Satoru Iwata answered some questions after the fiscal term that ended in March 2015, ranging from topics such as microtransactions to their vaguely detailed new hardware, Nintendo NX. There is much to be gleaned from the Q&A regarding the business side of Nintendo, but Iwata also shed light on some details that the average gamer might be interested in.
In the second question, Iwata was asked his thoughts on what Nintendo will be doing in terms of microtransactions. While he did not get into specifics, Iwata did have a few interesting things to say. He described most microtransactions take the approach of “narrow and large” in that they focus on a small group of people spending a lot of money for revenue. Iwata said that Nintendo will instead look to a “wide and small” approach in order to reach consumers around the world. What that means isn’t clear, but Iwata also had this to say:
Above all, as Nintendo is a family brand, we do not intend on changing the situation where parents and guardians can give Nintendo products to their children with peace of mind. In that sense, we want to pay very close attention to how we receive money.
What that actually means is anyone’s guess at the moment, but it does give us valuable insight into what Nintendo intends when approaching microtransactions. So far, gamers likely view most microtransactions as rather predatory, but Nintendo seems to be at least considering a different approach.
Also, Iwata mentioned in the second question that Nintendo is still actively working on a smart device app using Mii characters.
The fourth question asks about the Nintendo NX. Iwata first reminds us all that Nintendo does not plan to release any details regarding the system until 2016, but he did offer a little bit on the system:
Though I cannot confirm when it will be launched or any other details of the system, since I have confirmed that it will be ‘a dedicated video game platform with a brand new concept,’ it should mean that we do not intend it to become a simple ‘replacement’ for Nintendo 3DS or Wii U.
In other words, the Nintendo NX will be something that can coexist with the two platforms they have already. What that means is still a mystery. Iwata also noted that Nintendo has no plans to discuss the NX or their foray into the apps business.
Question five details Nintendo’s realizations that their various services, online specifically, have not been implemented effectively:
So far, Nintendo has built its official website, started the Club Nintendo membership service, made its dedicated video game systems network compatible, started Miiverse and has constructed other online services one at a time … we did not have an overall vision as to what the final and comprehensive format should be like and, as a result, we cannot say each of these services was connected to one another in an ideal way … When we look at Nintendo’s current network services from this perspective and others, they look like patchwork. They are not ideally designed for user convenience, and when we try to improve one, we have to modify not only the portion directly related to that service but also other seemingly unrelated components, so it cannot be done easily.
This confirms much of what many gamers have considered and complained about already, but Nintendo does seem to be aware of the issue. Nintendo seems committed to seeing that issue overhauled, beginning with their partnership with DeNA, the provider of one of the most popular mobile platforms in Japan:
The better the system can operate, the more smoothly and frequently our consumers will be able to travel between smart devices and dedicated game systems. It will increase the number of reasons for our consumers to keep on playing games or to keep on playing with their friends and relatives, increase the opportunities where one can recommend some games to others and vice versa or where people can exchange game-related information.
Nintendo will begin with smart device integration and move on from there. Also included in Iwata’s response to the question was some detail regarding what will be replacing Club Nintendo:
So far, we have been offering a loyalty program in which we offer corresponding points to those who have purchased our products, and we have been offering some rewards based on these points. What we are aiming to establish is not a simple extension of the existing loyalty program but a loyalty program with, say, the entertainment elements where the members feel that they have received certain rewards as a result of not only their purchases but also the history of their gameplay and how each consumer has interacted with others.
Again, what we can expect or what that means is still unclear, yet we can understand that the new program will be much more involved that Club Nintendo was.
Question seven regards region locking. Iwata stated that region locking for existing systems is going to stay, but that Nintendo is internally considering doing away with region locking for the Nintendo NX.
The final question, question nine, details some of Nintendo’s strategy going into the mobile market and their use of IP. Basically, Nintendo plans to release a few games on mobile and see how they do, then go from there. Iwata said they don’t know how often or how many games will be released on mobile, but that the first four or five will determine that.
Iwata also discussed how Nintendo uses their IP. He said that is not through licensing and other related avenues, but through exposure with their software:
Because the most profitable business for Nintendo is its software business, we put emphasis on considering where and how we should use and give our IP exposure so that as many people as possible will recognize and become familiar with them.
There is a lot more within that Q&A that many fans of Nintendo may find interesting or those interested in the business side of gaming. It is an interesting, worthwhile read.
What do you think the NX will be? Have we already started to see Nintendo’s strategy for mobile gaming with things like Pokemon Shuffle, including microtransactions?