Nintendo discusses why it returns to existing franchises

Director of product marketing says Nintendo sticks with Mario and Zelda games because new "fun and interesting" gameplay ideas make most sense paired with existing properties.

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During the latest Nintendo Direct presentation yesterday, the Japanese game giant revealed a slew of new 3DS games, but almost none were new intellectual properties.

GameSpot spoke with Nintendo director of product marketing Bill Trinen after the presentation about why the company continues to return to its existing franchises.

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"There's a couple of driving reasons why you keep seeing a lot of the same franchises come back," Trinen said. "One is just the way that we develop games. What we don't do is start off and say we're going to develop a new game in X series or what are we going to do with it? It's really more about what is a fun and interesting new gameplay element or gameplay mechanic? How do we develop that? And then what kind of a character or what series is that really best suited to?"

Trinen explained that in many cases, once a compelling new idea is conceived, it makes sense to pair that with an established character--like Mario or Zelda--so that the game can appeal to a wide range of people.

"And so, in a lot of the cases, if you've got an idea that's really fun and really interesting, pairing that with, for example, Mario, then that takes a fun and interesting gameplay mechanic and puts it with a character that makes it instantly appealing to a very wide range of people," Trinen said.

As part of its 3DS announcements yesterday, Nintendo revealed new gameplay ideas for upcoming installments to existing franchises.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past sequel for 3DS includes a new feature (pictured) where Link can morph into paper and move against walls, while the new 3DS Mario Party game will include AR Card games.

A second reason why Nintendo continues to develop new entries in existing franchises is because that's what fans want, Trinen said.

"Of course the other approach is, as you frequently see with Nintendo Directs and announcements like this, when we do announce something like a new Yoshi's Island, there's a tremendous fan reaction to that because they want it [laughs]."

Ultimately, Trinen acknowledged that the balancing act between delivering new franchises and extending existing ones is a challenging task, but one that Nintendo believes it has been successful at executing.

"You do on the one hand want to try to find a way to bridge that gap between what are the new experiences that we can offer? How can we give the fans what they're looking for in terms of new installments in existing series? And it is a balance that you've got to find."

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