Iwata blames games, not economy for industry slump

Nintendo president criticizes game makers as a whole for failing to make new hits, explains Wii Vitality Sensor's absence from Electronic Entertainment Expo.

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After a trying 2009 that saw industry-wide revenues slip 8 percent, analysts predicted a return to growth in 2010. That rebound hasn't taken hold as quickly as expected, with the NPD Group reporting US retail software sales down double digits for three of the first four months of the year.

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Ever since "the incident," Iwata always uses the Wii Remote's wrist strap.

While a common refrain is that larger economic woes are taking their toll on gaming, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata considers that excuse inadequate. In an interview with Venture Beat, the executive said game makers should look to themselves for the cause first.

"My belief is we should not blame the bad economy for the cause of slow sales of video games," Iwata said. "The slow sales must be due to the lack of great software that everyone wants to buy. We have not shown off the great attractions of whatever we are selling. This is not the problem of Nintendo alone, but the entire video game industry."

The outspoken executive also suggested that the audience gets tired of games "more quickly than they did before," and acknowledged that Nintendo's own products--including the upcoming 3DS--are not immune to that.

"When you look at our 3D games concept, we recognize it will not be eternally appealing," Iwata said. "However, it's not a shallow concept that can be forgotten as a momentary fad."

Iwata also told the site that the Wii Vitality Sensor, a pulse-monitoring peripheral announced at E3 2009 but conspicuously absent from this year's show, is still in development. He noted that the trade show atmosphere was not an ideal setting to show off the attachment since it "demands that you calm down and relax." As for when the peripheral will launch, Iwata only said the company would like to have it out "in the near future."

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