo manages not to lay off hundreds or thousands of people while their executives scurry off with the profits.

What Mr. Abe is talking about, is how Nintendo operate with good business ethics. Mr Iwata takes a paycut while not caving in to short-sighted investors who would gut the essence of the company at the first sign of trouble.(Like mobile games where you pay $0.99 to make Mario jump higher)

This is big picture stuff. I'm very pleased to see that after decades of stagnation and failure, Japan seems ready to dump the supply-side dogma and return to long term economic sanity. A shame we don't have such wisdom in our leaders here in the USA and UK.



NintyMan said:

Despite this current struggle, it is a smart idea to take some notice of Nintendo's practices and history. We in the West certainly need to do so!



Einherjar said:

@MuchoMochi I dont see Nintendo changing at all. They will stay as stubborn and old fashioned as they are now, and honestly ? I think that this is theyr strongest point.
They simply wont change who they are no matter the circumstances. While others have experimented quite heavily and landed a few hits and misses, nintendo stayed constant. And as naive as it sounds, thats the reason why pretty much any nintendo device will be a day1 purchase for me, because i know what i will get out of it.
Whenever a a company lands a hit, this hit gets milked until its dry and nobody can stand it anymore. If its a failure, it will get axed emediatly.
Nintendo doesnt release a major zelda game every year although they sell like hot buns, simply because they prefer quality over quantity. And in my opinion, thats the way to go in a long run.
Banking on current trends and quick cash may get you a head start, but if you cant keep up with it over the whole track, you might tire out before the finish line.



DarkKirby said:

Learn from Nintendo? They are stubbornly trying to make the casual focused company model that brought them so much success with the Wii work in a time when casuals simply don't care for consoles anymore.

Not sure insisting on doing something that doesn't work because it worked great "once upon a time" is something to learn from.



SecondServing said:

Learn from Nintendo? You probably don't want to do that. Just look at the Wii U. Their pride and stubborn attitude has dug them into a hole the can't escape. They are going to drop out of the console business after the Wii U probably. They'll be strictly portable.



TheRealThanos said:

@MuchoMochi well said and kudo's on the articles; I like people that support comments with actual facts. Be prepared to get a lot of negativity thrown at you if you keep using actual info instead of purely your own opinion in comments though: I myself, even though as a person I of course still have my own opinion, try to do that a lot (provide undeniable facts) but still there are idiots that will go against that and they will use their own opinions or shortsightedness as facts against what you're saying. Truth be damned, because an opinion on the internet is apparently worth so much more. Too bad that the virtuality of it all doesn't allow for slapping some sense into some of them because there are a couple of individuals to be found on the web that seem in desperate need of it...
@Einherjar good point, not quite how most people will or do see it, considering some of the comments, and of course something needs to happen for things to take a turn for the better, but it is good to continuously read (or rather sense) that Nintendo is indeed trying very hard to remain calm in this sh*t storm they're in right now. And most importantly, they themselves never lose faith in their own ability, even in the face of the current state of affairs. If anything, maybe THAT is something that we can learn from Nintendo, like some individuals on here and on other sites and media (especially all the doomsday prophets) should. And faith in oneself is never a bad thing and it certainly doesn't necessarily have to equate to blindness (in Nintendo's case) or mindless fanboyism. (in our case) Nintendo has been around for some time now and they will be around for longer than you and I will live to see, in one form or another, although gaming will of course always be a part of that.
@SecondServing I think you're more than jumping the gun here. I sometimes wonder what's with teenagers nowadays that they have to spell doom every time somebody farts? No offense, but it seems to me that you're way too young to go and make comments like that based on a snapshot of current events without even seeing the bigger picture. Two to three years of (somewhat debatable) failure does not a dropout make. And then you have to stack that against well over thirty years of near complete mastery of the video game hardware trade. Something neither Sony nor Microsoft can say, or even will ever achieve, seeing how it's going for them in today's world. In business, as in life, anything or anyone that in their lifetime has a total success rate of over 90% is a shining example indeed.
And although the Wii U may perhaps die a premature death if nothing major happens this year, Nintendo itself not only has more than enough cash to survive 2 or 3 more so called "console failures" and then still have enough left to develop another, but they are also so very rooted in this business of making consoles, that they will never stop doing that as long as they have something to say about it. Don't forget, handhelds came way later, and they don't have to go handheld only to react to the market or whatever, because the handheld gaming market isn't for casuals, whereas the mobile market is.
Otherwise you should also have to wonder why Sony decided to take another stab at it if that weren't true. Sure, there are some bigger, more elaborate games on tablets and smart phones nowadays, but by far the most of them are nowhere near a console or handheld experience in depth and story. So even though it is absolutely true that something has got to happen, like I said to @Einherjar, that still does not, and will not mean Nintendo will give up that part of their business that they have the most experience in, and that is making home consoles... (although I could see them pull something like the rumored project Fusion, but that too still means both a handheld and a home console in some form)



Einherjar said:

@TheRealThanos The biggest problem aroud here is, that each and everyone is a marketing expert, a sales expert, a community manager, a developing expert and so forth. People are talking about business decisions and strategys they have no idea of and still think that only their opinion is right.
When even your own fanbase is "holier than thou" you are in trouble. Its the "Sonic fanbase syndrome" all over again, a franchise that was ruined time after time because developers tried to listen to the audience who talked about things they had no clue of.
Nintendo on the other hands respects their fanbase but is too stubborn to be handfed by it. And i guess that irks people around here to the point to let them forget why theyre here in the first place,
Nintendo does and keeps on doing, what they are doing best and have done right in decades, and suddenly, its all wrong because its not just another PS4one ?
People are constantly refering to the "golden SNES days" but if asked what games defined that era i bet 90% will answer with just 1st party titles and still, nowadays its a huge problem that the WiiU isnt flooded by games, noone ever plays.
"It would give the system a wider range of games / give more choices"
Then why are people constantly whining about the high retail prices and that they are barely able to afford every game ? With first class 1st party titles, you dont need to decide. You can afford them, you dont have to choose and youll probably really like them. Whats so wrong about that ? It has been that since the GC which had some games still considered the best of theyr respective generation.
Or look at the whining over at the Arkham Knight comment section. Its a game especially catered towards the more powerful next gen consoles. Of course there is no WiiU version, there isnt even a PS360 version. Where is the surprise in that ?
Are you mad about Mercedes only making cars because you want a bycicle so much ? The whining on this site reaches new highs every day with each and each article postet, its getting ridiculous.
They are complaining about companys expecting insane sales numbers from games to be declared a success at the same time that they themself pout about the fact that the WiiU isnt more widespread than a waterfaucet.
"Keep politics out of our videogames" Look at yourself people, your are the ones bringig it into your hobby yourselfes. Get a system, enjoy the games, if not, get another one. The choice is there, no one forces you to stay with one particular system



TheRealThanos said:

@Einherjar Agreed. And by the way: I actually am a Sales & Marketing professional (not offended, mind you), albeit in the b2b IT sector, so I market and sell hard- and software and have been doing so for well over 13 years, and one of my other tasks is to make company profile sketches (including financial health of companies and so on to see if they are interesting enough to want as a client) so with having that amount of experience under my belt I actually can say a couple of sensible things and share my two cents from a business point of view, same as some on here are game developers and can give us their insight from that angle, but like with any of us, statements/predictions are never 100% seeing as none of us work at Nintendo, so we can only be sure of so many things. And I hate usage of opinions as fact. Like you already said: WAY too many experts in general and it is VERY presumptuous to tell a company what they SHOULD do, again because we aren't aware of the internal affairs of Nintendo and some measures that may or may not have been taken by Nintendo recently will not show a tangible effect for some time to come; that is just not how businesses work. They think and act long term, so we will probably not see the results of these measures until later this year. In general, besides financial injections, there are no quick fixes in business life.
I also can't help but grin at comments of people stating that Nintendo should give them what they want, like they used to. That is truly hilarious if you know how the trick works. Because basically that's all it is: a (marketing) trick. Companies practically NEVER give the consumer what they want, they just make you THINK that you want or need their product or service, and if it is a reasonably decent company, then they will throw in some solid customer service as a bonus, but NOT as a requirement. Hell, I do that almost every day. For example: there's this CRM (Customer Relationship Management) package that I market and sell, and although it is indeed quite good and has a lot of options to play with, it isn't necessarily an enormous improvement for every company, but of course when I approach companies I make damn sure that it still comes across as though it is the next best thing since sliced bread...
Anyway, we as customers will just have to wait and see, as with all services and/or products. And if people don't like it, well then just don't buy it. It REALLY is that simple.



Einherjar said:

@TheRealThanos Jim Terling (Escapist - JimQuisition) once made a good video about "what consumers want". Its basicly what they already got. No one knows what they actually need until its there.
Like you said, a company never does exactly what its consumer base wants. And its pretty impossible to do so, you simply cant please each and every customer youve got.
And giving them what they want, considering the demands posted on here basicly boils down to a PS4 with the nintendo logo slapped onto it for good measure.
No identity, no uniquenes, no nintendo. You may not want what nintendo is offering or doing, but it is definitly needed in the business as a whole. It simply shows that there is in fact another route besides the focus group tested mainstream "appeal to everyone or die" routine. That there is still someone fond of older genres, the simplicity of "fun over spectacle" , "gameplay over everything else"



TheRealThanos said:

@Einherjar Agreed again. If companies would truly jump to every request their customers made, they would run themselves into the ground in no time at all. People also tend to forget that when they first experienced the NES, SNES or N64 they were still a young, wide-eyed and easily impressible kid, (probably between 3 and 10 years of age) so OF COURSE it was a wonderful and sometimes even magical experience. Nearly every kid loves toys and video games but once we reach adulthood, logic and negativity creeps in and we start to compare, complain and demand things, because we "know" things could be better. Thinking back they put on their rosy colored glasses and sort of cut and paste their childhood emotions and sentiments onto an adult mind, which doesn't even make sense. Everything changes when you grow up: taste in food, music, movies and hobbies too, at least for most people. Maybe not all of these things but definitely some of them. I would look kind of silly still dancing and singing along with the Disney Club... (although I do of course still enjoy the movies)
On a side note I do have to say that, hypothetically speaking, there could be some merit to Nintendo and Sony joining forces, as a sort of an Asian gaming powerhouse. Nintendo with their great and unique IP's and know-how of making games a truly fun experience, and Sony with it's more Westernized vision to help gain more ground with third parties and not to forget the whiny "hardcore" gamers. Could be interesting, although we all know that is NEVER going to happen. Also, I'll have to look up that Jim Terling video. Might be interesting to share with my colleagues and some of the new guys that are still learning.
By the way, has anyone ever mentioned that your English is quite good for someone from Germany? No offense to others, but as an American living and working in the Netherlands (and having to deal with companies throughout Europe) I come across a lot of Europeans that aren't very good English speakers. And as you might know the Dutch in general don't consider Germans to be amongst the ones that are good in English (or any foreign language for that matter). Funny thing is that I've been living here for so long, I sometimes make more mistakes in my English than someone who isn't a native English speaker...



Einherjar said:

@TheRealThanos Jim Steling himself is a pretty strange person, i hope that this doesnt turn you away from his videos, because he usually hits the nail on the head pretty hard. What i found most interesting about him is, that if there is a problem with devs, he takes astab at them, if theres a community problem, he shoots at them as well. He generally doesnt take sides. I highly recommend the JimQuisition show over at the escapist.
Also, thanks for the compliment I do my best to get my point across, getting grammar, spelling etc right is a nice bonus
My english ia s mixture of school education and self tought knowledge. The reason why most germans arent that good at english is, because our english classes are severely lacking. They are boring, dry and teach only the bare minimum, often not even enough to read an untranslated instruction manual -.- For me, that simply wasnt enough. To be honest, videogames were the main drive behind it. I wanted to play so many games that werent translated, that i started to teach it to myself. And it looks like it worked
I work for an international logistics company. I usualy have to jump in if we have a foreign customer and act as some sort of "makeshift translator"
Even my bosses couldnt speak english to save their lives...but oh well



TheRealThanos said:

@Einherjar You're welcome. But as far as the Dutch are concerned, I believe it is more their experience that Germans in general, and some other people like the French and Italians sort of refuse to speak another language, the exception like you of course neglected. From my own experience with the Dutch that is largely due to them being tired of people in other countries always expecting them (apparently) to speak their language, because the Dutch are known to speak more than their own language and to be honest, Dutch isn't an easy language for a foreigner to learn. I speak and write it fluently now, but I have been living here for almost 30 years now, so I feel that people are allowed to expect that from me...
As for Jim Steling: you make it sound more and more interesting, so I'll definitely look into it, and objectivity is a very good thing, I would almost say that it is the holy grail of debating, since we all have our own opinion, rightfully or not (because some people on here are so off the mark, they would hardly be visible on a reality radar) and it is difficult to set that aside or to truly consider another one's points before blindly countering them if you don't agree and just want to make your point without accepting that no one is right all the time. Personally I think that on NLife, and I mention it every now and then in my comments as you may have seen, a LOT of people confuse their own opinions with fact, and besides it being enormously irritating it is also very shortsighted and stupid, although I also suspect some people are not even aware that they are doing it, so you can't blame them. Don't know if it is an intelligence or grammar thing, but either way it is so simple to show that it is only your opinion and not a fact by starting your sentence with "I find/think that" or "in my opinion"" instead of saying "this IS stupid" or something similar.



Einherjar said:

@TheRealThanos I can tell you, that this "they speak everything" stereotype comes from the fact, that dutch can be kinda understood, even if you just know german. We have many words in common, some can be easily derived and our grammar is similar. Thats why most germans selfishly think, that the dutch could very well understand them and "go the extra mile" to speak german... Back in the day, many many years ago, we had a bungalow at the "klein Canada" campgrounds in afferden. I still remember that it was rather easy to communicate, even though no one spoke the others language properly.
And yes, most germans really are lazy not to learn a different language. My father for instance is one of these "hardliner" people who think that he "will not need anything besides his motherlanguage. We are in germany, there is no need to speek anything else"

On topic: Thats basicly what i meant with the whole "holier than thou" mentality. Most people set what THEY think is right as the norm for everything else. If its needed or not.
Take the community features of the PSN or XBL for instance. I know that both offer a lot of possibilitys, but that still doesnt make them a standart or a threshold for other systems.
For a fact, i know many many people who dont use these features at all and are rather annoyed by the constant popup alerts.
Its not a industry starndard, its a thing of taste and preference. If this feature is so important to you, why are you buying a system that doesnt have it ? Just go with the ones that do have it.
Whats the point of making every system the same ? Streamlining things has already done major damage to the whole industry. I enjoy some diversity, and im aware that this also is just a question of taste.
So if you get one system, dont complain about it not being like another.
If you can choose between a bycicle and a car, dont buy the bike and complain that it isnt as fast and comfortable as the car would have been.



TheRealThanos said:

@Einherjar Interesting point about Dutch and German. It does seem somewhat similar to me as well, although my Dutch is now fluent while German grammar honestly still baffles me. Still have to wonder what the deal is with the Dutch and the other countries expecting them to speak their language as well, though...

On topic: nice to know that my idea about this isn't too harsh since you largely think along the same lines.

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