Japanese publication Asahi has posted an interview with Nintendo president, Tatsumi Kimishima that discusses everything from the elusive NX to Nintendo’s plans for the silver screen.
The interview, which you can read translated below, is extremely interesting, and talks about everything you expect – like the NX and mobile – to surprises like Nintendo’s foray into the world of film and television.
The NX points will hopefully bring relief to the rumors of late that have plagued the system in a negative light before it’s even revealed.
Check out the full interview below and let us know your own thoughts in the comments section.
You’re currently working to invest your IP in new fields. In April Nintendo sold its stake in the Seattle Mariners; are you putting the income from that to use?
We aren’t looking to make money simply by directly licensing our characters, but we must invest heavily in new areas such as film production going forward. When we’ve finalized that sale, we’d like to use part of the proceeds in these areas.
By film production, you mean movies?
The most common meaning is films, but there’s a variety of opportunities such as video content. We’re currently talking with a number of partners, and I think we’ll be able to finalize something in the not-too-distant future.
In the past, there was a live-action Super Mario Brothers movie, correct?
That live-action film didn’t do particularly well at the box office. From now on we’d like to do things ourselves more than just license something.
Are you partnering with Hollywood companies?
That could be an option. That’s not to say it absolutely must be Hollywood; we’ll be able to discuss more once things are finalized. However, we’d like to work together with partners who can be successful on a global scale.
Does that mean another live-action film?
We’ve already tried that, so perhaps not this time.
Is the intent to be like (3D animation companies) Disney and Pixar?
We have a strong stable of IP, so we’d like to be able to do something like them. So we’ll keep that in mind as we work towards making this a reality.
Will you be announcing any production in 2016?
While I can’t say a particular year, we are in specific talks at the moment. Of course we’d like to make use of any income from this year, but I can’t say we’re pushing it to something five years out. I’d like to make something happen before that.
Would it be movies for Zelda or Mario?
We’d like to use IPs that are really quite popular. But I can’t exactly say “we’re doing Mario!” All I can say is that we’ll make something everyone can enjoy.
Well, if we’re talking movies, it seems like the Zelda series would be a good fit, considering how popular it is overseas.
Put that way, of course we understand that it’s something there’s a strong demand for.
So you feel there’s many people who want a Zelda movie?
Do you believe these films will be profitable for the company?
Our primary goal is to increase the number of people who know our IPs. Our core business is to create games and hardware, but the question becomes how to make that business more effective. And of course simple advertisment is no good. So we’d like to create other businesses that can support that goal.
In the past, have there been movies created by Nintendo?
Our partner companies have created films such as the Pokemon movies, so it’s not an area we’re entirely unfamiliar with.
Pokemon’s a franchise that involves games, movies, toys, all sorts of things. Would the same sort of expansion be possible for other Nintendo characters?
It’s true that Pokemon has become a great success, and we have learned a lot from it, but the question for us is always “should this be the case for our IPs”? We came to the conclusion that these things must be in order to guide consumers to our core business, but that we’d like to actively move forward.
Is Mr. Miyamoto involved in these new businesses?
Of course. He’s taught many other game producers, and as a result of that we’re able to have him consider how best to use our IPs. We’d like his input in our film business as well.
How is Miitomo doing?
The number of downloads is in line with expectations, but the most important thing is that we’d like people to keep playing for a long time. We’ve gotten many requests to make it easier to add friends and to increase the speed of the app, and we’re working to respond to those. With Miitomo, the more friends you connect with the wider the possibilities become, and we’d like to implement that into our next apps as well.
Your next apps will be the two games announced for release this fall, correct?
The Animal Crossing series, where players enjoy creating fantasy towns, has fans from children to adults. Is the plan to have the smartphone app connect with games on traditional hardware?
We aim to have our smartphone games work in synergy with our traditional hardware, so we’d like to make something like that a reality. I feel that we at Nintendo are well-suited for that sort of thing.
Do you mean interacting with the 3DS?
Considering the sales numbers for the platform, I don’t think you would be wrong to imagine as much.
Fire Emblem is more popular amongst hard-boiled fans. It’s a SRPG where you direct an army, after all.
It’s precisely because of that that we felt it was a good fit for smartphones. But if we were to bring it over 1:1 it would feel a bit pointless. So the question is, what parts of Fire Emblem would be enjoyable to bring to smartphones? That was the key question, and while I’m afraid the answer to that is an industry secret, we’re keeping it in mind as we develop.
In your future apps the plan is to have more monetization, but is there any concern about the increasing number of people who spend too much on smartphone games?
At the moment, we have no official reports on that. However, the players of Nintendo games are not simply made up of people who can splurge on any amount of DLC. We’re looking for a safer middle ground that can satisfy everyone.
You previously announced that five apps would be released before March of 2017. That leaves two; is the next one finally Mario?
We’re working to plan and develop IPs with a strong demand for them. I can’t say “the fourth game will be Mario”, but we’re well aware of people’s hopes.
What are your thoughts on your next-generation console, NX?
It’s something very new. The hardware, the software lineup, all of it is something I’d like to play for the first time myself.
By releasing in March 2017, you’re missing end-of-year sales. Isn’t that a bit late?
It’s for the purposes of our game development schedule. When people finish the launch titles, they’ll want things to buy in spring, on summer break, at Christmas. As such, it’s not simply a question of when the hardware’s ready; rather, we need to ensure our software lineup is also in a good place.
Is that in response to criticisms that the Wii U stalled out due to lack of games?
That was indeed a learning experience for us. However, it’s also true that we were struggling with the exchange rate at the time as well.
Given the NX will be released next March, won’t that cause people to stop buying consoles this year?
Our business is a lively one. Of course, if you compare the Wii U to the Wii, you understand that situation. When the NX is released, the Wii U business will slow. But the 3DS has Pokemon coming this autumn, and that’s such a big hit that I can’t imagine the NX will have a negative impact on the 3DS.
It seems more to me that the NX will have an effect on the Wii U due to the fact that both will be consoles.
I suppose it can be seen that way. However, the NX is neither the successor to the Wii U nor to the 3DS. It’s a new way of playing games, which I think will have a larger impact than the Wii U, but I don’t feel it’s a pure replacement for the Wii U.
The forecast for the fiscal year ending March 2017 remains unchanged from last year. However, projected Wii U sales are 240,000 units behind. Do you feel the NX will sell enough to make up that difference?
The NX is still an uncertain quantity, so any numbers are tentative. However, it’s true it will be difficult unless we foster a strong interest in the NX in our customers. In addition, I have high hopes for the sales of our smartphone apps.
I am curious about the price. Nintendo has a history of value-focused consoles.
It’s true there is a certain expectation for the prices of Nintendo consoles. Our developers put a lot into them, but we can not sell at a loss. The final price is determined by balancing these two conflicting ideas. I don’t believe it’s as simple as “because this is a new platform, we can make it more expensive.”
May 16, 2016