Earlier this week we reported on the news that Foxconn, manufacturer for many of the world’s biggest technology companies, employed under-age interns to work on Wii U manufacturing. Foxconn admitted that it had employed 14-16 year old school attendees and stated that it had “apologized to each of the students for our role in this action”. It was damaging news for Nintendo, which responded by issuing the following statement.
Nintendo is in communication with Foxconn and is investigating the matter. We take our responsibilities as a global company very seriously and are committed to an ethical policy on sourcing, manufacture and labor. In order to ensure the continued fulfillment of our social responsibility throughout our supply chain, we established the Nintendo CSR Procurement Guidelines in July 2008. We require that all production partners, including Foxconn, comply with these Guidelines, which are based on relevant laws, international standards and guidelines. If we were to find that any of our production partners did not meet our guidelines, we would require them to modify their practices according to Nintendo’s policy. For more information about Nintendo’s Corporate Social Responsibility report, please visit http://www.nintendo.co.jp/csr/en/index.html
In many respects, Nintendo’s response pushed the necessary buttons but did little more, assuring consumers that it would deal with the situation and apply its own guidelines and standards. In fact, some comments to our original news story predicted that response, with the company reminding us all about these expectations without actually going as far as to threaten a move away from Foxconn. Some may have wished to see Nintendo slap down its manufacturing partner in stronger terms, but its reserved statement and a modest requirement that Foxconn may need to “modify” its practices shows that, beyond dealing with the controversy, Nintendo doesn’t seem to be concerned enough to seek alternative manufacturing partners.
The biggest issue with this incident, we’d argue, isn’t just the fact that teenagers were illegally employed and, according to accounts, forced to work long hours doing difficult, physical work, but the undeniable reality that it’s the latest of a number of serious issues involving Foxconn. We’ve also seen statements remarkably similar to Nintendo’s from companies such as Apple and Microsoft, both having to tackle recent controversies of their own.
These developments aren’t unique this year, either, with Chinese workers repeatedly being driven to extreme actions by their working conditions. Back in May 2010 it was reported by Gamasutra that Nintendo was investigating labour conditions at factories manufacturing Wii consoles, due to the news that ten Foxconn employees had committed suicide by jumping from their dormitory buildings in preceding months. Tellingly, Gamasutra concluded its report with the following words.
The Mario house is reportedly conducting a survey of Foxconn's practices to see if the manufacturer is within those guidelines, although it's unclear what kind of action would be taken if Foxconn fails to meet those standards.
Little seemed to have changed in Foxconn’s practices by January 2012, as a Microsoft-centric story published by GamesIndustry.biz demonstrates. On that occasion 300 workers at a Foxconn plant manufacturing Xbox 360 consoles threatened a mass-suicide. The workers had been offered the choice of continuing work or accepting a compensated dismissal, but when a number chose the latter the monetary incentive was removed, prompting the mass demonstration. Not only was the late withdrawal of compensation callous, but the drastic actions of a large number of workers was proof of how difficult their situation had become. The same article recounts the well-known and infamous claim that Foxconn’s response to high suicide rates was to install anti-suicide nets on the roofs of 12 factories. Microsoft, for its part, said it was “investigating this issue”.
It goes on, with reports in June this year that 1000 workers rioted at a facility for around two hours, with dozens later arrested. There’s a catalogue of incidents that ultimately comes back to one core theme: cheap labour, as provided by Foxconn in its Chinese factories, is bringing an enormous range of gadgets and technological luxuries to the world at affordable prices, with the cost of misery for its employees. These aren’t rare, one-off incidents of disgruntled workers, but the desperate acts of over-worked and poorly treated staff over a sustained period of time.
There is potential light at the end of the tunnel that could prompt an improvement in Foxconn’s practices. Earlier this year, admittedly before some of these latest problems, the Fair Labor Association secured a major agreement with Foxconn and its most famous customer, Apple, to make definitive improvements at three particular facilities. As detailed by Engadget, it was the result of a detailed report that outlined the extent to which Chinese labour laws were being broken, with employees often working over 60 hours a week and more than seven consecutive days during peak periods. The agreement reached will apparently ensure that Chinese legal codes are met by July 2013, with the number of monthly overtime hours – amongst various improvements – to be cut from 80 to 36 hours per month. Production levels will apparently be maintained not by enforcing unreasonable working hours, but by employing thousands of extra workers. It’s expected, as a result, that Apple products will see a slight increase in cost in the U.S.
Time will tell, but if these changes are made in these Apple factories then it should increase pressure on companies such as Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and others to ensure that similar terms are followed at their respective facilities. Apple, with its enormous level of success and profits, is arguably in the best position to take a financial hit, but it doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that all companies using Foxconn enforce similar standards. The ultimate goal, surely, is to improve worker’s rights and ensure that our technological treats don’t come at the cost of morally unacceptable manufacturing processes.
Ultimately, part of the responsibility will lie with us, as consumers. Much of our focus when a new system is announced, much like it has been with Wii U, is on the price. For many it’s a question of how long we need to save to add a console to our collection as these are, after all, luxury items. Will we, as lovers of technology, be willing to have less devices at our disposal or pay a little more? It’s the million dollar question, as Nintendo and others will ultimately make decisions based on business sense, while no doubt making earnest but potentially futile efforts to improve the practices of Foxconn.
If Nintendo consoles go up in price in the future to accommodate higher standards in worker’s rights, but gamers vote with their wallets and say they won’t pay that much money, then we’ll only have ourselves to blame.
We'd love to know what you think about these issues and the incidents highlighted above. Join in the debate in the comments section and vote in our polls, below.
Do revelations about Wii U's manufacturing affect your decision to buy the system? (283 votes)
- Yes, I will avoid buying one for now3%
- Yes, it makes me think twice about buying11%
- No, I'll buy a Wii U even if I'm unhappy about Foxconn52%
- No, it doesn't affect my buying decision34%
Please login to vote in this poll.
How strongly do you care about issues with Foxconn? (266 votes)
- I think it's important and want to see changes45%
- It matters, but I don't see what difference I can make32%
- It's a fact of life, so I don't really pay attention to it14%
- I don't care at all9%
Please login to vote in this poll.
It is truly disgusting! Something really does need to be done about it! But in the mean time, I will continue to buy Nintendo products as I do continue to support the Nintendo brand.
I think the kids that are working there, should at least get enough money to buy a Wii U themselves.
This made me sad. And it makes me sad that I know I'll end up buying the Wii U anyway.
"If Nintendo consoles go up in price in the future to accommodate higher standards in worker’s rights, but gamers vote with their wallets and say they won’t pay that much money, then we’ll only have ourselves to blame."
That last sentence is one people really need to think about instead of always demanding everything at the lowest possible price. Very good article.
That is quite a controversial article really. But one that I highly agree with.
I mentioned this in the original post about this issue a couple of days ago. I would like to see us consumers have an option to buy a new piece of tech like the Wii U from a place with questionable labor practices like China for cheaper versus a Made in Japan, USA, UK, etc. at a higher cost (and presumably better quality). Really put the onus on us consumers. This will at least make us think about this labor situation. I will be honest , I don't know if I would go for the more expensive version but I wish I had the option.
@squashie: That's not how you'll get things to change.
This title is offensive. How about 'reaping hundreds of millions in profits' comes at a cost. Contrary to what multinational corporations would like us to believe, it is possible to pay fair wages, adhere to a fair work practices, AND to make a reasonable profit.
@rodoubleb - While I see what you're saying, I think the fact that both Nintendo and Sony (including its gaming division) have been reporting losses is enlightening, and I seem to recall that Microsoft's gaming division also suffered losses for quite a while. Let's not forget that Nintendo had to slash the 3DS retail cost, but still made losses on every system until this summer. These losses are despite the cheap labour prevalent in the industry.
Nintendo's made monster profits a lot in recent years when Wii and DS boomed, yes, but it's interesting that a price-drop played a big part in reviving 3DS (with other factors like better games and features, of course), and consumers were more enthusiastic. Would the games library of last Christmas have been enough to match that turnaround if the 3DS had still been $250? That's debatable.
I think we are all used to cheap gadgets and systems, and recent financial reports show that companies struggle to turn big profits even when giving us these cheap costs through various means, such as Foxconn manufacturing. I'd argue that if Nintendo was paying more to produce its hardware it would either be making bigger losses, or struggling to sell systems at higher prices. Hence the tagline, there are no easy answers.
@rodoubleb Think about this: if the iPhone were assembled in the US, the price would easily double to accommodate the much more expensively maintained work force. And yet we wonder why companies outsource to China!
the only statement I will say if it takes for me to pay $400US to buy a deluxe to improve wages and working conditions in these factories then so be it...
I don't mind.
As long as the teens are employed, and not forced to work, I think it's fine. If I had could have gotten a job working for minimum wage at 14 I'd have taken it.
We all become moral guardians for the duration of these articles.
And then almost immediately forget.
@arrmixer: that's certainly admirable, but I'd hazard a guess and say that many others would not feel that way. Thus, volume of sales goes down, the price needs to be increased to maintain profits, meaning less people buying it etc.
People wanting better things for equal or less cash is a real problem these days. For example, there has been a lot of debate in Australia recently regarding renewable energy. You ask the population how many people think we should transition to renewable energy, and you get an overwhelming majority saying yes. However, when it turns out that one actually has to, heaven forbid, pay more for renewable energy, suddenly everybody decides that perhaps it's not such a good idea after all. Of course, making a concerted effort to use less power is completely out of the question...
I would pay more to buy video game stuffs in general if they weren't made by companies with bad working conditions and underpayed employees.
But as it stands, I'm to weak willed not to buy video games.
@Raylax yeah...sad but true
Man, I would hate to work at a factory. It seems so... robotic. Just seeing that picture of the work force makes me cringe.
I'm very angry with Foxconn, but I'm still getting a Wii U.
For me paying more is not the answer, as that only moves the burden from the workers to the consumers. The head honchos of those companies will still get the same fat paycheck (or even fatter, as we would be paying more) while the workers will be slightly less overworked, and I will have to pay more for the console.
So my point is: ALL parts involved should help to deal with this situation for it to improve.
Some of you will not agree with me, but I see some positives that 14-16 years old boys and girls working on factories like this. First thing: experience Yes I know its bad, but I think it's a voluntarily job, they are not necessarily forced to work. Kids want money, in order to buy something. I didn't visit US or Europe, but I heard that children who are in the same age group voluntarily working, I believe it's chocolate factory or something.
Sorry if I said something that offends you. I truly apologise.
@Azooooz Well technically North America has it too but people don't call it "underage workers". We call it co-op placements though generally people don't work the full week (at least not at the high school I was from).
One of the problems here I find is that we gave corporations the rights of a human being but for some reason don't hold them to the societal norms and expectations of a human being. Obviously, it's not something easy to do but will the majority of companies attempt that otherwise?
I'm just gonna hold off on a sound, buying decision untill this is resolved. and if big N takes defeat for this
I'll have my self to blame?
As far as I know, there's no evidence Nintendo knew what was going on before us?
This is a tricky controversial topic, it's like being forced to press 1 of 2 buttons. One to kill someone close to you, the next to kill 3 people you don't know. A catch 22.
Althought my heart goes out to all the mistreated worker in comparison to our "Better Countries", we have reach a point on time that if we take action to change how China/America run their business someone is going to pay. I guess it's more easier to see the immediate problem then the possible consequences of the solutions that the other side who face.
With that said, I have to side with cheaper products. It sounds wrong but at least I'm being honest with myself and the unfortunate situation/economy I'm in. There more reason I pick this but it more of a domestic issue (Internet, small business, etc) then the International one we have now.
@Azooooz: No, these "underage workers" are illegally being held against their will, and are forced to work at the cost of their education and families. They work in atrocious conditions and for an abysmal compensation they call "minimum wage". On the other hand, I'm what an underage worker can be classified as. I'm 14, I freelance as a writer for local magazines/papers around here as a job, as well as online sites too. I voluntarily do that, and I'm adequately compensated. See the difference?
While we may say we are willing to pay an inflated price to support these underprivileged children for a better quality of life, the sad truth is that too many consumers are oblivious to the fact that this is what's going on in the parts of the world where our products are being manufactured. And if prices were raised to be able to help these workers get adequately compensated, the retail prices for these products would at least be almost double what they are now - and guess what would result from that? Consumer outrages, reduction of profits, businesses shutting down etc. And while this is all very disheartening to consider, the economy just can't afford it right now especially without any manufacturing businesses than can provide that same thing within our own countries - and the starting up of such an industry in places like the U.K., U.S., France, Germany etc. would still require our products to be retailed at equally inflated prices. This immoral exploitation is what makes our products affordable, and it is a very, very big cost for our benefit as consumers.
It's just upsetting, and further so by the fact that there's nothing that can currently be done about it right now. At the end of the day, all we can do is oppose this with our morality and speech alone and in an hour, forget all about it and continue with our daily lives, buying these products as we go along. It sounds insensitive, I know, but unfortunately, it's the sad truth of our current state globally.
Correct me if I'm wrong but it's not like this is forced slave labor. I think the working conditions in general and miniscule wages are the real issue — not that someone is 16 instead of 18. And even then it's just a world issue resulting from global capitalism and overpopulation that is impossible to solve at the rate we are growing.
However, these are of course luxury items and the price is being driven down by saving money by mistreating the workers. I think raising prices alongside a global campaign for human rights could work.
But, controversially, I also think these positions are very low skilled jobs — and they aren't being forced to do them. If some of these workers are in fact well educated but forced to work low skilled jobs to feed their family because of a lack of opportunity or good paying jobs, then that gets back to overpopulation and the faults of the country and we simply can't control the population of other countries nor can we control the opportunities they provide to their citizens or their regulations. We could certainly put pressure on them from a human rights perspective, and Nintendo, Apple, and Sony could be great leaders in that.
Like others have pointed out, not much we can do...we'll forget about it once the system is out and running in our living rooms.
It's the ugly side of capitalism nobody wants to see, but it's there.
An inconvenient truth, some would say.
Also, Foxconn is only one of hundreds of companies that do that.
@Squiggle55: Refer to the first part of comment #24.
I would pay more if it were made in America.
No this is nothing like work experience and it's not just some extra pocket money for them. I can't believe some of you say it's a good thing! These kids are forced to work by adults and sometimes even by their own families. The working conditions are driving adults to suicide so imagine how a child feels.
Also I don't like the title to this article. I do like to visit this site for gaming news but you seem to insanely bias to the point where you act like Nintendo can do no wrong. It's like the title reads "child labour is used in the manufacture of the Wii U but, hey, at least we get a cheap console"! From reading the article I know that's not your intent but you need to be a bit more critical sometimes and say it like it is.
With regards to the question in the article, this is an easy one for me as I decided some time ago I won't be getting a Wii U. However if I was interested in one I'd gladly pay a higher price if I knew the console was mug fractured fairly. Cheap cost is no excuse and if prices rise for electronics then so be it. They should no longer be using Foxconn, none of them should. This is not a price to pay for a cheap console and companies are going to have to learn that you can't just play ignorant on things like this.
I don't know if I can afford a Wii U, and I definitely couldn't should it be any higher. The fact is — from a business standpoint — it being higher would absolutely ruin it. Look at the PS3, its launch price made many people unable to buy it. The price has to be competitive with other systems, which as of right now, is lower than the Wii U already. Nintendo isn't being ignorant either, the articles clearly states they are looking into it.
My father worked for 7 straight weeks last summer (2011) without a day off remodeling Madison Square Garden, and yes he's union. There have been tv programs made about all the work they accomplished, but it didn't cover the 2 guys near him who literally had heart attacks on the job. He's 65 and was going to retire last year but he needed the money so kept working.
Capitalism is like this everywhere with everybody, it isn't just kids in China.
@madgear: I don't think Nintendo was actually aware of the exploitation happening in the manufacturing of their consoles, so they weren't advertently doing any wrong. Now that it's been brought to their attention, they have recently issued a statement of them taking responsibility and consequent action on the issue, however I doubt this will be adequate enough to completely cease the practice either way. Nintendo's definitely not "playing ignorant", if you ask me.
And (not directed at anyone in particular) for me, I personally see nothing wrong with this title. It says, "Affordable Consoles Come At A Cost". Essentially, the title deciphered as it is says that the monetary benefit of unknowing consumers is the result of an unfair exploitation at the big expense of other human beings in the industry, not that this is a winning situation that should have its practices ignored on our own side.
Perhaps a more controversial title would've been, "Exploitation In China is What Gives Us Affordable Consoles"... That sounds almost like something positive. (shudder)
It's great that you guys are giving coverage to this issue, because it would be relatively easy to sweep it under the rug and just forget about it..
I think one of the problems is, that it's all well and good for an NGO like the FLA to get involved and negotiate with Foxxcon and Apple for better working conditions, but at the end of the day, it's the Chinese Government that facilitates these conditions....and they've shown throughout the course a willingness to turn a blind eye to such abuses.
The Chinese Government provide all sorts of incentives for foreign companies to shift their production to China. They provide free factories, all kinds of tax breaks, including an exemption from a tax on moving capital outside of China. Cheap labour & weak worker rights are also a key part of that incentive for foreign businesses to set up shop in China.
Unless the Chinese government are involved in the process and enforce standards through laws, the FLA are simply relying on the goodwill of Apple and Foxconn to meet those negotiated standards.
I think that both the consumer 'and' the manufacturers involved can share the burden of any price increase. It's a little hard though to accept this notion that the onus falls back on the consumer to make up the difference, considering the astronomical profits of the companies involved.
This isn't limited to technology as the Fair Trade movement applies to food and clothing. We in the West have enjoyed cheap luxuries for decades at the expense of poor people around the globe. It's not too much to ask us to pay a fair price to ensure decent standards for these workers and I will happily shoulder any extra financial burden. We should all get used to doing with less since the days of cheap credit and "unlimited" growth seem to be behind us.
This is an important article, but clearly, all we are doing here is typing up some responses and then we'll go right back to our everyday lives.
It's not that I don't care, it's that I can't do anything about it and actually doing something would be detrimental to me. I like paying a small sum of money compared to the amount I'd have to pay if it were manufactured more legally or in America. In the end, I won't even remember typing this comment and you'll all forget about reading it. And what about those Chinese children making consoles? They'll still be doing it.
Another thing I want to point out is that perhaps this labor isn't that bad for us. I know that is an awful thing to say, but think about it. What if their hard work allows us to actually be able to get our systems during Launch Week as opposed to a way later date? An abundance of Wii Us instead of enough to cover the preorders.
@kyuubikid213 wow that was one of the sickest comments i have ever read online
so a piece of machinery is more important than a human life is sad and unthoughtful i would totally pay 100-150$ more so the labour was not as hard on the kids
It's clear that this kind of treatment of employees is a major problem in China, not just Foxconn, and is a direct result of an oppressive regime that does very little to improve the living and working conditions of the lower class citizens. Actually, that's a massive understatement - they actively promote these dismal conditions to continue to provide the cheapest labour option for foreign investors.
And can you really blame Nintendo, or any other videogame company, for going after the cheapest option? Yeah, I'm pretty sure the majority of the consumer base would be happy to buy a Wii U for $500-600, just to feel at ease knowing that no workers were taken advantage of...
I wish i was in China, getting a job would be easier
This is why America has lost so many jobs. Companies outsource to the cheapest employees possible. And we're still going to buy the product. I know I will. It's a problem, but not a problem anyone actually wants to see fixed because they just care about getting the product.
@Suicune ignorance is using a cheap manufacturer in China without questioning why it is so. They're investigating it now it has come to their attention but they have neglected to ask questions from the start. If they have lower manufacturing costs than can be found elsewhere, the first logical conclusion has to be because of cheap and/or child labour.
I'm sorry that you can't afford a Wii U but that's a pretty trivial problem in comparison. You'll just have to do without and I don't see why people should have to work under poor conditions just so it's easier for some of us to afford a games console.
I dont care as long as I get a quality and reasonably priced product to purchase.
@Mr_LztheBleh well because china is communist i can see why they don't have to worry about people getting a raise.
@Brick its easy there but what you expect from safe place to work on.
also i though the people working there committed suicide was just a bs, i never knew it was that bad.
if the kids made the decision themself to work there and the company treat them nicely, i don't think it's a problem for me
...And people like @-Max- are a prime example of the type of consumers I was talking about. Good grief, grow a central nervous system or something.
Communism is the name of the game, alright. The Government has no concern for the people in the country, only for the leaders. And that trickles down to Foxconns work ethics as well. They don't care how tired and worn out there workforce is, as long as they get the job done.
It's a sad state of affairs alright, but I don't see how I can do anything to stop it. There would have to be a massive boycotting in response to it, and I just can't see that happening. This doesn't change my decision to buy the console, but it does leave a sour taste in my mouth over it. I don't condone what Foxconn has done, and Nintendo should be held accountable to a certain extent, but I just can't change to not purchasing because of that. I just hope that someday it will change.
I'm not paying the current price for Wii U.
Even if nintendo stops using foxconn, other companies will still continue to use it like apple sony microsoft and other computer companies.
I've honestly never really thought of this subject, I always assumed most of the assembly was done by automated machines. After learning about it though, I must say I'd rather pay a higher price to have Nintendo make their products at their own plants like they used to. Ever since I started having problems with the Wii, DS Lite, and even my 3DS, I've felt that Nintendo should go back to manufacturing their own products. This does actually impact my decision on buying the Wii U, if I were looking for just any console to buy, this would probably make me decide not to, but because it's Nintendo I feel that I can't not have the next Nintendo system. I feel guilty admitting that, but I am also admitting that I would gladly pay a higher price to see this stop.
You think that's bad, have you ever heard the term blood diamonds? The diamond market is much more vicious than this.
News flash: The world has problems.
I'm having a little existentialist crisis right now.
Lets just say I will not be buying the Wii U, or any consumer electronic for a good long time.
Obviously Foxconn needs to follow the law, but personally, I think the child labor laws need to be severely modified. Throughout history, boys typically started working at a young age. It taught them responsibility and prepared them to be men. I don't want kids to be taken advantage of, but I do think they should be allowed to work. I'd rather see a 14 year doing something constructive and making some money rather than sitting around playing video-games until he magically "grows up" at 18.
This somewhat reminds me of the question once asked me that if I had to slaughter my own cow, I would still eat steak and to my partial shame the answer was yes because I knew I am not that oblivious and the same goes for this topic, because most of us probably know that Asian companies are used like that by their own and by Western companies because it offers them very cheap workforces.
And like many of you, even though I absolutely detest this situation, I still want to have a Wii U, so in the end I will still buy one, even though I truly hate how they are (apparently) produced...
If only the prices were affordable...Wii U is way overpriced for specs so old.
@iroxyorsox So, what about everything else you own? More likely than not, over half of the stuff you even LOOK at on a day-to-day basis was made by child labor from China. Go ahead and pay an extra 10-20% on everything you own so it can be made in America.
I'm not being heartless, I'm stating the truth. And once this article goes to the dark depths of NintendoLife, no one else will care either.
@dimi Then I suppose the PS3 is overpriced, too? $250 for tech so old? JEEZ LOUISE! IT SHOULD BE $200 BY NOW!!
I'm getting a little out of hand...
I care about everyone on the planet and I believe people shouldn't be forced to do anything. I value human lives greatly over a piece of technology.
But the thing is, we can't do anything about it. And posting comments about other people being "heartless" or "lacking a central nervous system" isn't doing anything either. I'm pretty sure that words on paper are getting those poor Chinese children through to the next day!
And to top it all off, not only can we not do anything, we aren't going to. You see, although it is a cruel, sick, and twisted world; this child labor is getting our systems to us at a cheap price. I remember pretty much all of you whining so hard about the Wii Us $300 price tag. Oh, but now, child labor will make you put in another 50+%? Bull. You guys keep going on about how cheap the damn thing should be because of its "old tech" and other nonsense, but child labor--OH!--that just pushes the boundary!!
And once this topic goes under, are we going to resurface it? Are we going to keep forum threads going about it? Are we going to do anything? CLEARLY NOT. One of you started a PETITION about the "bad" online the Wii U has when the thing isn't even out yet and THIS is going on! Shows where your priorities are!
Can we all just get off our high horses and be honest for one minute? Yes, this is an awful thing and something should be done about it, but the fact of the matter is that none of us are doing anything about it and we will all enjoy our cheaper systems because of it!
If you even try to tell me you don't enjoy your technology (which was most likely manufactured in China through this labor) because of this, you're a liar. If you try to post some kind of reply to make you seem like you're Jesus Christ and a bag of chips, you're pretentious. Be honest with YOURSELF for THREE SECONDS. You are probably still going to buy a Wii U. You will probably enjoy it until the next Nintendo system comes out. And you will probably forget all about this and the labor that went into making it.
Seriously though, it isn't like those kids are going to see this and tape a cookie to the Wii U just for you...so get over it. If it bugs you that much, do something. Make a petition. Go to China and confront them face to face. Do something besides read this comment and any other. Go on then...DO SOMETHING!!!
I find it a little offensive that I'm being told to "do something" about it, when the person is telling me that he "can't do anything about it".
Perhaps you're the one who should get off your high horse.
I included myself in that by saying WE should get off OUR high horses. I can't do anything because I don't know what I could do that would have any effect. And you are replying to comments while also not doing anything. Way to break away from the crowd. I applaud you.
Please don't ban me again.
@_people_against _"child labor" http://endchildlabor.org/?page_id=124
I find it strange that before nintendo announced the price of the wii u many people said that they wouldn't buy it if it was more then $299. Now some people are willing to buy it for $600 if it help the labor force in china and others not at all.
The way I see it donate to a meaningful organization to fight this and/or similar issues if you feel so strongly about it or at least buy the system so all their hard work and sacrifice is not in vine.
@kyuubikid213 I like that type of honest controversial statement of yours.
How about manufacturing those bad boys in USA or UK
Horrible news! I'm not planning to get a Wii-U at launch. This will make that a fact. If at all. I hope our 3DS systems were not made the same way
People are blowing this situation out of proportion. Not because it happened, but that people act like it was a huge unexpected horror on man kind. Is it fantastic that child labor exists? Your opinion of that aside, it's not as uncommon as many articles are making is seem and is one of the many reasons you can get many products for low prices. If you are REALLY that surprised about this then you are naive. It's analogous to saying you think a lion killing a baby zebra is disgusting then eating a burger because you don't think about where it comes from. Many of the products you use were manufactured at factories with very cheap and possibly child labor.
*Copy and pasted from last topic about this because it's the same thing.
developing countries/third world countries get this all the time. I really don't see why people are so shocked...
This is why everything is so "cheap" around here. The dirt cheap working force in China is relied on for most everything manufactured here. If this gets sorted out, everything will increase in price. I'll admit it makes me just want to turn a blind eye.
Good on you, Thomas, for writing and posting this article. Indeed, there are no easy answers, and, in fact, these aren't even easy questions. I voted that the labour issues make me think twice about buying a Wii U, but honestly, I'm still going to buy one. I'm not cancelling my pre-order over this. It's pretty hard these days to avoid products made in China, and many of the things we buy were manufactured under poor working conditions. That doesn't make it right, but it's the reality we live in.
If prices were 20%-30% higher I would be fine with paying more if it made a difference. Anymore than that I would probably have to give it a second thought, because honestly like most people I'm not made of money. They say power corrupts and money is power, that says a lot about a world where profits often take priority over everything else.
Honestly people like @dimi who complain about the cost of consoles being overpriced due to old tech should probably just stick to PCs. Affordable prices or high end tech, pick one because you can't have both.
I would also be willing to pay more if it made a difference. However, my fear is that companies wouldn't actually change anything about labour practices, they'd just charge more and say they were changing things without actually doing so. Call me cynical, but... y'know.
I really don't think Nintendo should be taking heat for this situation. Nintendo wasn't forcing Foxxconn to hire minors to assemble Wii Us. Apple on the other hand, pushed Foxxconn to be more aggressive with their employees in order to meet Apple's demands and deadlines. Also, the Foxxconn suicides were related to Apple's manufacturing line, NOT Nintendo's. The explosion that killed 4 people and seriously injured 30-40 people at Foxxconn happened on the iPad manufacturing line. The reason Steve Jobs chose Tim Cook as his replacement was because Tim Cook is the man who connected Apple to Foxxconn.
Yes, products can be manufactured outside of Foxxconn, but CEOs and Shareholders are unwilling to lower their salaries to make up for the lost profit margin. Apple collects an 80% markup on iPods, and 40-50% markups on iPhones and iPads. Most products have a 3-5% markup from manufacturing to retail, with 5% being substantial. Whereas Apple averages a 50% markup, which is why they are the envy of businesses.
So I think it's disingenuous to guilt trip the consumer (and your readers) into whether or not our conscious will bear the burden of knowing how our products are made, when its the fatcats at the top of the food chain who are encouraging these working conditions to maximize THEIR profits. This is NOT about the consumer. This is about the 1% maintaining their profits. If the news had not reported the tragedies at Foxxconn, do you really think Apple would have said anything to Foxxconn?? The only reason these companies are saying anything is because Foxxconn's practices are being exposed. There's a reason camera crews and news agencies are not allowed inside Foxxconn, and it has nothing to do with "protecting intellectual property" as Apple has stated.
I'm tired of consumers being blamed for Foxxconn's manufacturing practices. Of course consumers want quality products at the lowest cost! Why would I want to pay $5,000 for a phone???? The problem is the CEOs and upper management being paid unsustainable salaries. Apple paid Tim Cook $378 million dollars to be the new CEO of Apple, but they can't pay Foxxconn employees more than $1 a day and they can't drop the price of an iPhone from $650.
So because my iPad arrives with blood stained on the back it's somehow my fault and not Apple's or Foxxconn's??
@sketchturner "I'd rather see a 14 year doing something constructive and making some money rather than sitting around playing video-games until he magically "grows up" at 18."
So they should work so that you can sit around playing video games? You're the one who needs to grow up, kid.
Also, as some of you have pointed out, it is a common problem within manufacture but that doesn't mean it's okay. Consumers generally arn't told about such things but it is still our responsibility once we know. It's the same reason why you shouldn't buy battery eggs, none dolphin friendly tuna or none fair trade coffee. Perhaps something is needed for electronics so we know it's manufactured fairly.
By eck, on another post the whole board goes mad over a bloke making a few pirate copies, yet on this story of Nintendo using kids to make there machines, most of the replies seem to think that is not to bad!! the blind love for Nintendo is sickening at times.
@gundam00 Good point! But who will hold these 1% to task? We still have consumer power with our purchases. Massive corporations like Apple, Nintendo, and Sony are very interested in what the consumers want, which may go against past business practices. We saw this with organic foods, the hybrid and full electric cars, and the general green-washing of brands.
Unfortunately, cynical people in marketing firms can make false adverts and product claims, such as "green", "natural", and "eco-friendly" goods that carry no official government certification. This usually happens when we treat these large, very profit-driven companies like benevolent organizations. I admit it's hard for me not to want to feel this way towards Nintendo. I've been an adamant fan since the NES, only purchasing the big N's consoles and hand-helds. It takes issues like this to realize that even Nintendo will operate by the same set of morals as the rest of the corporate world. I still admire Nintendo for their passion for quality over quantity, but not so much lately. I can't say I'm excited for the Wii U; maybe that's because of nostalgia from great indie-developed titles like Cave Story.
You might want to watch this TED talk from Leslie Chang on her report of actual Chinese workers and their response to questions like "Why do you work at these factories?" I don't think this is an excuse to exploit people in developing nations, and it definitely isn't everyone's opinion in China (see news on recent Foxconn strikes). Still, it's humbling to hear that some of these workers aren't aspiring for "the American dream" and iphones; they just want life experience and education opportunities. Either way, it's probably a good idea to get the opinions of the oppressed before making opinions for them.
I don't think a boycott necessarily makes sense because a hit on sales will eliminate jobs and that's not going to benefit Chinese workers either.
This isn't a simple issue as others have stated and companies would have to work with the Chinese authorities and Foxcomm to ensure any additional revenue was used for enhancing worker conditions.
A better way to communicate your views is an old-fashioned letter writing campaign to those companies like Nintendo who you like products from asking them to do the right thing even if it means raising consumer prices. Letters actually can have impact and I resort to them when I'm not happy with a company's policies.
Most big firms figure that each letter written represents the view of many others who couldn't be bothered to write so as long as your communication is well-written and reasonable you should expect a response. I know I've never had a complaint or query to Nintendo go unanswered so if several people wrote them based upon this article alone (referencing it wouldn't hurt to draw attention to the comments) I cannot think Nintendo would ignore it.
We may have consumer power but boycotting won't help much. How are companies suppose to know that we're boycotting because of factory conditions in China, and not something else?
Letting consumers know whats happening with companies like Foxconn is a good idea but its not exactly easy to expose it. Camera crews can't even get in and companies like these go out of their way to hide everything, you would need a surprise inspection. Besides its not like you can just stick "no child labor" on the box. What @Sean_Aaron said could work but it would still take a lot, and Nintendo is just one company.
@dirtyplastic Most people here are only saying theres nothing we can really do, only a very few immature posts are doing what you said. The fact is unless someone here has some serious connections theres not much a bunch of people posting on a news blog can do.
@startropics3 Thanks for the reply. However, I don't think Nintendo is to blame for underage workers. I don't think Nintendo was pushing Foxxconn to hire underage employees. Basically, any company who contracts out to Foxxconn is setting themselves up for public humiliation. I was dismayed when I learned the 3DS was made at Foxxconn after I purchased one. But I don't like how the media says its "Western Demand" that is the driving force behind Foxxconn malpractice. No one is picketing an Apple store with signs demanding $100 off. There is a difference between "Supply and Demand" and "Pricing Demand". And I think when people say Western Demand, it gets twisted into: "selfish consumers ignore slave labor and demand free iphones." When its really: "greedy corporations maximizing their profits by any means necessary."
I watched that Leslie Chang video. And she discovered that actually the Foxxconn workers are not as unhappy as the media is guilt-tripping us into thinking. The Foxxconn workers look at their job as a stepping stone into higher employment. Their working conditions are no different than America's back in the 20's. That's why we have Unions and Worker Rights because companies were mistreating their employees. Also, Leslie Chang said that the workers migrate to the factories. They aren't forced militarily, they are forced economically. I've seen other videos where there's a crowd of people standing outside Foxxconn wanting to get hired.
I think what the Leslie Chang video highlighted most was the difference in culture. These working conditions at Foxxconn look horrendous to us, but that's only because we went through Unions and Worker Rights. For Foxxconn and China to change their ways, it has to come from the people, foreign corporations can only do so much (or so little). Foxxconn employs 1.2 million people. Only a handful are going on strike. The others, as mentioned by Leslie Chang, are using Foxxconn as an opportunity to grow and learn new skills.
I am all for transparency. I don't think there is enough transparency. But what we have here is 21st Century America clashing with 19th Century America. Its going to take time for change and the only way that will happen is through education, and unfortunately these poor villagers have to use Foxxconn as their means towards a better life. China will come around. It will just take Worker Rights and Civil Rights to get there.
@gundam00 It's like I keep telling everyone: Video games are not art. They're products of corporate greed.
Wow, this really generated conversation!
It's hard for me to comment on the subject without coming off as a hypocrite (in my own view). I feel bad that our lifestyle has such a high price.
What I'd really like to see is complete transparency on how the price generates: Each step and all the factors which contribute to the cost of a product, including the profit that is gained by every level in the chain.
We have laws that say that all about a food product's ingredients must be told to the customer, so why couldn't there be a law like this?
Then each customer could decide for themselves if buying a product is worth it. Factors like this Chinese worker issue are almost completely invisible to customers like me, as it is.
EDIT: Sorry if I reiterated something that's already been said. I didn't have the time to read through the entire conversation.
I had a paper route when I was 12. Many people I know worked in their parents' businesses at younger ages. I'm not going to get all ruffled.
@Sean_Aaron You're right that a boycott without a given reason or complaint would probably have the opposite effect. We saw this with the initial and recent 3DS sales where a lackluster opening didn't remove the product from the market, Nintendo just sold it at an even bigger loss. That wasn't really a boycott or related to Foxconn, but it also didn't change the labor practices. I like the idea of voicing your opinion to Nintendo or whomever stands against your ethical beliefs (abe simpson quote should go here). Contrary to some of the posts, I don't think the average consumer wants their products made from workers suffering in deplorable conditions. I do think a boycott of the product and a letter campaign to both Nintendo and the Government entities charged with regulating so-called free trade among nations would make a considerable push in the right direction, whereas either alone may not. Having said that, I don't think a Nintendo boycott is coming. Not until they charge for DLC in most of their first-party games.
@gundam00 I agree with you that Foxconn probably made autonomous decisions regarding their employment practices. That doesn't mean that Nintendo didn't know about it until recently. Plus their response isn't exactly reassuring, but, like you pointed out, it's not surprising either. I also agree that consumers aren't responsible for the factory work conditions, and thus the product pricing, in a direct manner. Some would argue that US working conditions are below the standards of many European nations. Would we blame consumers in the UK for conditions in, I don't know, a US firearms factory? (does the US still export anything electronic? what about fighter jets?) There may be an electronics company testing focus groups and running consumer polls asking similar questions to the two asked in this talking point. Still, pricing is set to maximize profits, even if selling hardware initially at a loss to satisfy consumers and later to see profits in software sales; corporations are obligated by shareholders to turn a profit. This means cutting corners in quality of the product (not Nintendo's bag), money to CEOs (good luck), and/or employee working conditions/wages. Unfortunately, I don't think this model would change if we paid double or triple the price of a product, unless we made it clear that it's not okay to do this to workers, anywhere. And since business will sometimes continue as normal regardless of consumer opinion (remember EA was voted the worst company by gamers: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/04/04/ea-responds-to-worst-company-award-by-mentioning-past-winners/ ), we might need international regulation of these labor practices; unless the Chinese workers want it themselves, which is the real question if you believe in democracy.
Organized labor fought a lot of battles to obtain and keep current US and UK working conditions, and yeah, Chinese workers need to push for their labor rights to the best of their ability, hopefully through strikes and contracts and not immolation and roof jumping. That's their fight that we can support or not.
As somebody has already said, no one (except for some immature users) is supporting this. They just don't know what to do about it. Also, Nintendo is not using these kids, Foxconn is. I wouldn't say anybody commenting here is acting out of "blind love for Nintendo" either.
BTW I find it hard to believe that just "making a few copies" can earn one $600,000+.
This should let people think twice when they always complain how "expensive". This is the way of the world right now, but we need stop acting so spoiled. They can't sell the Wii U for $99 and games for $8.
I am not getting Wii U annyway (Thanks to my parents) But this isnt my problem. I realy enjoy 3DS and I am a happy 3DS Ambassador. I Dont like the way they treat the teens, but I am not one of em, I am here in one of the worlds riches countrys. As long as I get quality on my 3DS I am fine.
The most disturbing thing about this story are the posters that say "I worked when I was a kid, so I have no problem with this". Either they have reading comprehension problems or a serious lack of empathy.
I havent worked yet.
Is a little bit crazy that people think that 15 16 year old kids should'nt be working; how much work they do is the real issue. Jess! Im going to pay 7400 pesos for the goddamm thing (that's 550 dlls people)
You need to see further than the "first world" country problems, not everybody has the posibility to "just study" because im under age, grow up!
that is one of the many reasons that I hate nintendo...
@Ultranintendofanboy Then you should really be hating all electronic companies cause that's how the majority of major players work.
As someone aptly put it earlier on, China needs the time to adjust their worker rights and practices. As we can see from our own Western transition from the industrial age, it takes considerable time for change to occur. The only difference between now and then is the fact that the internet exists now so the media can actually blow it out of proportion easily.
Great article. I'm not surprised by the polls though. You're asking Nintendo fans if they would protest by not supporting their favourite company (when this is not a Nintendo exclusive issue). I think its clear people care about it, and want changes made. They expect their multi-national corporations to act ethically, but they rely on their products so won't stop buying them (especially if they think it won't make a difference). It seems like media attention is the best way to force a change.
The first question is so difficult to answer. I don't agree with the issues explained and of course I think this should not happen at all, but all the devices nowadays are made in China. If it's cheaper that way okay, but make sure nobody suffers in the process. The suicide fact is unacceptable. Although this world needs a real change because it seems that the only thing that matters is money, little steps are really important too. Again, mass media are the only way to give ethics back to this sick world. Silence is coward and selfish.
To be honest, nearly everything here can be said about any manufacturing company in the Far East. Look at the label in your clothes, where does it say it was made? Most likely China, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, and other countries like that. And most of those factories will have similar working conditions to Foxconn's, perhaps even worse. The working conditions of the majority of Asian factories are horrible, but it is simply where most stuff is made, thanks to today's economy. In a perfect world, this would stop for certain. But we are not in a wonderland filled with candy, rainbows and sunshine. In a world driven by money, this isn't going to stop any time soon, even if it is completely unethical and atrocious.
If these teenagers are being forced to work by their parents then that is on their parents' conscience. It's still mainly an issue of ugly global capitalism coupled with overpopulation. Politically we are simply not going to convince China to act differently. It won't happen. The only possible solution I see is for Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and Apple to truly take the lead with a global awareness campaign, move (or threaten to move to promote change) manufacturing to another country, raise prices, and be VERY VERY VOCAL about the whole process and why they have raised prices. Or, like somebody else mentioned, they could have product made in America and some made in China and price it accordingly and leave it on the consumer's conscience.
This is simply history repeating itself one way or another. There will always be a group who will be exploited to allow another group to reap the rewards. It has been happening since the ancient times. I'm not saying that it's right, it's just that humanity is hard-wired to do it.
I pity the people who work in the canteen.
It's amazing how many people are genuinely OK with children performing quasi-slave labor for the perceived benefit of cheaper costs. No problems as long as Western civilization does not expose their children to such practices.
A lot of us are seeing this from a Western point of view. What if this is their best bet in terms of employment? Third world countries have minimal social security, if any at all.
The fact that these factories exist means that the local government allows this. Even if Nintendo moves to another contractor, there is no assurance that this won't happen. If they don't outsource, then production will be too costly. Not to mention all the employee benefits that they have to worry about long term.
Outsourcing is a very profitable business model for companies. It gets the work done. Until something better comes along, and when I say better I mean more cost efficient, I don't think things will change.
And this is why I love those guys who complain about the Wii U being way to expensive...
Staying on topic, but somewhat excursionary -
I've seriously tried to picture a completely just and fair world where everyone has everything they need, and no one was discriminated in any way.
Conclusion: It's really hard! Even impossible!!
But, even to help a single person is important.
Yeah I dont care about underage kids working for cheaper pay. I'm one of those people who doesnt have a heart for others.
Why not have kits to assemble the system yourself? I realize that not everyone would want to do this, but then they can pay more if they're not into that sort of thing. Besides, lots of people pay to assemble model aeroplanes, and though this is more difficult than that activity, the purpose of said activity was to be difficult anyway, so this solution would be benifitial in nearly every aspectof this issue.
@Rerun "A lot of us are seeing this from a Western point of view. What if this is their best bet in terms of employment?" That's part of the problem and also part of the help. The workers do not come from a high-rise in downtown Shanghai who make 6-figure salaries. The Foxxconn labor force are poor villagers coming from illiterate families. In terms of where they're coming from, Foxxconn is their best bet for employment. That Leslie Chang video highlighted that. From a Western point of view, the working conditions look horrendous, however, most of the Foxxconn workers look at Foxxconn as a place for opportunity.
Also, another argument that Westerners are overlooking is that once labor wages get too high, Foxxconn will look to automate the assembly line and put thousands of people out of work, as they are currently doing. Those unemployed workers will have to return to their poor living conditions at home with no job. People still sourly bring up factory automation and it killing jobs in America. The same thing will happen in China.
What we're witnessing in China is an industrial revolution. And the Western media spins the Foxxconn labor force into being some aborigine tribe that we are discovering through a plexiglass wall like a zoo animal, who have no comprehension of what or why they're at Foxxconn and must be shepherded by Western civility. Yes, the working conditions need to be improved, but the cost will be jobs, and those Foxxconn workers who enjoy their jobs will struggle with unemployment.
Something the people talking about how they worked as a kid need to remember is most of these kids probably want to work. I worked as an intern at Safeway through my school for 2 hours a day and loved the experience, but theres a huge difference between a 2 hour part-time shift and working a 12+ hour full-time shift and then having to go to school afterwords.
I like the build your own kit idea since many people like to build their own PCs, as long as the software is pre-installed there shouldn't be any problems. I wouldn't want to build my own 3DS though since the screens are so fragile.
I know what you mean. I have an old friend who manages a contact center outside the US. Workers are paid roughly $12 a day for a nine hour day. You see really long lines and people trying to get these jobs. If they get in, it's a big deal. In third world countries, unemployment is huge. And with so many living below the poverty line, working in a factory is a blessing in comparison to going hungry.
@Wheels2050 I am a Nintendo Fan. Nothing is really going to stop that, as with most Nintendo Fans. So you're telling me that most Nintendo Fans shouldn't pick up a Wii U at launch?
The Fact of the Matter that some people don't understand here is that its against labor laws worldwide to employ Children in a fulltime setting and even over work them. A kid in the US can't even get a job delivering news papers anymore. This is serious and Aweful. Nintendo should be flat out embarrassed
This article series made me reconsider getting the Wii U at all. I didn't even think deeply about this sort of issue as belated as last year. I'll keep using my 3DS, but I won't buy a 3DS XL, even though it's overall a better product.
It pains me to do so, but it will hurt me a LOT less than it is hurting these folks. Until Nintendo returns to their high-quality manufacturing processes from before the DS and Wii era, when their systems starting being manufactured exclusively in China and none in Japan, I'm not buying their systems anymore. And I've had almost all of them since the NES!
Well, I still have plenty to do with the old systems and 3DS... and PC gaming and retro gaming is better than ever, now... And of course I'll still follow all the latest news pieces and NintendoLife coverage!
The argument that Foxconn provides stable employment is loaded. Fair trade would always prohibit this sort of activity, which is now laying bare the potential evils of unregulated capitalism.
The free market/free trade economic systems of the world need to be reformed into fair trade systems. "Free" trade mainly benefits the wealthy and powerful, not by design, but because the temptation is too powerful for the executives to resist. I doubt they're out to get people just for the sake of doing so. This situation is just the unfortunate side effect.
@Sun Mainstream mass media tends to ignore proposing any real positive change on these subjects. Their current conduct in the Americas recently has further proven their inability to be harbingers of justice. In fact, they're practically just as culpable for wrongdoing due to their purposeful dodging of important and urgent issues.
Independent organizations without puppet strings attached, like NintendoLife, are more likely candidates to seriously address these issues.
Yes I actually hate all of most of the maistream Console producers like Microsoft in the case of the xbox 360 I really hate tha em, I hate Sony cause of the PS3 i really love the ps2 though so yeah I hate em all they are all faggots that dont care about the devolopers LIKE NINTENDO it is the the wors in that case and I mean do u really think that guys wearing a black suit care a about gamers and devolopers? no they dont here is my evidence http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRrEakRSfSk&list=UUM8L3qN_W5MZz2y6ncQ5DOg&index=5&feature=plcp bobs game is a game made by Robert Pellonyhe worked alone in the game during 8 years only to have nintendo saying that it couldnt be published cause he didnt have a publisher so he got and actually he got lots of publishers only for nintendo to say what is in the video this is serious Im not an hater Nintendo neither had respect with pelony and neither bothered to play the friggin game He did everything he could to get it published in his favourite Company that hen always loved since when he was litle yet even going viral didnt work thats one of the many reasons I hate nintendo and the other major companies the games are expansive like there is no tomorrow and the consoles are pretty epancive now and Nintendo in this case in the 3DS launch it costed 250€ to for me to get one later to walk at a game store and see that it costed about180 and some gameboy and nes games aint going to ever satisfy me for that and now Nintendo even did the friggin 3DS XL in wich made me feel totally bad as a costumer they are a joke I Have more respect to sony or microsoft than nintendo above anything else!
So yeah this is some of my reasons to hate it all...
and by the way children working at a producing company aint that bad too if it is by their choice but I doubt that they are slves after all they have a reason to ahve worked at it all this time isnt it true?
I really dont understand all the hate. I really dont care if anything I support it because this only means the console will be cheaper.
I'd be willing to pay a higher price if it meant and end to Foxconn as a manufacturing partner. I'd like to see Foxconn out of business.
Um, it might be a little too late for this, but...
@Ultranintendofanboy: "Bob's Game" isn't real. It never was. It was just a big satire. A series of viral videos meant to screw with the viewers' mind. Just watch chapter 90 in their YouTube channel and you'll understand.
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