Nintendo explains 'why we're still in the hardware business'

"Go third-party." But, so long as Nintendo's making games, they will not back down on making hardware.

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"Go third-party." That's the advice Nintendo has received for a long time. Even before the company shipped the massively-successful Wii, analysts have always been bearish on Nintendo's position as a hardware manufacturer.

But, so long as Nintendo's making games, they will not back down on making hardware. Nintendo of America senior director of corporate communications Charlie Scibetta told us that "Nintendo systems come to life the best when the hardware and software work in perfect harmony. That's why we're still in the hardware business, because we think our hardware is the best way to bring software to life."

"It's tuned perfectly for that. When Mario bounces from mushroom to mushroom, it feels so responsive because the software has been tuned especially for that hardware," Scibetta said.

Other companies are also introducing second-screen components into their games. For example, Ubisoft has companion apps for Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed 4. EA has "Commander Mode" controlled via tablet in Battlefield 4. Isn't Nintendo's competitive edge being taken away? "For Nintendo, having the second screen built right into the hardware means there's no learning curve, no lag, no technology curve to try and figure out how to use it," Scibetta argued. "When you talk about other companies utilizing a second screen, for us we wanted to have it built right in, that ensures that the software comes to life the way it was intended to be by the designer."

Oddly, very few games showcased by Nintendo at this year's E3 take advantage of the GamePad in meaningful ways. None of the company's biggest upcoming games--Mario Kart 8, Smash Bros, Mario 3D World--utilize the second screen significantly. So, what's the GamePad's marquee title? Scibetta's answer surprised us.

"I think that one game that we have in the booth here that does a lot of interesting things with the capabilities of Wii U is The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD," he said, pointing to a port of decade-old game. "You can use the GamePad to take photographs, to write messages, and you can use Miiverse which is our online service, and you can actually put those screenshots in a Tingle bottle and send them out."

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From The Chatty

  • reply
    June 26, 2013 10:30 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Nintendo explains 'why we're still in the hardware business'.

    "Go third-party." But, so long as Nintendo's making games, they will not back down on making hardware.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 10:32 AM

      Nintendo has done a pretty poor job even with the Wii to showcase the hardware. Their core franchises largely stayed away from doing anything crazy with motion controls and now we're still waiting to see them do something with the tablet in a core Mario/Zelda type game.

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        June 26, 2013 11:05 AM

        Motion controls can be done well except when they offload QTE's on to them.

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        June 26, 2013 11:19 AM

        To be fair, Skyward Sword did a lot with the motion controls. In most others it wasn't as central to the design, I admit.

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          June 26, 2013 11:26 AM

          if they want 3rd party publishers to believe in those hardware capabilities they can't wait 4 years to release a showcase title for it

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            June 26, 2013 12:39 PM

            True. There was also Wii Sports Resort in 2009, I thought that was an excellent showcase of motion control, but again, that's years after launch, and like Skyward, it required the new MotionPlus sensor.

            I totally agree that it took Nintendo too long to prove that motion control could be more than a novelty. Similarlly, they need to show people how the GamePad can be used for more innovative purposes than just a map or inventory screen.

            There's nothing inherently wrong with using their unique hardware as just a "neat little bonus feature", IMO, but if they want to genuinely impress the public they have to step it up beyond that.

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              June 26, 2013 2:00 PM

              Nintendo proved motion control could be more than a novelty long before Motion Plus was introduced. Microsoft and Sony announced their motion control systems to take sales away from the Wii and Motion Plus had already been announced and in the works..

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                June 26, 2013 2:10 PM

                Wii Sports proved there was a market for it. Nintendo didn't do much beyond that to prove its worth, particularly outside casual games like that.

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                June 26, 2013 2:12 PM

                I'm not bagging on the Wii, I <3 Nintendo. There's nothing wrong with the earlier games, I just think the motion control only reached its full potential with the MotionPlus.

                Compare Skyward Sword vs. the Wii version of Twilight Princess. Skyward Sword is much more precise.

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                  June 26, 2013 2:33 PM

                  Absolutely, I was just saying it didn't take Motion Plus to woo third parties and start the copycats.

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      June 26, 2013 10:46 AM

      I love their games and I like the WiiU. Its a solid piece of tech that for some reason everyone chooses to overlook. Every single time I see tablet this or tablet that on other games I laugh, cause Nintendo did it first. I cant fathom giving my children the tour of the gaming world and have their first game be Gears of War or COD.
      That just asinine.

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        June 26, 2013 10:52 AM

        In fairness, many gamers overlook the Wii U because it lacks games. The Field of Dreams quote applies to first-party Nintendo software: "If you build it, they will come." I expect Wii U sales to pick up around the holidays with the release of Wind Waker HD, Mario 3D World, and the new Donkey Kong Country; and spike again next spring when Smash Bros. 4 and Mario Kart 8 drop.

        Publishers will see hardware sales rising and develop software with confidence, knowing that a user base (finally) exists to buy their games.

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          June 26, 2013 10:54 AM

          It's also far too expensive for what it offers.

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          June 26, 2013 10:55 AM

          but those same publishers just went through a generation where Nintendo already had the hardware sales with an underpowered console but those hardware sales failed to deliver the type of customers the publishers wanted

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        June 26, 2013 10:54 AM

        Yeah, why would their first game be a rated M game. That's just asinine.

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        June 26, 2013 10:57 AM

        Agreed. People harp on Nintendo for KIDDIE GAMES, but, uh, I want my kiddies to play games.

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          June 26, 2013 10:59 AM

          And more importantly, I'd rather my 10-year-old nephew and 7-year-old niece interact with a family-friendly Miiverse than with a bunch of foul-mouthed 12-year-olds on Xbox LIVE.

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          June 26, 2013 12:54 PM

          that's the best thing about nintendo games, they release games for kids that isn't shovelware or licensed shit.

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            June 26, 2013 1:39 PM

            Not just for kids but for everyone! Nobody I know does not like a Mario Kart game! Nintendo games are easily some on the best out there!

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 10:46 AM

      And this is why they are going to fail. Head in the sand constantly.


      PLAY. THE. GAME

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 10:53 AM

      A quote from NOA means nothing. I want to hear from Miyamoto, Iwata, or someone from NOJ.

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        June 26, 2013 12:49 PM

        Trust me.. NOA repeats what NOJ thinks.

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        June 26, 2013 1:51 PM

        As someone who writes for the industry, you should know it's NCL or Nintendo Co. Ltd. when referring to the parent branch.

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          June 26, 2013 3:49 PM

          I was on my phone so I stuck with abbreviations. Casual conversation on a message board, br0.

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      June 26, 2013 11:01 AM

      What a learning cure!

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      June 26, 2013 11:32 AM

      I loved how Metroid Prime and Wave Race felt on the gamecube contoller, it just felt perfect. I hope more people get to check out the wii u's gamepad because to me it's excellent and the tablet is nice.

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      June 26, 2013 11:45 AM

      I think the Wii U will sell more if they offer a separate SKU without the tablet controller and for $199 or less. The tablet controller needs to be relegated to the status of an optional accessory. Ultimately, the Wii U needs to be replaced with new hardware within 3 years.

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        June 26, 2013 11:48 AM

        Fuck no. The tablet controller is the single best reason to have a WiiU over the competition. It's also a really comfortable controller in and of itself.

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          June 26, 2013 11:50 AM

          No doubt. People overlook how awesome it is to have a map/inventory/second screen whatever right there.

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            June 26, 2013 12:03 PM

            I'm not sure how much it's overlooked as it is just not perceived as sufficiently interesting to spend $300+ for a new console with current generation hardware

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              June 26, 2013 12:07 PM

              Precisely this. I want to play new mario/zelda.metroid games very badly. That tablet appears to be quite similar to the Kinect: full of promise but not persuasive enough to justify the added cost.

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                June 26, 2013 12:40 PM

                Is it possible to play Wii-U games on Dolphin?

                I'd rather do that than invest in another console for 2-3 games over its lifetime.

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                  June 26, 2013 12:47 PM

                  No, Wii U would require a whole new emulator, which is way down the line if it's ever going to happen at all.

                  Dolphin worked on both Wii and GameCube because the hardware is very similar between the two. The Wii U is a whole different beast.

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                    June 26, 2013 1:00 PM

                    Ah I thought there was a similarity as you can play Wii games on the Wii U i thought :|

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                      June 26, 2013 2:03 PM

                      Well, you CAN play Wii games on the Wii U! But an emulator doesn't exist yet for playing Wii U games on a PC. Dolphin only handles GameCube and Wii, not Wii U.

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                    June 26, 2013 1:23 PM

                    stupid question: would a Retina Macbook Pro be powerful enough to run Zelda? lol.

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                      June 26, 2013 2:05 PM

                      I wouldn't know. I play my Wii games on an actual Wii. Sure, it's only 480p but it isn't fussy and glitchy like an emulator can be.

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                        June 26, 2013 3:49 PM

                        Oh trust me that would ideal but my Wii's video output simply doesn't work and all I want to do is play the final Zelda game before I retire it for good :( I don't want to buy another Wii and I don't want to buy a Wii U.

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                      June 26, 2013 3:43 PM

                      it should run pretty well. even better if you have the one with discrete graphics.

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                        June 26, 2013 3:49 PM

                        hmmm....but how would the wiimote work with a laptop??

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                          June 26, 2013 4:04 PM

                          just fine. its a bluetooth device and works fully on PC. dolphin fully supports up to 4 wiimotes and chucks at the same time.

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                    June 26, 2013 1:28 PM

                    WII U CPU is almost identical to the WII, except triple core and with a few extra extensions (and higher clock rate). The CPU could be emulated in no time, probably already is. The problem is the GPU. Almost nothing is known about it. Its sorely under powered, as is expected, but its not completely useless, and its basically the same architecturally as a modern Radeon. That makes it very, very hard to emulate. That is where all the work is being done, to figure out the GPU.

                    It will happen. I would say in a couple years we will have a decent WIIU emulator.

                    The Gamepad has already been hacked. It was working on PC almost as soon as the WIIU came out. Obviously the software has not been made public yet, but the POC is in place and just waiting for something useful to do with it. I believe they are still working on the finer points of the protocols, but the gamepad is basically a non issue as well. It all boils down to the GPU.

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                      June 26, 2013 4:44 PM

                      Accually, we still do not know what the CPU is in its entirety. It is from the same family, but it laughable to call them copies. Hell it has tech in it that is also found in the Power 7. that CPu would be impossible to even get up to the speed it is with the tech found in the Wii.

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                        June 26, 2013 4:45 PM

                        Not to mention the GPU is a totally different beast, the subsystems are different. Dont expect a emulator any time soon.

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                          June 26, 2013 6:02 PM

                          thats basically what i said. noone knows how the GPU works, though its a radeon at heart. the CPU is quiet literally a triple core broadway from what we can tell.

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              June 26, 2013 12:39 PM

              I never understood that mentality. Hardware doesn't make a quality game and having the tablet controller as a standard component of the console opens up a bunch of new doors in game design.

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                June 26, 2013 12:54 PM

                Doors that very few, including Nintendo, are opening to a degree that entices someone to spend $300+ on this console for anything other than the promise of traditional core Nintendo franchises. You want people to believe in this new tablet controller? Release Mario with real tablet support out the gate. Or a Zelda. Or a Mario Kart with more than just the map. Anything.

                And of course hardware quality is intrinsic to the game experience. Where's my Assassin's Creed on the Wii? GTA4? There's plenty of real, new gameplay experiences enabled by that improved hardware in each generation. We already know the limits of the current generation of hardware. I'll get GTA5 in a few months that stretches it to its limits. Given the option to spend $300+ on a new console that has 5+ year old power levels or power on par or greater than my PC what's the choice? Obviously it doesn't just create quality on its own, but it does create real opportunities for innovation in as much or more ways than a new controller (particularly in the sense that increased hardware power is a more well understood opportunity for innovation). You work on sports games, I love sports games, but there's a lot of room to grow there. It's not like we're hard up for ways to improve them with pure horsepower. I like the idea of trying to use the touch controls and whatever else in a sports game. But that's unproven to me but even when proven it's just one feature. What is definitely proven is that they need more pure processing power for more realistic physics, animation, graphical flourishes (field/uniform degredation), etc. Would I like a touch screen controller for Madden's playcalling interface? Sure, and maybe I'll get it on an Xbox with Smart Glass or a PS4 with a Vita (obviously at a significant premium over a Wii U then). But even if I don't, am I going to prioritize that feature over the massively increased fidelity of those next gen versions which offer real gameplay improvements as a result of that fidelity? Am I going to prioritize it over a higher fidelity simulation in franchise/owner mode? I can sympathize with the frustration that surely comes from being in the position you are but it's just an awfully hard sell to core gamers. I mean we just went through a generation where EA basically gave up on the Nintendo platform with their core franchises and now they're basically doing the same with the Wii U while showing some really impressive looking demos on the Xbox and PS4.

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                June 26, 2013 1:29 PM

                so did the wiimote. and the kinect. and the virtual boy.

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                  June 26, 2013 5:53 PM

                  Throwing the Virtual Boy into your post doesn't negate some of the great games and experiences on the Wii and Kinect.

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                    June 26, 2013 6:22 PM

                    the point of the post was the VB was built around a potential game changing experience, that was never used well. it was pure marketing hyperbole. the wii was the same thing, the only difference being that it was better timed and marketed. the kinect, well, i wont really say much about it aside from the overwhelmingly negative opinions that are pretty well established as the norm for the thing. ive never used one.

                    i see the WIIU as just another extension of the WII, except this time they botched the marketing and timing. there is even less incentive for anyone but nintendo to do anything innovative, and nintendo never really did anything innovative with the wiimote. i worry for nintendo.

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          June 26, 2013 6:03 PM

          ^ This. I fucking love the Wii U controller. Not only how great it feels, but that it allows me to play games while watching baseball on TV or while others are watching programs. I can also download updates or demos without having to stop watching TV. Hopefully more games utilize it in the future.

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        June 26, 2013 12:05 PM

        And there goes any major hope of it being used well in a game.

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        June 26, 2013 12:48 PM

        Have you used a Wii U?

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        June 26, 2013 1:46 PM

        why in pluperfect hell would you want them to take away the best feature and create a greatly segregated market?

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        June 26, 2013 5:12 PM

        Yep, this needs to happen. I'd have a Wii U already if it wasn't for the price. I don't give a shit about the controller.

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        June 26, 2013 5:45 PM

        U r dumb.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 12:51 PM

      "It's tuned perfectly for that. When Mario bounces from mushroom to mushroom, it feels so responsive because the software has been tuned especially for that hardware," Scibetta said.

      Oh.

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        June 26, 2013 3:46 PM

        i hate hyperbole like that in the games industry

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        June 26, 2013 3:48 PM

        Insert the "WTF am I reading" meme image here.

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      June 26, 2013 1:35 PM

      What kind of BS reasoning is that?

      So if Mario was developed for other consoles, it would magically become impossible to optimize for them? Not to mention its fucking Mario and not Crysis, it probably wouldnt need much optimization to run on my goddamn PHONE.

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        June 26, 2013 4:46 PM

        I can say as a dev myself. they are right.

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      June 26, 2013 1:43 PM

      Nintendo's has two real issues these days:

      Terrible 3rd party relationships

      Not leveraging the features of their hardware enough these days and playing things too safe game development wise.

      The former issue has been happening for over a decade, but the latter has only really started the last few years. The biggest strength Nintendo had was their first party games. But these days anything they release seems stale. And that makes me sad

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      June 26, 2013 2:05 PM

      I'd be happy at this point of Nintendo got out of the hardware market and became a software publisher.

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      June 26, 2013 3:21 PM

      OH SHIT. They can take pictures of stuff in the game, and put it online!. OMG, so innovative...

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      June 26, 2013 3:46 PM

      The software needs the hardware line is so silly. Optimization isn't exclusive to their hardware.

      Even if the WiiU never recovers, I don't see Nintendo leaving the portable gaming market any time soon. Until smart phone developers integrate more sophisticated control options into their devices, Nintendo will have a place.

      The problem for the smartphone is that the moment you try to integrate an analog slider and buttons, it become a worse phone.

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      June 26, 2013 4:15 PM

      Sounds like the old Apple line, but doesn't quite make sense here to me.

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      June 26, 2013 4:54 PM

      Games fix everything. The 3DS had arguably even weaker, less unique hardware comparatively to the Vita when it was released and zero games for the first 6-9 months (especially stacked up against the Vita). Once they got on a cadence of releasing at least one high quality, must have game a month (which arguably started in January this year) it suddenly became the hottest platform.

      Mark my words - exact same thing will happen with the WiiU. Once the parade of good games hits, we'll all forget these silly conversations.

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        June 26, 2013 5:13 PM

        Everyone was hoping for a parade of good games with the Wii, but it didn't really materialize. We had to beg them to release xenoblade outside of Japan, ffs.