Reggie says Nintendo didn’t see a huge opportunity in online gaming

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“So I will answer the question from two perspectives. First, Nintendo’s business philosophy has always been to do things differently, to innovate in ways that play to the strength of the company rather than the strength of others. And so, for example, when it came to multiplayer, Nintendo was really good at what we internally called “couch play” – sitting next to someone playing Mario Kart, sitting next to someone playing a variety of different games like Wii Sports. That in-person multiplayer was really where the company excelled, and that’s where it focused tremendously.

In order to do online multiplayer, the company really needed to think about what the new type of game is, what are the different types of experiences that we’re going to have to create in order to excel in this form of game now. And frankly, it took the company a while to think about that, to come up with something that they thought would be fundamentally different and add value in a new way. I would say the main success of the company started with the takeover of Smash Bros. – a key franchise for them – putting this online, which has worked exceptionally well. It spawned a, not quite a first-person shooter – kind of a first-person, third-person experience – with a franchise called Splatoon, which did incredibly well in the marketplace. So that’s the first part of the answer – the company is still thinking about how it’s going to enter these markets in unique, different ways and play to its own strength.

The second thing I want to point out is – and this is where it comes into some of the cultural differences. Culturally, the company didn’t see a huge opportunity online. This was an area where the Americas and Europe were constantly trying to educate the company in Japan on the value of online gaming, investing in the online infrastructure that needed to be in place to make the experience a positive one. You’re absolutely right that of the top three hardware competitors in the gaming space, that’s where Microsoft invested so heavily, and that’s become their competitive advantage – it still is today I would say in terms of connected gameplay. This was an area constantly called upon by Western parts of the business to encourage development and investment in infrastructure, and I’m sure that conversation continues today.

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