Former Star Fox developer Giles Goddard has said that Nintendo is "basically run by the shareholders" now, adding that profit is a primary focus of the company these days — a stark contrast from how it used to be.
Giles Goddard has been in the games industry for well over 30 years. He's probably worked on one or two games you might have heard of (especially if you owned a Nintendo 64); his credited works include the original Star Fox game, Super Mario 64, and 1080° Snowboarding.
At the moment, Goddard is working on a new VR snowboarding game and he recently did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit to promote his upcoming game and talk about his history in the industry. Naturally, quite a few people asked about his time at Nintendo and what he thinks about the company today — and he doesn't have the best opinion of what Nintendo has become.
'Old Nintendo' is No More
One of the many things Giles Goddard laments is how the company has moved away from "old Nintendo" — a style of management headed up by the late Satoru Iwata, the kind of man who would cut his own salary by half after poor financial performance. One person asked how Iwata's passing had affected the company, and it looks like it wasn't for the better in Goddard's opinion.
"[The passing of former Nintendo CEO & President Satoru Iwata] has deeply affected Nintendo [in my opinion,] yes," Goddard said in a reply. "It's now basically run by the shareholders."
"Without wanting to diss Nintendo, I think their primary focus nowadays is money," he explained in a separate comment. "Which I find quite sad[,] to be honest. I know internally they haven't changed and still want to make the best games but the company's goals have changed."
"My personal take is that since Iwata-shacho passed away Nintendo's shareholders took control and concentrated their efforts on the most profitable franchises." – Former Star Fox Developer and Chuhai Labs CEO Giles Goddard
The apparent focus on profits above all else has certainly been noticed — several people in the Reddit AMA (and all over the Internet) have criticized the company for porting older games at higher prices (or full price).
Most recently, there was the reveal of the Skyward Sword Amiibo that you have to purchase if you want to access a fast-travel mechanic — something that would never have happened at "Old Nintendo" according to Goddard.
"I like the idea of keeping old classic games alive on new hardware but agree they could be cheaper," Goddard said. "Don't forget Nintendo's primary goal is to make money[,] however. [...] Locking any kind of 'advantage' behind something you have to pay for goes against everything 'old Nintendo' stood for."
"I don't think [Nintendo will start improving this situation] as long as the shareholders are in charge of the company - it was a sad day that Iwata-shacho passed away for many reasons."
Goddard's company Chuhai Labs is currently working on Carve Snowboarding, a VR snowboarding game coming to Oculus Quest in Summer 2021.
Despite these criticisms, Goddard has fond memories of his time at the company. As one of only two Western developers working on Star Fox in Japan, he certainly made a few cultural missteps (as did his other colleagues). The working culture of the day was strange for both parties, too; Westerners were unfamiliar with the idea of not leaving work until everyone was done, and the Japanese Nintendo branch was baffled that the American workers would simply clock out and go home at the end of the day. I'm sure that working at such an illustrious company had its challenges, but Goddard seems to have enjoyed his time at "Old Nintendo."
"I miss knowing that what I make literally millions of people will play and also the great amount of talent there (not that we don't have that now though)[,]" he said.
"I guess I regret not staying on for a few more games[.]"
For now, Giles Goddard is focusing on the launch of Carve Snowboarding for the Oculus Quest; you'll be able to get your hands on this arcade-style VR snowboarding game in Summer 2021. Chuhai Labs is also working on a game for the Playdate, an adorably weird handheld console with a built-in hand crank. You can find out more about what his company has made (and what it's working on in the future) at Chuhai Labs' official website.
What do you think of Giles Goddard's criticisms of Nintendo? Do you think the company has lost its way in recent years? Let us know in the comments below!