Miyamoto talks game development, teases new characters, still not retiring and much more

Miyamoto on not playing games if he didn't make them...

"It could be that … I might not be playing games."

Miyamoto on a typical day...

"My days all follow much the same pattern. They are structured and typical. Roughly half of my time I spend checking new games that Nintendo's directors are working on. I sit at my desk, play their games and create checklists of comments and amends that I then send out to the directors. Then, the rest of my time is spent attending various meetings, talking about management decisions for the general business direction of Nintendo."

Miyamoto on having more free time...

"...the decreased workload allows me to do new projects like the audio guide. But I am still very close to the game development. Although I am not a director myself I do check all of our games and discuss them over email. I visit Nintendo's Tokyo EAD team every few weeks too, so I don't really feel detached from the game side of the business."

Miyamoto on not retiring, but giving new people chances to create...

"There have been numerous media reports that I am about to retire and I very much want to emphasise that this is not the case. I believe that if I remain in the same position as a leader of the development teams within Nintendo, then the entire structure will grow or revolve around me,. I've certainly seen there are other people within EAD that have the potential to be leaders. I wanted to give these people a chance to lead their respective teams. When I said in the press that I would step back a little I was just saying I want to support the company from the side, rather than being front and centre all of the time."

Miyamoto on Nintendo hiring artists and programmers, not designers...

"We don't usually hire game designers. We almost exclusively hire artists or programmers; people who have learnt a technique and have a basis that we start with. Recently we have hired a few game designers, but generally they have already had careers in other companies and then joined us. But we hire a lot of people out of university. They bring basic knowledge and we start from there. Obviously people from artist or programmer backgrounds have to work together soon enough. So I think there are two key characteristics: a positive attitude towards new things, and someone who doesn't easily give up in the face of problems or criticism. That's what I look for in a new hire."

Miyamoto on the 3DS launch, what he would change and 3D tech in general...

"Especially for the first six months following the system's release, sales were weaker than the DS. This was mainly due to the fact we didn't have any big first party titles, I believe. Also the price point was too high.

In fairness to us, we realised that, reduced the price and worked very hard to have a strong lineup for the Christmas season, which we offered with Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 and Kid Icarus.

Looking at the situation in Japan today, the console is selling very well. We have now sold 5m consoles there, which is respectable for a console in its first year. The challenge now is to continue to put effort into making the 3DS more widely known. The Louvre guide is another way of doing that.

If I could rewind the clock I would change the lineup for the 3DS launch so it had more Mario titles. Not only that, but we also have some excellent features that appeal to non-gamers: 3D photography, the augmented reality features and other preinstalled apps. We tried hard to communicate these, but we failed. If I could go back I would have communicated these things differently, and spent more time working out that message.

3D is really the most normal thing because it's how those of us with two eyes usually see the world. TVs are the unusual things in 2D! We don't look at stereoscopic as a gimmick. It's rather the most normal way to display things."

Miyamoto on reaching out to new gamers and opening development tools for more to use...

"There are big lines between those who play video games and those who do not. For those who don't, video games are irrelevant. They think all video games must be too difficult. We want to remove that barrier.

Obviously that would mean making development tools more easily available. Maybe we should look into it but any tools we offer would need to be supported. From my perspective, we want to reach out to smaller studios and work on smaller projects while supporting them as an easier and faster way to get smaller studios involved. That would be the best way to go.

Obviously a lot of the potential of handheld game systems can now be covered by smartphones. When we think about new hardware we need to think about what things we can add that you can't currently do with a smartphone. For us, we would need to have a good reason to launch a new hardware – something necessary."

Miyamoto on keeping franchises alive, teases new characters, and surprising people...

"We need to continue releasing new games in existing franchises otherwise those franchises might die. That's not to say that we aren't interested in new games. It's just a case of picking a new game idea. When we have the opportunity we want to create new things in the future, certainly.

I don't have a big list of ideas I want to realise. I usually come up with new ideas while I am working on other games. That said, there's a strong possibility we will introduce some new characters to the scene soon.

The key thing is surprising people. Video game development is actually a very easy tool to use to surprise people and to offer new, unexpected things to players. It can actually be done quite easily. It doesn't take a lot to do this. There are exceptions but games can be created quite easily. I love that.

In the past it was just, you touch a button and something happens on screen and this was surprising enough to people! Like magic. Nowadays we have experienced players and players with no experience and we must accommodate the needs of both groups. It's becoming increasingly difficult. "

Miyamoto on his favorite creation, perfecting franchises, and having less input on the Zelda series...

"Looking back, Donkey Kong is close to me because it was the first game I made where I realised I could actually make a living from this. Then the title that made games known worldwide was Super Mario Bros. so that's incredibly important to me. But this is a very generic answer and maybe doesn't help you too much. Actually, a big innovation was Wii Sports. With this game we kicked off an adventure into something new. I want to be able to do this bold step many times in my life.

It's an excellent point because my desire is always to attempt to perfect my games. I think the Zelda series… I am not so deeply involved any more compared to the past, but Skyward Sword is a very complete and exceptionally well-polished title."

On not having time to play games...

"I think it's the lack of time in general. And maybe I don't see so many titles that I find fascinating enough that I want to spend time playing. Time is precious and a game has to be worthwhile, right? Another problem is that there are so many games on the market today that it's difficult to find the right one. In many ways I think I am in a similar place to the average game player. This is one of the greatest challenges for the industry right now."

Miyamoto on the future of the game industry...

"I am not that concerned, actually. Nintendo and I have always hoped that games would someday become a more accepted part of our daily life. Every month this becomes closer to the reality we live in. Games have grown and developed from this limited in-the-box experience to something that's everywhere now. Interactive content is all around us, networked, ready. This is something I've been hoping for throughout my career. With this success comes a new challenge of course: how do we make our titles relevant in this world of games. How do we keep going when everything has changed? It's a huge challenge. But it's a good one. It's what we always wanted."



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