Nintendo has a reputation for creating games for a young age demographic after their Wii success last console generation, but recent comments may reveal a growing fatigue with that particular crowd. Nintendo’s own Masahiro Sakurai and Platinum Games designer Hideki Kamiya have expressed themselves in various formats, venting their displeasure with fans over certain requests. This is not the first instance this year of the company’s shift in attitude that has been highlighted as their core business strategy going forward.
The written backlash from these developers is centered on the recently released Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS. Sakurai, known for his work on Kirby games and the director of this Smash iteration, took to a weekly column he writes to discuss some of the internal workings for the character selection. He mentions the three characters that are labeled as “alternate models,” Dr. Mario, Dark Pit and Lucina, in the roster, and says that their different functionality promoted them from simple pallet swaps to new, slightly altered characters. “It was vital that this didn’t increase the man-hours,” Sakurai offers as explanation with minor tweaks in styles taking favor over a complete rebalance of skills.
Using a restaurant analogy, Sakurai describes how he feels about Nintendo fans complaining to him over these three characters’ inclusion. “This is like a free desert,” he says, “after a luxurious meal that was prepared free of charge.” He then likens these people to someone eating at said establishment and demanding a free “meat dish” instead. Sakurai finishes by asking those that complain to allow him, the director, to make decisions on which characters are and are not included based on the man-hour and cost data that he has.
Platinum Games, one of the main second-party developers still in cahoots with Nintendo, have also expressed some displeasure with the vocal fan base. Kamiya, who is a designer for Bayonetta 2 and worked on Resident Evil 2 (called Bio Hazard 2 in Japan), came under bombardment on Twitter with fans wanting to see Bayonetta in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. This has pushed Kamiya to use some colorful language to those that pester the designer. To this day, he is still threatening a block on anyone that tweets him anything but the most innocent questions regarding the fighting title. His Twitter log reveals the most recent fraction of those that have requested a variety of tasks from free Smash Bros. codes to Bayonetta’s inclusion still.
Nintendo figurehead Shigheru Miyamoto, creator of Mario, Zelda, Pikmin and others, also expressed his views on a choice group of fans coinciding with the company’s new direction. With a migration of the casual gamer crowd to mobile phones, their internal strategy is now to focus on the “hardcore” fans of their software and company. Miyamoto, just as he was sharing this, was calling that particular group “pathetic” because of their sense of entitlement to digital entertainment. This “passive attitude,” as Miyamoto calls it, is partially what pushed Nintendo to focus more on creating adventures that dedicated fans seeking a challenge will love to explore and experience.
By Myles Gann