Satoru Iwata addresses official Q&A session with Nintendo shareholders
Nintendo has just held it’s official 73rd Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, wherein many shareholders were given the chance to ask Nintendo CEO and president Satoru Iwata various questions about the company’s current and future plans. Shigeru Miyamoto was also on-hand to add his two cents regarding the shareholders’ questions, which raised some pretty interesting points.
Among the questions asked was a query that revolved around Nintendo’s somewhat limited presence at this year’s E3 expo, where the Japanese games-maker focused more on game reveals that any hardware additions to their Wii U system.
Iwata responded to the question by adding that Nintendo plans to breach the gap by revealing new titles–conversely Iwata also addressed that Nintendo has underestimated the manpower needed to maintain the HD quality of Wii U titles, but he is planning on introducing a fix to with the new “Nintendo Web Framework”:
At the start of the E3 show this year, we announced our Wii U software lineup until 2014 mainly through Nintendo Direct, rather than holding a large-scale presentation as we did in previous years.
However, we did not announce all of the games to be released during this period. Most of those who are interested in E3 are video game fans that are eager for information on so-called traditional games and we had a lot of information to be disclosed to such people.
Miyamoto also had the following to say about the current manpower requirements of the Wii U, and how Nintendo is addressing the situation:
When it comes to the scale of software development, Wii U with HD graphics requires about twice the human resources than before.
Please allow me to explain that we may have underestimated the scale of this change and as a result, the overall software development took more time than originally anticipated just as we tried to polish the software at the completion phase of development. However, we are almost out of this phase, and we are also trying to create something unique utilizing an easier development approach called “Nintendo Web Framework.”
The Nintendo execs also responded to the mystery around the Wii Vitality Sensor; that obscure fingertip pulse oximeter that can measure a person’s pulse and, according to Nintendo, “a number of other signals being transmitted by their bodies”.
Iwata explains that the add-on didn’t work for about 10% of users, and that he isn’t comfortable with releasing a product that isn’t universally compatible with all Wii owners:
“After a large-scale test of a prototype inside the company, we found out that for some people the sensor did not work as expected. We wondered if we should commercialize a product which works as expected for 90 people out of 100, but not so for the other 10 people.
Though I am sorry that we did not give any specific updates after this product’s initial announcement, I would say that knowing that a product has a problem we should not launch it for the sole reason that we have already announced it.
In any case, its launch has been pending because we decided that the Wii Vitality Sensor’s current result is insufficient as a commercial product.”
Miyamoto also addressed the widespread belief that Nintendo isn’t creating any new franchises, but instead re-hashing and cashing in on re-releases of old series–a sentiment that’s easy to agree with after seeing Nintendo’s recent offerings, which feature many of their iconic characters and fan-favorite franchises:
It is sometimes said that Nintendo has recently had no new franchises. At E3 this year, some said that Nintendo is always showing the same series of games, but this is because we mainly featured the characters from our franchises in our exhibition booth.
There were six featured areas of our franchises in our booth, including Zelda, Mario and Donkey Kong, and the visitors were able to take commemorative photos with these characters. Considering that visitors will not enjoy less well-known franchises in such areas, we did it in this way, which resulted in such a criticism, I think.
Out of the many inquiries and miscellaneous questions, one shareholder asked the executives why Nintendo has yet to let go of any of its employees due to the Wii U’s tumultuous financial earnings.
Iwata responded by going into detail about his current practices and beliefs regarding the business side of Nintendo, and has cited that he wishes to keep employee morale high in order to maintain their current efficiency in software development:
“Regarding why we have not reduced the number of the personnel, it is true that our business has its ups and downs every few years, and of course, our ideal situation is to make a profit even in the low periods, return these profits to investors and maintain a high share price.
I believe we should continue working toward this ideal. If we reduce the number of employees for better short-term financial results, however, employee morale will decrease, and I sincerely doubt employees who fear that they may be laid off will be able to develop software titles that could impress people around the world.
I believe we can become profitable with the current business structure in consideration of exchange rate trends and popularization of our platforms in the future. We should of course cut unnecessary costs and pursue efficient business operations.”
I also know that some employers publicize their restructuring plan to improve their financial performance by letting a number of their employees go, but at Nintendo, employees make valuable contributions in their respective fields, so I believe that laying off a group of employees will not help to strengthen Nintendo’s business in the long run.
Our current policy is to achieve favorable results by continuously cutting unnecessary expenses and increasing business efficiency.”
It’s refreshing to see Satoru Iwata maintain the respect for his employees–an integral foundation for any business, and that he remains steadfast in his dedication to the company’s shareholders, investors, and the employees who turn out the software itself.
It will be interesting to see what new titles Nintendo will unveil in the next coming months, and they are always revealing new titles to their online marketplace via the Nintendo eShop.
It was also interesting to see Miyamoto address the growing belief that Nintendo is running out of ideas and original IPs, opting instead to launch various sequels to hit franchises like Mario Bros. and Zelda. While fans across the world are clamoring for more innovative titles, their success will largely depend on the actual gameplay as the initial novelty of a new Mario Bros. title may eventually wear off.
No doubt Nintendo will find a way to balance these factors regardless of the Wii U’s continuing trend in poor sales, and we may see some truly impressive titles make their way onto the market in the coming months.
For the full Q&A session between Nintendo’s CEO Satoru Iwata and its shareholders, be sure to check it out here.