Industry Chatter 08.02.2011

Satoru Iwata apologizes to 3DS early adopters.

By Andrew Hsieh. Posted 08/02/2011 17:00 4 Comments     ShareThis

It’s time for another week’s worth of Industry Chatter– where we talk about what’s going on with the architects of Videogameland. We’ve had pretty big news in the past week that we’ve covered and debated intensely– and it’s inevitable that the fallout and repercussions are just as compelling. Maybe you’re sick of talking about the 3DS price cut, but the industry certainly isn’t. Let’s head into the maelstrom now.

Last week, Satoru Iwata slashed his salary in two, and claimed that other higher-ups at Nintendo would too. Iwata further admitted that these salary cuts– FYI, he didn’t mention anything about bonuses– naturally had to occur because of the price cut and Ambassador program. The NoJ president further noted that he wanted to work more with retailers, saying that “eliminating the concerns of future hardware expansion early on would make a great difference to how retailers and software publishers will allocate their energies”, and that the response so far from retailers has been “fairly positive.” That said, Iwata didn’t finish there, choosing to deliver a personal apology to 3DS early adopters that went above and beyond Nintendo’s sugarcoated Ambassador program. Although Iwata wrote the letter in Japanese, the folks over at Giantbomb managed a translation, reprinted below:

To Those Customers Who Bought A Nintendo 3DS Before The Price Change

Greetings, everyone. This is Satoru Iwata from Nintendo.

Thank you very much for purchasing a Nintendo 3DS.

We have just announced a price drop for the Nintendo 3DS system effective on August 11 [August 12 in North America].

In the past, there have been price drops for video game systems some time after their release in order to broaden the user base further. However, never before has Nintendo chosen to issue such a dramatic price drop less than 6 months after a system release.

We are all too keenly aware that those of you who supported us by purchasing the 3DS in the beginning may feel betrayed and criticize this decision.

This unprecedented timing for a price cut is because the situation has changed greatly since we originally launched the 3DS. We decided it was necessary to take this drastic step in order to ensure that large numbers of users will continue to enjoy the 3DS in the future.

If the software creators and those on the retail side are not confident that the Nintendo 3DS is a worthy successor to the DS and will achieve a similarly broad (user) base, it will be impossible for the 3DS to gain popularity, acquire a wide range of software, and eventually create the product cycle necessary for everyone to be satisfied with the system.

Those customers who purchased the 3DS at the very beginning are extremely important to us. We know that there is nothing we can do to completely make up for the feeling that you are being punished for buying the system early. Still, we would like to offer the following as a sign of our appreciation to you.

[3DS Ambassador program details]

We feel a strong responsibility to develop the 3DS as a platform — to ensure that, in the end, everyone is satisfied; we will make every effort to do so.

Additionally, we know everyone is waiting for Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. They are scheduled for release in November and December, respectively, so we ask for your patience until then.

Thank you again, and we look forward to your continued support.

(Source: Giantbomb)

As Giantbomb reports, this particular note has no parallel in neither Nintendo of America nor Nintendo of Europe, although the latter company was far more subdued in its press release than NoA was, releasing a frank note detailing that NoE is “[…] aware this may cause you, the loyal fans who supported Nintendo 3DS from the beginning, to lose trust in us, and this is not our intention in any way.” Yet neither NoA head Reggie Fils-Aime nor NoE head Satoru Shibata have released personal statements as of yet, and Nintendo of Canada and Australia heads Conrad Abbott and Rose Lappin maintain their customary radio silence. Nevertheless, in the wake of Nintendo’s stock troubles, Iwata’s note is just a little more welcome to consumers who continue to be dissatisfied with their 3DS systems.

Meanwhile, all is not quiet on the Wii U front as Sony officials continue to remind consumers that that its Vita handheld will be able to work as a Wii U-esque controller with PlayStation 3, arguing that the Vita “can run software on both devices and use the network to sync the game states […] [with] the processing power of PS3 doing that work, Vita [doing] fancy graphics – however you want to do it. You’re not sacrificing the PS3′s CPU to be able to have a rich experience on Vita.” This comes just as NoE General Manager David Yarnton discussed that developers to whom Nintendo has been talking have been “blown away” by the expanse of options available to them, including applications in physiotherapy (Vitality Sensor, anyone?) or “many other different facets that we haven’t even explored ourselves.” Shigeru Miyamoto, for his part, declared that the Wii U made things “easier to understand” and noted that its screen gave Nintendo developers a “let’s stuff it with features so it can do anything” mentality. (NoJ producer Yoshiaki Koizumi specifically has “too many ideas” for Wii U Mario titles, stating that he’d rather streamline those ideas rather than releasing a quick Mario game with a “hodgepodge of ideas”.) Sony, of course, has all the more cause to combat Wii U, being a company that lagged behind Microsoft and Nintendo this generation, in stark contrast to its once-dominating PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles.

Kid Icarus: Uprising screen

Lastly, it turns out Masahiro Sakurai of Super Smash Bros. fame has been having a little difficulty with developing Kid Icarus: Uprising, and is a bit too preoccupied with the 3DS game to even think about the Smash Bros. games promised for Wii U and 3DS. (Sakurai earlier mentioned that, in contrast to Iwata’s comments at E3 2011, his team had “no plans whatsoever” for a new Super Smash Bros. game, and all the work involved “makes [him] cringe.”) Sakurai mentions that Kid Icarus: Uprising was originally conceived as a way to showcase the 3DS’ capabilities, and that its multiplayer functions naturally arose as a result. That said, Sakurai says that even at this stage of development, his team continues to “add more and more to the game,” promising that fans “can base their expectations [of the new Smash Bros. game] once [they] see how well-made Kid Icarus is.” Nevertheless, development for Kid Icarus: Uprising, which Sakurai says will have controls unique among portable games as well as weaponry that outshines any comparison to the Star Fox series, seems to be rolling along. Hopefully, the man who designed Kirby’s Dream Land at the age of nineteen won’t be too disgruntled afterward– Super Smash Bros. fans are notoriously hard to please.

4 Responses to “Industry Chatter 08.02.2011”

  • 57 points
    Urie says...

    Nice round up.

    Quick note: what you refer to as Nintendo of Japan is in actuality called Nintendo Company Limited, or NCL (not being a snob; I’d want someone to point stuff like that out to me).

    Iwata-san is one of the key redeeming factors about Nintendo in the modern age. Not hating on Yamauchi, of course, but Iwata actually works pretty hard to establish a rapport with consumers. You can pass it off as Japanese custom, which certainly plays a part, but the fact of the matter is that Iwata is a solid president and more than a decent person.

    Of course, Iwata’s apology is perhaps unnecessary. I know that many of the early adopters are…well…early adopters! Part of the rush of owning a new system is getting it on day one, so in that sense, nothing to apologize for. They know they’re paying more for something they could hold off on for a year or two. I do appreciate the apology for the launch in general, though, which is hidden between the lines (“please wait for Mario Kart!)

    Not to be fanboy’s advocate, but the Vita’s purported controller abilities seem less thought-out than the Wii U’s. That is to say, while it’s likely to be a key feature, it isn’t a principle one. It will no doubt be put to good use, but I doubt very much that it will be as robust as the Wii U (then again, the multi-touch capabilities may have me eating my words).

    It’s nice to see the Wii U getting a good response from publishers and developers. Nintendo may actually be on to a control scheme with greater depth. Now lets see some actual software. Cliffy B thinks its cool, but that means jack without any Epic titles (which are also “epic”).

    The Super Smash Bros. situation gets worse by the day. This incident has gone from encouraging to disappointing to downright worrisome. Sakurai sounds like working of Smash is the last thing that he wants to do, at least at the moment. To be honest, I was kind of hoping he *wouldn’t* be involved with the sequel, at least not to the same extent as Brawl. Not to say that he has done or will do a bad job, but it’d be nice to see what someone else could do with it. Personally, I’m pitching for a sprawling epic story, which he’s had trouble delivering even with a Square Enix writer (oh wait, I meant “rambling and incoherent” rather than “epic”).

    • 1332 points
      Andrew Hsieh says...

      Thanks for pointing that out! You’re right, of course– I figured I’d make it more comprehensible if I ran the names parallel to each other (Nintendo of Canada, America, etc.) but “NCL” is pretty distinctive in its own right.

      Agreed, of course, on Iwata being an actually decent human being instead of a cutthroat president (though one wonders which kind truly succeeds in this industry)– and I’ve learned to give up on new Smash Bros. entries until they’re actually released. Or, at least, until updates.

      On story mode, though– Sakurai definitely seems like he’s into that sort of thing, though I doubt a bit whether he can actually pull it off. (Anyone care to explain to me what happens in Brawl? It’s worse than Kingdom Hearts, honestly.) Like he says, I suppose we’ll see come Kid Icarus: Uprising‘s release.

  • 1379 points
    xeacons says...

    Hate to burst Sony’s bubble, Nintendo already tried that. First the GCN/GBA and there was some limited hook-ups on the Wii/DS. That’s why they invented Wii U. So you didn’t have to buy two systems (and often a second game too).

    Well, apology accepted Iwata, but it’s not the price drop that’s worried me (20 free games? I’m happy). It’s sales. It’s game cancellations. It’s 3rd party devs jumping ship. This isn’t the Virtual Boy; this IS the next gen. Where is everybody?

  • 381 points
    Hyawatta says...

    Packaged vs. Peripheral

    The Wii U has the same advantage over the PS3Vita that the Wii has over the Move. The Wii U controller will be packaged in with every Wii U that is sold, whereas the Vita will be sold separately. This enables all developers to create Wii U games that take full advantage of the second screen because they know that all Wii U owners will have that second screen. Far fewer developers will create games that would make use of PS3Vita compatibility because they will be hindered by a segmented market where there will always be PS3 owners who do not have a Vita and will not be able to play those games.

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