The history of Console gaming and gaming at large has been revolutionized by Nintendo. Their Famicom, later rebranded as NES for the Western market revitalized the dormant industry in the mid-80s.
However, with the future being unpredictable, Nintendo might move away from their long-trusted gameplan after all.
Shuntaro Furukawa, Nintendo’s Sixth global president, was interviewed by Nikkei on his approach of doing business in such a volatile industry, the pros, the cons and so on. As translated by Nintendo Everything, Furukawa reflected on his roots in the company as well as to what the future holds for the firm.
Upon being asked about the risk of being a console and software developer in the entertainment industry, Furukawa said:
We’re in the entertainment industry; there isn’t much we can do about that risk. To us, the guiding principle by which we operate is offering customers all around the world innovative and unique ways to play games.
I don’t want our developers to think too much along the lines of “what should I do if we fail?” My most important role is to facilitate an environment in which they can demonstrate their own abilities. I’m not a pro developer myself, so I leave the actual development to leaders that can tell what a good game is and what isn’t.
Furukawa further clarified that his hands-off approach is not absolute. He simply balances between creative freedom and business discipline. With mutual understanding being the key factor, decisions are taken that benefit the business and the developers.
Further queries were regarding “innovative dilemma” – Nintendo’s past success making it almost impossible to achieve a new breakthrough, to which, Furukawa replied that innovative dilemma can be of concern when ingenuity and flexibility of a company run its course. In the case of Nintendo, both are going strong with Nintendo Switch and it’s software delivering the optimal “Nintendo experience”. Like the olden days of console development, the flexibility of technology will allow Nintendo to reach beyond and deliver. In time, Nintendo may ditch the home console development altogether if it’s required.
We aren’t really fixated on our consoles. At the moment we’re offering the uniquely developed Nintendo Switch and its software – and that’s what we’re basing how we deliver the “Nintendo experience” on. That being said, technology changes. We’ll continue to think flexibly about how to deliver that experience as time goes on.
It has been over 30 years since we started developing consoles. Nintendo’s history goes back even farther than that, and through all the struggles that they faced the only thing that they thought about was what to make next. In the long-term, perhaps our focus as a business could shift away from home consoles – flexibility is just as important as ingenuity.
On the question of whether fluctuations and deviations are to be expected in today’s business, he reflected on his attempts of reducing instabilities. Through the release of more games on Smartphones and other grandiose methods, he aims to make Nintendo a part of everyday life.
I’m thinking about little ways we can reduce that kind of instability. I’d like to increase the (amount of) games on smartphones that have a continuous stream of revenue. We’re also dabbling in theme parks and movies – different ways to have our characters be a part of everyday life. I’m anticipating a strong synergy like that.
I spend my waking hours mostly playing games and grinding for gear while blasting music on max volume. In my off time, I can be found browsing reddit or the internet in general in search of obscure knowledge about said games.