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Does Miyamoto need to retire?

Posted by: Sean Colleli at 10/17/2009 4:12 PM
I found an interesting article linked from GoNintendo, an op-ed piece asking if Nintendo's long-time luminary Shigeru Miyamoto should consider retirement. The author's main issue is user-generated content and how Miyamoto is focusing on it to the exclusion of original content. He cites the underwhelming Wii Music as an example of Miyamoto expecting the players to create their own experience around a lackluster game "kit." He also calls Miyamoto arrogant for saying that gamers just "didn't understand" Wii Music.

I wouldn't go so far as to call the man arrogant, but I agree that Nintendo's design philosophy has gotten lazy as of late. They've stopped being creative and have fallen completely into the habit of recycling old franchises and publishing tech demo collections like Wii Sports and Wii Music. Even then, they haven't released new versions of their lesser known series like StarFox, F-Zero and Earthbound. A lot of fans want something completely new or at least an underused IP like a new Kid Icarus, but then we run into the issue of profitability. If Nintendo can be lazy and make a killing off of Wii Fit, why spend the money and hard work for their dedicated fanbase anymore? In my opinion they're falling into the Apple mentality--make trendy, expensive products that look nice and confer social status but offer reduced functionality compared to the competition, and thus are cheaper to develop and manufacture. This might work while Nintendo's motion controls are the only game in town, but once the 360 Natal and PS3 Wand show up things could change quickly.

In any case I think Nintendo needs some new blood. Miyamoto might have his hand in a lot of projects but as a developer Nintendo doesn't own a lot of dedicated studios and dev teams the way Microsoft has MS Game Studios, Lionhead and Rare. I don't necessarily think Miyamoto needs to retire but Nintendo shouldn't rely on him alone to deliver their flagship software the way they've been doing for the last couple decades. Miyamoto might be a genius but there are plenty of bright young developers coming up the pike with exciting new ideas, and with Miyamoto as their guide they could be just as revolutionary as he was. Nintendo should put the surplus cash from the Wii's popularity to work by hiring some of them.