Interview:CVG May 25th 2002

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CVG May 25th 2002


May 25, 2002





Miyamoto talks about Nintendo's E3 showing and specifically touches on differentiating Zelda from other fantasy role-playing titles.

Q: Microsoft and Sony have chosen to incorporate features other than games into their hardware, such as DVD playback. Do you see a future where Nintendo will do the same?
Miyamoto: Nintendo is an entertainment company, and as entertainment we focus on the hardware. So, in the future it may be that Nintendo does something that may have a wider use for the family, but that's not something we're actually planning for. We really see games as being the entertainment format we're using to entertain people and the family. That's our goal; just to focus on that.
Q: You focused quite heavily on Zelda and Mario in the press conference yesterday. How important do you consider Pokémon to be to Nintendo's overall strategy?
Miyamoto: Actually, we just have a slightly different PR schedule for the Pokémon games we have coming out in the next year. Because of that reason I didn't talk about them in the press conference yesterday. Pokémon is very important to Nintendo, and I'm sure you noticed that Peter [McDougal] did mention that we'd be releasing the next Pokémon game in Japan this fall. Once we get back on the schedule of the Pokémon PR press releases we'll be moving along in that direction and doing a lot of promotion.

As you can see we have a number of different products on the showfloor today, from Stage Debut to the E-Reader and the E-Reader Cards, as well as the LCD screen. So, there are a number of products that we were only able to touch on in the demo. But yes, Pokémon is very important [laughs].
Q: After the demo yesterday of Zelda, we think no one will be complaining about the direction you've taken, but it's interesting to see how Mario and the Zelda series have clearly gone in different routes. When games became 3D, all characters could run around in a 3D world, all characters could jump and climb: was part of the reason Zelda became very much a cartoon style to help differentiate the Zelda series from Mario?
Miyamoto: Actually, I didn't intentionally set out to try and define those two series and take them in different directions. Really, with Mario and Zelda, we have Mario being a game that people enjoy just playing and enjoy the controller, and Zelda being the type of game where people enjoy an adventure. Because of those inner differences in the games, that's why they're going down those different paths, more than us trying to draw the distinction between the two. Really, as far as the cel-shading with Zelda goes, it wasn't so much, again, to draw a distinction against Mario, as it was to define Zelda as a unique title within the wider world of fantasy role-playing games.

The other thing that we focus on, with games like Metroid Prime, Super Mario Sunshine and The Legend of Zelda, all on the Nintendo GameCube, is a control style that is really comfortable for the player and is really consistent across all those different genres of games.
Q: It's been necessary with GameCube to bring older gamers into the fold, with titles such as Resident Evil and the like. You've always claimed that games are for children, and grown up children if you like, and that violence should be maybe steered away from in videogames. Are you saddened about bringing this type of game onto Nintendo hardware, or do you see it as a plus to sell more units?
Miyamoto: I don't deny that there's a role for violence in games; violence is a form of expression, and expression is what games are all about. What I'm really opposed to is the idea of everyone running towards violence as the only means of expression, to the point where the only way to surprise the user is to escalate the level of violence, and have that be the only element of the game with any appeal. I think that's when violence becomes an issue.

As far as the [violent] games we have on the Nintendo GameCube, I really just think it's appealing to a wider audience. With the N64, and the difficulties we had with that system, it was difficult to provide a line-up that attracted a wider user base. With GameCube being a much easier system to develop for, and us having a broader range of third-party support, I think it's just natural that you're going to see games ranged at a wider audience than we saw for the N64. But still I think that while violence is something that can be used in games, it's the extreme and over the top violence I find troublesome.
Q: Microsoft seems to be convinced that the only way to take games forward is to take games online. Sony seems to think that the only way to take games forward is to make them more like movies. How will Nintendo take games forward?
Miyamoto: [Laughs] Maybe they are unable to say, "We can make games more fun and interesting without going online". We are definitely confident that we can make games more fun, interesting and innovative without having to go in that direction. We're really looking to getting to a wider audience, and giving games a much broader, mass-market appeal. We're comfortable and confident that we can do this without having to rely on methods like that.

The best example we have of what I really mean about taking games to a wider audience is Animal Crossing. That's the type of game, where if a hardcore gamer was to pick it up and evaluate it, it probably wouldn't get a very high rating. Things that a hardcore gamer looks at are game balance, game difficulty, the number of bosses, the number of levels and the AI. This game has none of those things. But when you sit down and play that game, it's fun. It's easy and it's fun and it's going to appeal to a very wide audience, and I think that this is almost a new kind of pillar in gaming for us. We're taking this game, which is completely different from anything we've seen before, and we think will appeal to a much wider audience.
Q: Will Nintendo continue to create this sort of game, which is essentially stepping away from the norm, and continue to innovate? Do you hope that Nintendo keeps doing that in a first-party sense?
Miyamoto: Yes. Actually, one of the reasons we're licensing out many of our franchises to second- and third-party developers is so we can continue to support those franchises while we internally focus on coming up with new ideas and innovating.
Q: Do you want to share any of the new ideas and new products you have in development?

[Everyone laughs]

Miyamoto: Look forward to E3 next year.
Q: So, would you say in summary that Nintendo will continue to look forward to what people like doing and how people have fun rather than focussing on technology?
Miyamoto: Obviously we do focus on hardware, because hardware gives us the environment to be creative and to be innovative, and we need an environment that allows us to do that with a great deal of ease. Because of that we're focussed on hardware, but I really don't think that just because you have a technologically advanced piece of hardware it's going to sell a lot of units. You need innovation in the games to do that.

So, when you get into companies trying to sell hardware based on technological abilities, you get into this console war that we're in now. When you get into this kind of situation, price drops are a lot harder on the companies that have drawn in things like DVD playback and hard discs into their hardware. When you think of things in that respect, really GameCube is best positioned.
Q: Mario is more than 20 years old now. How do you feel to be in this position after so long a period?
Miyamoto: I feel as though I've been very, very lucky, not only to get the kind of reactions from the users that we've got, but also to have the really strong teams of people I've worked with consistently over the past 20 years. We all get along really well and we work really well together. I really feel that a lot of things have come together for me and I truly feel as though I'm a very lucky person.