Nintendo Labo focus-testing results were so harsh that it made a Nintendo dev cry

As we shared earlier, Nintendo posted up an internal interview about Nintendo Labo. The interview features Mr. Sakaguchi, Nintendo Labo Director, Mr. Kawamoto, Nintendo Switch Director / Nintendo Labo Producer and Mr. Ogasawara, Nintendo Labo Hardware Lead. In the snippet below, we get to learn about just how tough the focus-testing of Nintendo Labo was.

Mr. Sakaguchi: I figured that building and repairing these things would be flexible and easy because we were dealing with engineered cardboard sheets. But once we decided that we wanted to design the Toy-Con creations so that you wouldn’t need any scissors or glue to assemble them, the project suddenly became very difficult.

We thought it would be disappointing if you bought a product and then realized you didn’t have everything you needed to complete it. I mean, of course that would be disappointing. We decided we couldn’t let that happen.

Mr. Ogasawara: We decided on this very early in the process, because if tools were necessary we’d have to include them in the kits—but the more we thought about it the more we realized that we wanted to design the product so that you wouldn’t need any tools at all.

Mr. Sakaguchi: The idea that tools shouldn’t be necessary is what caused the design to take shape. Once we had preliminary designs to work with we did some consumer testing in the U.S. and in Tokyo. The tests didn’t go over very well, though. It was...it was rough. I was so upset I went back to the hotel room and cried a little. I’m serious! I was so sad! (Laughs.)

Interviewer: Ogasawara-san, you were tasked with the design of the cardboard sheets at the time, weren’t you? What did you make of this feedback? I’m assuming you had never worked on cardboard design projects like this before.

Mr. Ogasawara: Well, we had experience designing product packaging using cardboard, but this was the first time I’d ever tried to make a cardboard design that was easy to assemble for the consumer. Despite this, I continued working on the designs and—well, the consumer test was a real shock! (Laughs.)

Sakaguchi-san said it made him cry, but to tell you the truth things were rough over in hardware development too.

It was surprising because it wasn’t like we hadn’t put a lot of thought into the design at that point. We were always calling over co-workers unfamiliar with the project and seeing how well they could make the Toy-Con projects we designed, and those experiments had always gone well. So basically, consumer tests on adults had all been good up until that point. Going into the test I’d been thinking that 70% or 80% of the kids would do well. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. It was a real disaster.

Mr. Sakaguchi: At first the concept was built completely around the message, which was that these are toys made of cardboard. So the original designs looked less like the objects they were modeled after, and looked more like, well, cardboard. I remember talking about the piano once, and we considered making the lid portion look more like the curves of a grand piano. At the time, we thought that customers could make the toys look like whatever they wanted, so we’d leave as many design elements up to them as possible.

Tags: eshop, switch


Top Rated Comment

Kids can be very harsh critics. Either something is the best thing ever made or the worst piece of crap to grace the Earth to them.
On that regard they're no different than internet commentators.

Fri Apr 06 18 05:16pm
Rating: 2 (Updated 1 time)

No surprise, this is the same dude that didnt put voice chat in Splatoon, even at a friend-level, because he cant handle it emotionally

Fri Apr 06 18 10:35pm
Rating: 1

There is the difference between those two though.

Is he actually? Because that would actually explain a thing or two

It was actually the other director of Splatoon who said that, but Sakaguchi backed him up so disappointment is shared.

Fri Apr 06 18 05:42pm
Rating: 2

Just read the whole interview. God, I've missed this.

Iwata would be proud.

Kids can be very harsh critics. Either something is the best thing ever made or the worst piece of crap to grace the Earth to them.
On that regard they're no different than internet commentators.

How I see it, based on his later comments, is that the shapes were too vagues and customizable, enough that the kid probably didn't understand what they were supposed to do. The shapes were probably too abstract.

Labo isn't for me at all and I still think it's stupid. Yes just because something isn't aimed at you doesn't mean it can't be stupid. But anyway THAT being said, I hope this succeeds simply for the fact that it helps fund future Switch endeavors maybe even hire extra employees to get these games out a little faster (first half of this year has been pretty rough if you owned a Wii U or any other console ever). Also please don't shoehorn Labo into Nintendo franchises please. I don't want Nintendo to go "Here's a new Luigi's Mansion but you can only buy it in the Poltergust Labo kit!"

Yeah I feel the same way about Labo. It’s dumb. Sometimes I’m just a big Scrooge - but at the same time Scrooge was kind of a cool guy. He had money and got to hang out with time traveling ghosts. ;)

Mon Apr 09 18 12:11pm
Rating: 1

I haven't really heard a good reason why it's dumb other than "it's not something I would like".

But I am asking around to get a good answer for why it's dumb. Still haven't gotten one so I'd like to hear why.

Mon Apr 09 18 03:51pm
(Updated 2 times)

1. Because the games are gonna end up being glorified tech demos.

2. Because it's from the team that made 1-2 Switch a "game" that's barely even a game.

3. I GUARANTEE you, you don't need the overpriced cardboard to enjoy those games. You could easily just shake the joycons by themselves and do the same thing in game. The cardboard isn't a controller it's a holster for the controller. It's not like the balance board where you NEEDED it to play Wii Fit it's basically a $70 Wii Zapper.

4. It's cardboard, it's very liable to break easily on you. A kid leaves it on the floor one time and someone walks in and doesn't see it it's doneso. So all the time and effort you put putting this thing together is wasted. Well guess it's time to rebuild it all over again Timmy..after I rebuy a replacement kit from Nintendo...and I bet the kid wouldn't want to take the time and effort to rebuild it.

5. It's coming out a time where kids (well at least from the kids I know through family and friends) aren't even interested in arts and crafts. They rather be on their phones or playing Fortnite/Minecraft or something. If this product came out in 1989 this would be the shit! But it's 2018..kids nowadays don't even enjoy playing with toys that much anymore (once again from what I gathered) hence one of the reasons why ToysRus is going under...

Thu Apr 12 18 02:02am
Rating: 1 (Updated 1 time)

1 & 2. I saw in-depth of how all the games work and I can assure you they have a lot more going for them than 1-2 Switch.

2. The cardboard is absolutely needs for most of the games as slight movements and rotations that humans could not naturally emulate are required. As well as the infrared sensor that detects the movements of the cardboard around the controller. The only game that does not need the cardboard is the Excitebike game where you can easily just waggle the joy con.

4. You're right. The cardboard does break. I think if Nintendo was wise they would provide cheap replacement cardboard. As for building it again, I'd argue that building the stuff is half of the reason you get the game. Not to mention the customization with coloring.

5. My little cousins loves arts and crafts. But maybe you are right? I don't know the statistics. But who knows. The fact that there is a video game attatched to arts and crafts might make it more enticing to them?

Either way your last two points do bring up that it's not perfect. But after some research I found that they really did put a lot of effort into this. Especially compared to 1-2 Switch.

I just want more innovations from this team. Turns out the Labo team is the same team behind Miitopia and 1-2-Switch, seems like they're the ones focusing on the different usages of Switch + Joy-Con. Hope we get some more interesting usages from them!

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