Yamauchi Remarks On the Next-Generation Console Race

The president of Nintendo Company Limited speaks about the future of game development, franchises, and the competition.

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In an interview with Japanese web site Wit Capital, Nintendo Company Ltd. President Hiroshi Yamauchi spoke candidly about his company's plans for the GameCube, his opinions on third-party developers, and the competition.

Yamauchi began the interview by stating that modern game development will need to have shorter development times in order to make a profit, and that current game genres like RPGs will have to change before consumer demand dictates the change.

"Recently two RPGs for the PlayStation sold two to three million copies, but there is no guarantee that this will continue for three or five years. Can you really say the game marketplace is re-energized just because two games sold well? Currently, most games released for the PS2 are not selling well at all. I am confident that this is because game makers truly believe that they cannot make money on the PS2. Large-scale games are done for. If they continue to be made, then companies around the world will go under," Yamauchi stated.

Yamauchi went on to state that he expects game developers that rely on sequels to their franchises in order to make a profit to eventually fall on hard times. Considering Nintendo's reliance upon its Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong franchises, his statements are full of irony. Yamauchi also claimed that in order for software development houses to succeed, their products must be globally accepted.

"The essence of game design is to develop new types of fun, to constantly strive to raise the bar of perfection. Despite this, software companies keep on making IIs, IIIs, even VIIs, VIIIs and IXs. Game creators end up hitting a dead end and having to change their ways. Do Westerners enjoy Dragon Quest? Even if they do, I doubt there are many; the game is targeted towards hardcore Japanese gamers. In the 21st century, software must sell worldwide, must be supported worldwide. Companies that are supported only in Japan and keep on releasing sevens and eights and nines won't make it," Yamauchi predicted.

Yamauchi then began to comment on third-party developers, claiming that there are too many that do not have a serious commitment to produce quality software.

"Software companies have been popping up like flies, and many of them are not helping the industry at all. Our relationships with software companies have changed from those of ten, five, even three years ago, and it will certainly change with this game machine, but I can't say in concrete terms how. We will accept those that want to make games, and once we accept them, we'll talk with them to ensure they don't make poor games," he stated.

At the end of the interview, Yamauchi turned his attention directly to the competition. He claimed that Sony won the last generation console war due to a large quantity of sub-par development houses producing PlayStation software. He then turned his attention towards Microsoft, who he claimed is throwing money at developers with no guarantee of success.

"I've been told that Sony won over Nintendo by surrounding itself with software companies, and I will admit that situation was there in the past. However, times have changed, and it's no longer a race to see how many useless companies you can get on your side. There are many people in the industry that know nothing about games. In particular, an American company is trying to do the same thing by engulfing software houses with money, but I don't believe that will go well. It looks like they'll sell their game system next year, but we'll see the answer to that the following year," he explained.

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