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NCL’s President Breaks it Down

by Max Lake - January 17, 2002, 8:19 pm PST
Source: Mainichi Interactive

Nintendo president, Hiroshi Yamauchi spoke candidly about GameCube, his developer fund, the competition and his retirement today… Find out what he had to say!

In an interview with Mainichi Interactive that was posted today, Nintendo Co. Ltd’s 74 year-old president, Hiroshi Yamauchi spoke on a variety of topics, from GameCube’s performance over the holidays, to his retirement and what comes next. As usual, Mr. Yamauchi was anything but reserved in expressing his point of view—but we expect nothing less from Nintendo’s top dog. Thanks to GamePro for posting a translation of the interview!

Hiroshi Yamauchi - Crazy... LIKE A FOX!

Q: The Christmas battle in America between the big three—the GameCube, Microsoft’s new Xbox, and the PlayStation 2—garnered a lot of attention in the industry.

A: We released the system to the world’s largest market in November and the initial store shipment of 1.3 million systems is mostly sold out. About 4.5 million video game systems were sold overall; all three consoles were at nearly equal footing. I think the impact of the terrorist attacks helped all home entertainment products sell better.

We also shipped 1.3 million GameCubes in Japan in September, and while sales aren’t below expectations, I can’t say it’s been selling incredibly well.

Q: We’ve been hearing lately how Japanese gamers are drifting away from games.

A: Software is still flooding the market today, but Japanese users aren’t buying the same old rehashed games anymore. We’re only expecting two GameCube titles to sell a million copies: Pikmin, with its realistically-moving A.I.-driving characters, and Super Smash Bros. Melee with its high-powered fighting.

Q: Why is that?

A: Every game developer is shooting for nothing but realism and flashiness, so we’re seeing an overflow of games that look exactly the same. What does realism and flashiness have to do with fun? If more games with new types of gameplay and fun come on the market, the market will expand, companies will have more support, and there’d be a business to work with.

Q: Is that why you created a venture-capital game development fund with 20 billion yen (about $151 million U.S.) of your own money?

A: The Japanese game software market is in the same situation Japanese theme parks are in. If you’re not Universal Studios or Tokyo Disneyland then times are very tough right now. The industry is hurting for something new that’s not an RPG or fighting game, and developing talent to make new genres takes money. But with the IT slump, venture capital firms aren’t giving any money to game developers, and the banks aren’t lending, either. That’s why I created the fund.

Q: You have some strong rivals coming up against you.

A: I don’t think the Xbox will do very well in Japan. The same old genres and development methods still work in America, but they won’t interest the more discriminating gamers of Japan. The PS2 was just discounted too, but I can’t expect that will have much of an effect.

Q: Do you think you’ll win?

A: With hardware as advanced as it is now, game development takes an enormous amount of labor. Talented developers want a system that will let them create anything their imagination comes up with as quickly and easily as possible, and the GameCube is perfectly balanced between audio-visual power and ease of development. It’s a perfect match. You’ll see the difference gradually as the year progresses.

Q: Do you have any plans for a new president?

A: I’ve been thinking about it for more than two years now, but I think I want to retire before this summer. Nintendo isn’t going to work under one person anymore, though; it will be run under a group-leadership system.

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