Home Gaming Nintendo’s bosses “do not really understand modern gaming”

Nintendo’s bosses “do not really understand modern gaming”

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It's a me...what'sa my name again?

I love Nintendo. I love them to the point that when I get accused of being an Xbox fanboy, I get sad because I’m secretly biased to the house of Mario and Luigi. Crap, shouldn’t have printed that. But I have to admit, Nintendo has made some baffling decisions in the last couple of years. Decisions which are backwards, and hinder the company going forward. And that’s due to the inner workings of the company, which just doesn’t get it. Man.

Speaking to Dromble, former Nintendo executive Dan Adelman explained how Nintendo’s traditional company structure had resulted in a culture with no firm decision-making.

“They’re very traditional, and very focused on hierarchy and group decision making,” Adelman said of the company’s structure.

Unfortunately, that creates a culture where everyone is an advisor and no one is a decision maker – but almost everyone has veto power. Even Mr. Iwata is often loathe to make a decision that will alienate one of the executives in Japan.

That’s also all due to the company being Kyoto-based, a system of business that places strong emphasis on tradition. To get anything done at Nintendo, Adelman said that much prep work was needed, bringing in various groups to help sell an idea. A process which was harder for folks outside of Japan, as this would have to be repeated at several levels.

“All of this is not necessarily a bad thing, though it can be very inefficient and time consuming,” Adelman said.

The biggest risk is that at any step in that process, if someone flat out says no, the proposal is as good as dead. So in general, bolder ideas don’t get through the process unless they originate at the top.

But one of the bigger issues, comes from the fact that the senior executives are all veterans of the glory days of Nintendo, and have yet to understand how the industry has moved forward since those days.

“The most senior executives at the company cut their teeth during NES and Super NES days and do not really understand modern gaming, so adopting things like online gaming, account systems, friends lists, as well as understanding the rise of PC gaming has been very slow,” Adelman explained.

Ideas often get shut down prematurely just because some people with the power to veto an idea simply don’t understand it. There is very little reason to try and push these ideas. Risk taking is generally not really rewarded. Long-term loyalty is ultimately what gets rewarded, so the easiest path is simply to stay the course.

I highly recommend reading the rest of the interview, as it provides some great insight into the mindset of Nintendo. On the one hand, I understand the need to retain culture, and create products that keep in line with the quality experiences of the past. But on the other hand, I’m a firm believer in not being a slave to tradition. Tradition is essentially, the unnecessary baggage of the past. And with a massive pool of talent from around the world that is just waiting to be properly used, Nintendo needs to break free of the older way of thinking.

Last Updated: January 22, 2015

46 Comments

  1. They don’t understand the need for chargers either

    Reply

    • Justin Dloski

      January 22, 2015 at 16:11

      Because as we have seen, power is everything, right? LOL. Moron.

      Reply

  2. Blood Emperor Trevor

    January 22, 2015 at 11:36

    That header image… 2 OVGs? O_o

    Reply

    • RinceThis

      January 22, 2015 at 11:44

      You utter cur. I was about to say that…

      Reply

      • Blood Emperor Trevor

        January 22, 2015 at 11:46

        You can still say it if you like. You’ll just look silly if you do now. ;P

        Reply

        • ToshZA

          January 22, 2015 at 11:46

          How is that different from him saying it first? 😛

          Reply

          • Blood Emperor Trevor

            January 22, 2015 at 11:46

            I was being nice.

          • RinceThis

            January 22, 2015 at 11:47

            You shut up!

      • Quo Vadis?

        January 22, 2015 at 12:35

        I almost read “cur” as something else x_x

        Reply

  3. Mandom (Umar)

    January 22, 2015 at 11:36

    imo, tradition is not a bad a thing. When you find YOURSELF, bound to it however, that’s when things go south. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy…Is modern gaming, more so the industry, that good? I understand Nintendo isn’t in the best position, but look at this industry? It’s not that great, honestly, I find myself more and more disconnected from the industry as a whole. That said, Nintendo are so F**** backwards though, they need to find a way to hold on to their values while moving forward…It’s painful sometimes to see how they’re going about doing things.

    Reply

    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      January 22, 2015 at 11:39

      Change is inevitable, so it has to be managed.

      Reply

      • Mandom (Umar)

        January 22, 2015 at 11:43

        Yup, you don’t have to change what you believe in though. It’s like they’re fighting against it.

        Reply

        • Blood Emperor Trevor

          January 22, 2015 at 11:45

          Actually that should also be open to the possibility of change, generally speaking & excluding obvious things like “don’t murder 1000’s of people for fun”. Otherwise you just end up being close-minded.

          Reply

          • Mandom (Umar)

            January 22, 2015 at 11:49

            Fair point. You have to take everything in though. As you said, there should a possibility to change, most important thing is to open to all possibilities, but I still think Nintendo, at it’s core still has some good ideas and values, they’re just, stuck in their ways which is a shame/

          • Kaihaku

            January 22, 2015 at 17:37

            To be fair, Nintendo is changing…just slowly. I’ve been impressed with how much their online infrasture has improved this generation (patches, dlc, unified accounts, digital full size games, Miiverse, etc) even though they still have a long way to do (like having more than two first party titles with robust online multiplayer, digital purchases tied to account not hardware, cross-buy, and so on).

      • Jaded_Reprobate

        January 22, 2015 at 11:52

        i read that: Charge is inevitable

        for no specific reason

        Reply

        • Blood Emperor Trevor

          January 22, 2015 at 11:55

          Not if you’re buying a new 3DS, or whatever that silly handheld is called heh.

          Reply

  4. Ryanza

    January 22, 2015 at 11:42

    Modern gaming is about the advancement of gaming engines, graphics, AI, story telling.
    Modern gaming is not about about online gaming, account systems, friend lists, and all that modern war shit.

    Baynonetta 2 Wii U exclusive, Hell Yes, all the way to the top baby.

    Don’t fuck with old school. Old school knows their shit. New school just knows how to fuck it up.

    Don’t Support DRM.

    Reply

    • ToshZA

      January 22, 2015 at 11:45

      It’s official. The Witcher 3’s innovations are cancelled, and Cyberpunk 2077 will play like an 80’s side scroller. Because fuck new school.

      Reply

      • Ryanza

        January 22, 2015 at 11:48

        CD Projekt RED has improved their gaming engine, graphics, AI and story telling (open world game, still have to see on that one). NO DRM.
        So CD Projekt RED is focusing on improving the right things.

        Reply

        • ToshZA

          January 22, 2015 at 11:52

          Crysis kept improving on all but story telling. By Crysis 3 you wanted to just gtfo.

          That’s not innovation. That’s not progress. That’s just selling out.

          Innovation doesn’t have to be ALL THE THINGS. It can be just one small thing. Shadow of Mordor for instance – the only thing really new was the Nemesis system. But it worked, and it made the game truly awesome. Without that it was just another generic copy of other great games.

          Don’t be too narrow minded. 🙂

          Reply

          • Ryanza

            January 22, 2015 at 12:05

            Crytek games are more tech demos. I’m sure they make their money from their gaming engine than the games.

            Shadow of Mordor was not that great. Repetitive is the word that comes to mind when thinking about Shadow of Mordor. So not the best example to use.

          • ToshZA

            January 22, 2015 at 12:08

            I’m loving it. A lot. And since it won game of the year almost everywhere, I tend to think it’s actually a perfect example.

          • Ryanza

            January 22, 2015 at 12:13

            Shadow of Mordor didn’t get game of the year because it was a great game. It got game of the year because all the games were shit in 2014. There was like no stand out game in 2014.

            The game play can be fun, repetitive but it was ok. The story was ok, i guess. But that’s really all it had.

          • ToshZA

            January 22, 2015 at 12:15

            Transistor, Child of Light, Far Cry 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition. And those are just 4 PC games that easily were contenders. It beat those out, and I can see why.

            You are pro-Nintendo then I think, because obviously you’re as oblivious to innovation as they are.

      • Blood Emperor Trevor

        January 22, 2015 at 11:52

        I’d probably play that.

        Reply

        • ToshZA

          January 22, 2015 at 11:52

          Truth be told, me too XD

          Reply

    • Justin Dloski

      January 22, 2015 at 16:12

      Thank you.

      Reply

  5. Blood Emperor Trevor

    January 22, 2015 at 11:43

    Wow. Reading those quotes it sounds like he’s talking about my company, and we’re not Japanese. Shitty management is shitty.

    Reply

  6. Hammersteyn

    January 22, 2015 at 11:43

    Yeah, they are a bit behind the times.

    Reply

    • ToshZA

      January 22, 2015 at 11:48

      I really don’t enjoy this guy. Nor PewDiePie.

      Reply

    • Mandom (Umar)

      January 22, 2015 at 11:51

      Not just Nintendo. So many companies are doing this. It really irks me.

      Reply

      • Blood Emperor Trevor

        January 22, 2015 at 12:05

        It’s like he said, risk taking is not rewarded.

        Our big boss was down in CT a couple of years ago unveiling his big goal to double the company’s revenue. His plan on how to achieve that was by doing the exact same thing we do now & changing nothing. Guess what happened? Nothing.

        Reply

        • Quo Vadis?

          January 22, 2015 at 12:33

          Sheesh…. deja vu. When I consulted for an SOC, we would have these planning weekends to “streamline and knock into shape to turn around service delivery”. We would have these 3 times a year. Each and every agenda had the same problems of the previous 9 years. When I suggested that they should link turnaround to monetary values, deadlines and accountability, I was accused of being a “capitalistic racist”. 2 months later, my contract was cancelled.

          Reply

          • Blood Emperor Trevor

            January 22, 2015 at 12:55

            One year they got the entire branch out of the office for the whole to talk about that kind of stuff, and the big boss unveiled his strategy. A year later all the big bosses had a strategy meeting in Europe and their big take away was that… they didn’t have a strategy & needed to devise one. But… a year ago we all got together & he had a strategy? What? O_O much confuse.

          • Quo Vadis?

            January 22, 2015 at 13:00

            I hate talkers without action. If there is a problem, brainstorm on how to fix it. No strategy? Devise one. The best thing you can do, is make the right choice. The second best thing you can do, is make the wrong choice. The worst thing you can do, is to do nothing.

  7. RinceThis

    January 22, 2015 at 11:44

    Been saying this for ages.

    Reply

  8. Admiral Chief

    January 22, 2015 at 11:48

    Reminds me of OVG’s old avatar…

    Reply

  9. hairyknees

    January 22, 2015 at 12:03

    That header xD

    Reply

  10. Ottokie

    January 22, 2015 at 12:07

    Just got myself a Boxed Nintendo N64 and Sega mega Drive 2, just to go and experience once again what gaming was 😛

    Reply

  11. Anon A Mouse

    January 22, 2015 at 12:08

    You have the same problem in the motor industry. Innovation from the Japanese brands are very hard to do, unless it’s something electronic. Anything else takes a lot of convincing to do.

    Reply

  12. Pieter Kruger

    January 22, 2015 at 12:27

    Haven’t these Japanese companies seen The Last Samurai?? It’s over, move on!

    Reply

  13. Kaihaku

    January 22, 2015 at 17:32

    There’s no question that Nintendo needs to adopt certain modern industry standards (accessible SDKs for third party developers, robust online infrastructure, more strategic game development, major game releases more than once a quarter, etc) but I’m not convinced that their conservative approach is purely negative. There are some upsides to focusing on releasing quality gaming experiences even if they are offer only iterative improvements.

    Also, I have to say that for a company that’s culture does not reward risk taking (look at what happened to Gunpei Yokoi after the Virtual Boy), Nintendo has a habit of taking some pretty odd risks due to internal mismanagement/miscommunication.

    The Wii U is a great example – I think that either a Wii HD (identical to the Wii U but cheaper due to no gamepad) or a Super Wii (processing power closer to the PS4/Xbone) would have sold great, instead Nintendo released the Wii U. Nintendo itself has barely used the gamepad compellingly and, from marketing to software prioritization, Nintendo clearly has no idea what the target audience of the Wii U is…so now they’ve fallen back on their high quality first party exclusives…which would have sold any system that they appeared on. So, in the end, what was the point of the gamepad? Where is the software that delivers on the promise of revolutionary new gameplay? Trust me, it’s not cockpit controls in Star Fox Wii U. Instead of taking the software risks to justify their hardware gamble, Nintendo is instead buckling down and delivering a flood of high quality platformers, party games, and their standard first party exclusives. In my opinion, all Nintendo needed to do was release one game with robust online multiplayer and video chat on the second screen – suddenly the gamepad is justified and third party developers have an easy way to integrate it into their games.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of dual screen gaming especially for asynchronous co-op, strategy games, RPGs, and video chatting but I think that Nintendo has really squandered their opportunity to use it as a selling point for the Wii U.

    Reply

  14. Rugga

    January 22, 2015 at 19:14

    You can’t rely on nostalgia and mascots forever Nintendo.

    Reply

  15. yienwae

    January 22, 2015 at 20:02

    Nintendos challenge is not understanding ‘western gaming’. If they allow NOA to be more of an influence, this could help. But I also see the west as being arrogant in thinking they are the ‘know all, say all’ when it comes to gaming & everything else is considered either weird or unacceptable because it does not fall in their line of thinking or reasoning (i.e. GTA is considered cool & acceptable but Love Plus is considered weird & socially wrong). The challenge for Nintendo is making great games & social media that caters to all without it tarnishing it’s beliefs about what gaming is to them.

    Reply

  16. Poop Poopy

    January 22, 2015 at 21:19

    As expected, the idiots and retards flock to defend a company whose business practices make no fucking sense and who can’t even meet demand for their own fucking products, or make a competent online infrastructure, or anything else. STFU

    Reply

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