When Satoru Iwata sadly passed away on 11th July 2015, it was clear that the 'NX' - as it was then called - would be a representation of his vision; it had been announced earlier that year, undoubtedly with the core design and principles in place.
It's known now as the Switch, of course, and it's just a couple of weeks away from release. TIME has published an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto talking about some of his ideas and the ethos that drives the company, among other topics. Asked about the role of Satoru Iwata in the development of the Switch, Miyamoto-san highlighted how the former President led the core concept.
I mentioned that Mr. Iwata, Mr. Takeda and myself provided feedback and made decisions, but ultimately Mr. Iwata was the head of development, so he put a lot of thought and time into Switch. I think that the idea of Nintendo Switch being a device you can take out and anywhere, and the idea of it being a system that really allows networking and communicating with people, I think that's something Mr. Iwata put a lot of emphasis on.
Because Mr. Iwata was tech-savvy, a lot of our discussion involved trying to figure out how to make the technical things like network capabilities or servers or whatever fun. For example, think about when we added the ability to use a browser on the DS [Nintendo's two-screen gaming handheld—the browser was added to North American systems in 2007]. As time goes on, all of these services become more and more advanced, and so we need to think about "How do we incorporate mobile devices or new browser features that come up?" That's something Mr. Iwata and I discussed a lot, really trying to decide what to do and what not to do in our hardware.
Miyamoto-san was also asked about Nintendo's drive for creativity, citing Hiroshi Yamauchi's well-known remarks around avoiding staleness. Miyamoto-san makes some interesting points about the company's philosophy - it's not a company that 'fights', but feels it can always be number one in delivering fun.
Mr. Yamauchi had a kind of a personal philosophy, which was that he didn't hold a personal philosophy. What's really interesting is that, even though this was how he lived, he left several lasting nuggets of philosophy to the company. One of them was like, because we were profitable by providing fun experiences, that we should only use money to create fun. What this means is that what we as business owners look forward to is not increasing our company, but expanding our work.
So because Mr. Yamauchi had that philosophy and he said that consistently, it made work a lot easier for us. We didn't have to think about all the other things. All we had to think about was, really, providing fun. There's also the idea of having this original thought, a unique thought, which means not doing the same thing as other people. This is something obvious in the world: If you're trying to do the same thing as everyone else, you get further and further from the top.
If you want to be in second place or third place, you can do what other people are doing. I mean, you'll have to put a lot of effort and work into it. If you're doing something on your own, something unique, when the spotlight hits, you're already at the top before you know it. So that's why I feel like, in the world of fun, there's only number one. And that's why I think you've got to take risks to become number one. If you want to be number one by doing the same thing as other people, you've got to be kind of tough.
And because we're not tough, we can't fight with other people. [Miyamoto holds up his fists and laughs.] I think this really coincides and equates to what the entertainment industry is like, anything with the creative industry, and it links to terms like blue ocean or red ocean. This is something that Mr. Iwata did, to really link the philosophy of Nintendo to some of the business and corporate jargon, while also being able to convey that to all of the employees at Nintendo.
The final section we want to pick out is a little quirkier - it transpires that in his spare time Shigeru Miyamoto has been working on a hammock for his cat.
When I'm told that maybe I don't need to go to work for a few days, I worry that I don't have things to do, so I try to make sure there are things in my personal life that I can really work on too. So my garden looks really good now. I've been spending months just hoeing. [Laughs] And I made a cat hammock. I took a stool and then kind of pulled it apart and put it together so it's like a hammock for a cat.
Even when I place him in it he runs away. It's not quite there yet.
It's certainly worth checking out the full interview at the link below, as Miyamoto-san talks a little more about the Switch, VR and AI.
With the Switch now so close, it'll be interesting to see how it develops and represents those Nintendo philosophies of fun and creativity.
With thanks to SLIGEACH_EIRE for the heads up.
Good read! Thanks!
I do honestly think Nintendo wants to create fun, they've just been shooting themselves in the foot while doing it lately. (Also, ironic that they talk about the DS' mobile browser when the Switch doesn't have one...)
And RIP, Iwata-san.
"When I'm told that maybe I don't need to go to work for a few days, I worry that I don't have things to do, so I try to make sure there are things in my personal life that I can really work on too. So my garden looks really good now. I've been spending months just hoeing. [Laughs] And I made a cat hammock. I took a stool and then kind of pulled it apart and put it together so it's like a hammock for a cat.
Even when I place him in it he runs away. It's not quite there yet."
Whatever keeps him away from making another Star Fox Zero. It is funny though to picture him making cat hammocks. Could be worse, he could be making banana hammocks.
Miyamoto tells us about his garden-we get Pikmin.
He tells us of his banjo playing- we get Wii Music.
Making hammocks for cats... answers on a postcard.
RIP, Mr. Iwata
Dear, Mr. Satoru Iwata from heaven. Please watch over Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto and bless him with wonderful ideas for next Nintendo Switch games. Thank you.
@MrGawain Thats what I like about Nintendo and where I get my design philosophy. What have I done lately that could be a game?
Somethi g as mundane as gardening became Pikmin. Exploring as a child became Zelda.
Ive got a game in the works based on the fact I looked at an internet browser. This is how some of the best ideas in the world arise.
Still dont know who wanted to try cows milk thiugh...
Wow, this provides quite an insight. Thanks for sharing, @ThomasBW84, @SLIGEACH_EIRE
Regarding the cat hammock, just give him the box the stool came in and it'll be fine, Miyamoto san.
Miyamoto never ceases to impress with his ideas.... A cat hammock? Now I need a picture!
Honestly, those small things have lead to great ideas, so I can forgive stuff like SFZ. What if the cat hammock leads to the next Pikmin?
I like "profitable by providing fun experiences".
Someone said to me recently that the world would be a much better place if companies aimed to be profitable rather than companies aiming for maximum profit.
There was no fun to be had with the constant wii u droughts but having said that they do make excellent fun games
Good article, I do miss Iwata and his Nintendo Directs it would have been awesome if he could have lived to see Switch release as much as I scratch my head at Nintendo's decisions the Switch is a step in the right direction I think and it is hands down the coolest looking console ever from Nintendo in my opinion.
Well, no matter how you crunch it - he's right. Do the the same thing as everyone else, and you will end up second and third.
Xbone does what the PS4 does but to a lesser extent - it's second because of that. And when Xbone Scorpio comes out, PS4 Pro will be second. Why do people want Nintendo to jump into that when we all know how that'd go anyway?
@MrGawain He's making a cat hammock.. so maybe a survival/crafting game like Minecraft? Except on a deserted island and with Animal Crossing characters?
Number 1 in creating fun! Is bang on!
Lol Miyamoto is such a crazy character
@SLIGEACH_EIRE Balancing a cat on a hammock will be the fundation on the next Starfox game.
I wonder if they changed anything about Iwata's vision for Switch.
Quirky indeed. That's why I relate to the company so much. I'm gonna need that cat hammock too.
I see a cat in a hammock put into one of his games later on...Pikmin will casually walk past, and that image will be in the background! This is good on his part though!
I really wonder what kind of legacy Tatsumi Kimishima will leave when he eventually steps down. Both Hiroshi Yamuchi and Satoru Iwata will be held in high regard for a very long time.
I'd play a game about making cats comfortable.
Oh wait, that's already out on iOS/Android and it's a huge success.
I'm glad that they are keeping Iwata-san's idea of the Switch alive and not just altered it with their own.
"I've been spending months just hoeing" - Miyamoto
Wasn't his legacy technically the Wii U?
Good article. The book Blue Ocean is well worth a read. It spawned the Wii's success. It's a business book but entertaining thought provoking and useful no matter what your passion is:
I think the vulnerability of having a full feature browser just isn't worth it for them. I liked being able to search for hints in-system, but the novelty wore off and my phone was way faster. More bummed about a lack of streaming apps (Netflix, Hulu, etc.), but I don't know who that's on. The screen and form factor are perfect for it.
Not sure how far along the final NX/Switch was before he passed, but the core design, philosophy, DenA and Nvidia deals, unified development pipeline, etc. were all on his watch.
What is this pen he's talking about?
@SLIGEACH_EIRE Someone should photoshop that...a tiny Miyamoto in a banana hammock that's being held by Iwata Nintendo Direct style.
@Spiders Well the Wii U didn't have those kinds of streaming services at launch. Neither did the Wii. I wouldn't be surprised if it just isn't there at launch but comes later.
@Spiders I agree; the web browser isn't a big deal for me, but streaming apps would be a great boon to the system.
They didn't? Didn't take the plunge 'til Bayo 2. I feel like they announced it pretty early on though, but I could be wrong.
I wish we had this quote during the Great Switch Reveal Comment Wars. Everyone from shareholders and pundits knows what's best for thier bottom line, yet has ANYONE remained relevent in this is industry as long?
"...we were profitable by providing fun experiences, that we should only use money to create fun. What this means is that what we as business owners look forward to is not increasing our company, but expanding our work."
Miyamoto might be the only person in the world that can say something like "I made a hammock for my cat" and it doesn't sound weird even slightly
It's not new or surprising that Switch is Iwata's console mainly, but it's nice to hear again anyway. Not that it doesn't seem obvious anyway. Hopefully it's a thought process they'll build on for a long time to come. I wasn't always a great business planner, but he had an instinct for how a device should come together that few have.
@LegendOfPokemon Can you expand on that? I don't really get what you mean by shooting themselves in the foot, or how.
This guy is a treasure.
@dizzy_boy I feel like Kimishima's legacy will be letting the newer generation take over inside Nintendo. We saw a lot of 'new' people during the Switch presentation, and BotW and SM Odyssey look to be taking things in new directions.
I think it also shows that the NX may have been the plan as soon as Wii, and Wii U was some cobbled together ideas from that before they had they tectechnology, infrastructure, and determination to execute.
@TheWhiteFalcon I agree, and if Switch and Mobile is a success, I expect the next head to also be a no nonsense type and let the Iwata-san types stay in the nuthouse.
@Spiders First of all are the stock issues with items like the Nes Classic, Black Friday 3DS, and the Nintendo Switch. Next up is promoting the 3DS along with the Switch, as having a handheld platform already available eliminates the Switch's "all-in-one" selling point. And don't forget the cease and desists on FREE fan games, along with the company's YouTube policy! Finally, Nintendo has been somewhat hesitant with revealing information about its services; the Nintendo Switch comes out in 2 and half weeks, and we still don't know anything about the Nintendo eShop and its mobile app.
"If you want to be in second place or third place, you can do what other people are doing." -Miyamoto
well, no wonder Wii U sold more than the PS4 and Xbox One combined!
There's two ways to interpret that. The WiiU was their closest take on what Sony and MS were doing and it was 3rd. 3DS was quite different and was 1st
@Spiders Yep, that's exactly my take on it as well. I'd even posted a long winded (queue shock and amazement ) comment about that a week or two ago!
" I agree, and if Switch and Mobile is a success, I expect the next head to also be a no nonsense type and let the Iwata-san types stay in the nuthouse."
Err, but mobile and the Switch (and the merging of departments for Switch) were all Iwata... Kimishima just executed the finishing phases of the works already long in motion. If Switch and moble are successful, the bigger worry at Nintendo would be an Apple like crisis "How do we come up with the winning ideas without him?"
And Yamauchi, for all his early success created the missteps of the N64 and GCN eras and led to the disastrous burnings of bridges that created the hostile 3rd party scene.
I'm not sure you can separate the visionary Iwata types and the hard-nosed business types here. Both have their great successes and their giant failures.
Watching the presentation, when they pointed out that the NS was an evolution and amalgamation of previous Nintendo consoles and ideas and all I could think is that succeed or fail, this system is such a wonderful and very obvious magnum opus of Iwata-denka. It is kind of an odd feeling though because I personally felt and still feel that the WiiU was ahead of its time but I feel like the switch "gets it" for lack of a more accurate way to describe how I feel. How it is novel enough to have the potential to change gaming but is still appealing enough that it doesn't leave the average customer that just wants to play games behind. I think that was one failing of the wiiu...too many of the average customer couldn't intuitively understand the product. And if you don't have customer understanding, it doesn't matter how great the product is. All in all I am very excited for the NS and very grateful for the work that Iwata-denka put into it and Nintendo up until his last breath. Truly a man that found his purpose in life.
I like that part about "1st" and being "tough". That pretty much confirms that Nintendo doesn't have the philosophy of Microsoft/Sony in fighting for first, but to instead be first in what you do and believe... make your own playing field. And it comes with risks (High Point: Wii, Low Point: Wii U) but thankfully Nintendo takes these risks to do their part in helping the games industry as a whole move forward. If the Switch is a runaway success, you can believe that Sony and Microsoft's next systems will be incorporating and/or trying to 1-up the "home console on the go" idea. That's why this industry "needs" Nintendo. Sure, we get mad at them for NOT doing some of the more successful things that Sony and Microsoft do right, but if the end result is that they do things really right in their own way that Sony and Microsoft "don't" do, then the true winner is us gamers. As long as they tighten up their business practices and keep stepping into the 21st century, then honestly, I personally have no qualms with Nintendo. Thank you Iwata for your services
What I love about Miyamoto is that he actively works to project this attitude of childlike playfulness and fun in everything he does, yet when you read these types of interviews, it becomes clear that the man is extremely smart on a lot of different levels and really has a much deeper understanding of his industry than people give him credit for.
Geez, isn't there a 10% rule or something for how much you can copy under Fair Use? TIME should get half of your ad revenue for this article...
Nintendogs+Cats Sequel confirmed.
I'd like to see the cat hammock.
Awesome article. Made me smile
"For example, think about when we added the ability to use a browser on the DS. As time goes on, all of these services become more and more advanced, and so we need to think about 'How do we incorporate mobile devices or new browser features that come up?'"
And then someone decided to release the Switch without a browser and apps?
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