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Wii Businesses Nintendo

Nintendo's Iwata Says Old Console Cycle Dead 245

Posted by Zonk
from the wiimote-through-the-heart dept.
1up is reporting on comments from Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, who has offered up the opinion that the four-year console cycle is a thing of the past. Instead, he says, companies should look to iterate on their hardware when an opportunity presents itself. "Launches should depend on when it can signify a major shift in entertainment, or when they have done everything possible with the current hardware. He also says that scheduling the successor to current hardware on a 4-year life cycle without paying attention to changes in the market 'appears to be too inflexible an approach to us.' This isn't to say that the company doesn't have eyes on the future. 'We need to forecast what the future will be like with the expected evolution of new technologies which are available at any given time, and try to identify the so-called 'sweet spot' of technology over the next few years,' he said."
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Nintendo's Iwata Says Old Console Cycle Dead

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  • Shown Already? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlphaDrake (1104357) * on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:10PM (#21246251) Homepage
    I believe this has been proven already.

    Nintendo has had the habit of short console-lives if you start with the NES (Yes, consoles do predate it, but this is a simplified view.) It was released in 1983, overtaken by the Super Nintendo in 1990 (Lasting 7 years). Next was the N64 in 1996 (making the Super Nintendo last 6 years), next was the Gamecube in 2001 (N64 life span: 5 years). And finally the Wii in 2006 (Gcube life: 5 years).

    However if you look at Sony, the original playstation was released in 1994, not overtaken by the PS2 untill 2000 (6 year life). And then by the PS3 in 2007 (7 year life).

    Arguably, Sony has/had the majority market with the Playstation 2, I believe part of its popularity was the fact that it became so cheap, with no changes, that anybody could have one, and play games together. Something PC gaming lacks if you do not keep your pc up to date.

    And you must also take into consideration, games can only get as realistic as real life. It's one thing to go from Super Mario Brothers on the NES to Crysis, but Crysis to real life won't be that big of a jump. And when graphics/physics/AI get as good as real life, there is no major drive for a new console for "next-gen" games, they won't be able to get any better (gameplay aside for this arguement). It is also taking us longer to increase realism, thus the life of consoles will be extended (if you can understand my ramblings).
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Walpurgiss (723989)
      Makes sense; as we closer approach realistic graphics and physics, the demand for hardware advances in those areas will decrease because there is less room to grow. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, and once hardware is able to render reality realistically, there's no need to improve it until some other facet of ultra-realism is discovered to implement.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by feepness (543479)
        Squeaky wheel gets the grease, and once hardware is able to render reality realistically, there's no need to improve it until some other facet of ultra-realism is discovered to implement. The problem is that we've moved from NTSC to 1080 HD the number of pixels has risen by several times. So it's not just displaying realistic stuff, it's displaying it on 6 or 7 times the screen area at 60 fps that is the challenge.
        • by timeOday (582209)
          Higher resolution is just more of the same. Moore's law solves that almost automatically.
      • by gmezero (4448) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:03PM (#21248547) Homepage
        Look, I think this is a statement that is being made to frame expectations on a DS sequal, and handle potential attacks on the Wii as well.

        As you can see here [gamezero.com] I have been tracking the release cycles of all of the Nintendo platforms, and Nintendo has some pretty strong behavioral trends built up over the last 30 years.

        Historically, a new console is release every 5 years and a new hand-held ever 10 years, with experimental platforms and incremental upgrades in-between (Virtual Boy, DS).

        If the DS becomes the new "handheld" line as many expected but Nintendo has denied then it's in for a 10 year life cycle. Note that they still have not identified the DS as an upgrade/replacement for the GBA line which still commands some sales (GB Micro, etc...), so they're going to be careful not to cannibalize any remaining sales in that market.

        Also, it's only a matter of time before Microsoft or Sony takes a direct attack on the Wii as literally being beefed up GameCube hardware in as a marketing attack since it has taken off so well. Unfortunately for them the Wii is strong with every other demographic of consumer, and if this does happen, I don't see it getting them far outside the gaming press.

        You've got to step back and take a look at the big picture of what is said and the greater context of other statements and general behavior.

        Granted Nintendo is slowly making changes structurally since Iwata took over as would be expected, but this is also a company that has been in business for over a hundred years, so they're internal culture and business strategies are clearly working for them to some degree.

        Also, I think the Wii has yet to hit it's stride yet in development exploitation of it's features. Given that it's really lost a year of ground here, it could be that Nintendo is actively assessing the idea of letting the hardware dev cycle slip by a year or two with the Wii. Additionally, they're probably also trying to assess how to expand DS sales at the critical 6 year mark when normally they would be issuing a mid-level system improvement that doesn't effect platform compatibility (eg, GameBoy Color).

        Oh well, I'm just rambling, it's all good.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Grave (8234)
          Uhm.. actually, the GBA has been discontinued, and most retailers are either no longer carrying or will soon stop carrying GBA games. I believe Nintendo announced not long ago that the DS was their primary handheld platform now, and the developers all seem to have decided that for themselves over a year ago anyway. The Game Boy Micro did not, as I understand, sell very well at all in the US compared with the GBA SP. In Japan this may not have been the case, though. Any future handheld platform will almo
    • Re:Shown Already? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bert64 (520050) <bertNO@SPAMslashdot.firenzee.com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:28PM (#21246533) Homepage
      Microsoft's console life is considerably less, the xbox was replaced by the 360 fairly quickly, and there are virtually no new xbox titles coming out. I still see titles for the PS2 coming out all the time tho.

      An old PC is also very cheap (if not free), but you won't be able to play modern games on it, can still be fun for older games. There are still new games being made for the PS2 but they lack the graphical detail of PS3 titles.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dintech (998802)
        The reason games will come out for the PS2 for some time is the global installed base. It's huge. Old PC hardware is dropped for various reasons outside of gaming so there is no point supporting it. The original xbox was not as successful as the ps2 so that explains some of that...
    • And when graphics/physics/AI get as good as real life
      Citation needed that this will happen within the next four generations, especially the intelligence part. Specifically, will the NPCs in Animal Crossing IX be able to say more than about four weeks worth of scripted conversations? Or will they be able to understand the letters I send them more than simply scanning for the presence or absence of predefined keywords?
      • by Toonol (1057698)
        You're right, but I think the grandparent post was wrong in linking graphics/physics/AI together. Graphics quality depends greatly on hardware, while the sad AI in current games is primarily a software issue.

        I know that some designers have claimed that the increased power of the PS3 and 360 allow better AI, but I don't buy it. I think AI is written up to the level of barely adequate, and then all further resources (both hardware and human) are put towards graphics.

        So, yes, I agree we're decades away
    • I see your point... though I feel compelled to tell you that the PS3 was launched in 2006... it was 3 days prior to the Wii release IIRC.
    • And finally the Wii in 2006 (Gcube life: 5 years).

      And then by the PS3 in 2007 (7 year life).
      Just a small correction, but PS3 was launched before the wii in 2006, not 2007.
      • by NeMon'ess (160583) *
        The GP is saying the PS3 overtook the PS2 this year. Though that's debatable. Also the PS2 didn't overtake the PS1 until 2001, given the huge shortages in 2000.
    • Are you saying the PS3 have overtaken the PS2 or the original Playstation in 2007?

      Because if it's the former, I have some news for you: the PS2 is still outselling the PS3.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      games can only get as realistic as real life.

      You're assuming that "realism" is a hard line that can never be crossed. But if that's the case, why do movie directors constantly spend money on special effects, instead of just filming stuff happening in real life?

      It's one thing to go from Super Mario Brothers on the NES to Crysis, but Crysis to real life won't be that big of a jump.

      You think so? I don't. I remember thinking exactly the same thing about Doom - whoa man, this is real proper 3D and all, how ca

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        You wait; 14 years from now, you'll look back at Crysis and wonder how you ever thought it looked remotely realistic.

        The first time I saw the Crysis DX10 ultra detail screenshot I thought it was a photo. It took a closer inspection and looking at the URL to realise what it was. If you honestly saw Doom and wondered how games could get more realistic, you have problems.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bartoku (922448)

      Nintendo has had the habit of short console-lives....However if you look at Sony...

      I will conjecture that the Nintendo's console release time frames were forced by competition.
      The SNES release was fairly delayed (the NES was doing fine and SMB3 was hugely anticipated) and finally came out to trump the Genesis' success.
      The N64 was late to the game, the PlayStation had a huge jump on it.
      Again the Gamecube was late, being trumped by the PS2.
      Finally the Wii was a year behind the 360 but finally matched Sony, in

    • > games can only get as realistic as real life.

      And that is a good thing???

      As a game dev, we stay AWAY from realism,
      - graphics wise because it is more important to have a unique style / look. When every game has the photorealistic look, it becomes much harder for your game to stand out.
      - gameplay wise because for the most part it is NOT fun.

      IF we are going for realism, we end up with simulators. While those can be fun, the majority of people do not find them "fun".

      Shooters tend to push the visual realis
      • by Nazlfrag (1035012)
        Indeed, in most ways it is better to present an alternate reality than attempting to emulate it. Realism can suck the life out of games, and imposes constraints not inherent in the medium. Something like Katamari Damacy shows what you can achieve by leaving reality behind. It is akin to a documentary vs. a dramatisation - even though the documentary strives for 100% accuracy a fictionalised dramatisation tells a better story and is more appealing and engrossing for most people.
  • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:13PM (#21246275) Journal
    the consumer. Remember - as a consumer, it's your job to buy stuff, you are not a customer and the company owes you nothing except to take your money! Gotta love modern economy.

    *ahem*

    Translation 1: New hardware should be more frequet, milk them for all they are worth by making them buy more systems and software.

    Translation 2: New hardware should be less frequent - it's coming out too often now, and it's really making the customers turn away from consoles.

    I wonder which translation he is using?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I read his statement as "we know that the Wii's graphics will look absolutely dated vs the 360's and PS3's in 2 years or so", and that they want to prepare everyone for releasing a new set of hardware earlier than everyone else, out of cycle.

      Now I say that as a person who bought a Wii for the gameplay and not the graphics, and I don't really have a problem with that. In a few years we'll get a deal similar with the Wii, updated graphics power for a lower cost than everyone else by using smaller and cheaper
      • I read his statement as "we know that the Wii's graphics will look absolutely dated vs the 360's and PS3's in 2 years or so",
        You didn't read his statement at all. He was talking about the DS [aussie-nintendo.com] for a start.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SetupWeasel (54062)
        You are wrong. Why would Nintendo bail on the the most popular handheld and home console this generation?

        I think that he is mostly talking about not updating the DS. The DS would be "due" for the introduction of its successor next year for a 2009 launch. I don't see that happening.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by king-manic (409855)

        I read his statement as "we know that the Wii's graphics will look absolutely dated vs the 360's and PS3's in 2 years or so", and that they want to prepare everyone for releasing a new set of hardware earlier than everyone else, out of cycle.

        In two years? It's already pretty dated. Compare any multi platform game. They just banked on enough people not caring or too new to video games to know better. Some of the graphics like RE4 or Zelda actually hurt my eyes on an HD set if I haven't slept enough. I hear Metroid does it better, but I'm still not certain if the Wii heralds the end to gaming as I enjoy it or will be the next mainstream platform.

        So far the games are either retreats with "waggle" replacing "button mash", or "tedious mini games" c

        • Try PC gaming. It gave up on gimmicks years ago.
        • by seebs (15766)
          The "waggle" is a myth; good games don't have any "waggle" replacing button mash, they have slick and well-integrated controls.

          "Waggle" is just something you see in shovelware, and has nothing to do with the console.

          I dunno. I just don't get all the complaints about the graphics; I was running my Wii on a 1080p set and it looked livable to me. As sharp as the PS3? No. But then, my playstation gaming these days consists of FF12. Graphics can go do anatomically improbable things; I want games that are fu
    • Well, Nintendo has been historically a company known to twist logic in less predictable ways.

      E.g., back when the Playstation had more games coming out per year than the N64 had over its whole life, Yamauchi was giving interviews saying that it's Sony who will go bankrupt by releasing that many games.

      E.g., back when people complained that whole genres, e.g., RPGs, had gone missing from the N64 for years, Yamauchi gave an insulting interview in which he called RPG players, "depressed gamers who like to sit al
  • Personally, I didn't like any of the systems of this generation. PS3 was too expensive, and doesn't have a lot of games. Xbox360 dies on you. I'm not the type that would like the Wiimote controller.

    Unless a MMOG or competitive game(besides Halo3, FPS were meant for the mouse) comes out on console, I'll just stick with PC gaming.
    • by _xeno_ (155264)

      Xbox360 dies on you.

      The Wii can too. That's when I knew Nintendo really was going to be a player in this generation, when I had to ship my Wii back for replacement under warranty.

      (OK, it didn't actually die, but it did start showing a lot of graphical corruption. I can't say exactly what's wrong, but the warranty repair indicated that the "main board" had to be replaced.)

      • The Wii can too. That's when I knew Nintendo really was going to be a player in this generation, when I had to ship my Wii back for replacement under warranty.

        My first one had a defective drive, I opted for an exchange instead of a 3 week warranty replacement and lost $20 on the virtual console store stuff. Nintendo told me to fuck myself too when I inquired about a credit or refund (within 24h of the actual purchase). I will never buy anything from Wii shopping again. Xbox live is also a pain, I've been attempting to remove my Credit card from my friends Xbox after I bought him an expansion without him registering another card. No luck yet. I hear tech support

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by _xeno_ (155264)

          Remember when you activated the Shop Channel and they made you read through the agreement and it said that, if you need to replace the unit, you must replace it through Nintendo if you want to keep your Wii Shop points and downloads? And they made you agree to that several times, and pointed it out several times?

          Well - they meant it. If you wanted to keep your Wii Shop points and downloads, you needed to send the unit back to Nintendo. As a plus, they also copy all your settings and save data over to the

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by king-manic (409855)

            I really can't fault Nintendo for your failure to read their terms and conditions. You did agree to them, since you can't use the Wii Shop channel without reading them and agreeing to them.

            I declare I will hence forth not buy from the online shop due to the "go fuck yourself" more so then the actual $20. I did read it, I asked if an exception could be made as it was withing 24h, I could associated my credit card again and i had recipes of everything (the same mynintendo.com ID was associated with both). The Customer service person sent me a reply stating games were non transferable, with some condescending remarks like yours and a link back to the terms. In turn I vowed never to buy from the

            • by Nazlfrag (1035012)
              You're telling me a giant corporation didn't make an exception to their policies for you... well colour me shocked. Obviously you forgot to tell them how you were a unique and special snowflake, and that they must bend to your will because you were too impatient to get your replacement from them.
    • by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope.gmail@com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:30PM (#21246563) Homepage Journal
      No offense, but your argument against this gen is crap.

      PS3 was too expensive, and doesn't have a lot of games
      PS2's launch library was crap initially too. The PS3's price is coming down.

      Xbox360 dies on you
      So did the PSX's laser, for those of us who remember. Later, the hardware got better.

      I'm not the type that would like the Wiimote controller [my emphasis]
      As in a human being?;) At least try it before you decide you don't like it. I didn't think I would like sashimi either, but it is yummy.

      Now, if you'd wanted to MS's pay-for-multiplayer system or the lack of any coherent system on Wii/PS3, that's one thing. But you dislike two systems based on incidental qualities, won't even try the 3rd, and throw up your hands and say that's it?
      • Oh, c'mon, the PS3 price complaints are legitimate. Sure, its price is coming down -- after a year -- but it's still more expensive than many people feel comfortable spending on a gaming console, and probably will be for quite a while, at which it may be just too late for Sony to really turn things around (no install base, no games!).
        • Isn't the 40GB model $399? The same price that the 360 was a year after launch? I think price has become a moot point now.

          And for my anti-fanboy credit I own a 360 and Wii but no PS3.
          • by 7Prime (871679)
            No, it's $499. Everyone likes to fudge $100 this way or that, but the models are basically $500 and $600
    • Here's your competitive console game: Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii uses the controller in a more or less traditional fashion. You can hold the Wii Remote sideways like you do for NES games on Virtual Console, or you can use Remote + Nunchuk, or you can use the GameCube pad or Classic Controller. It wouldn't work well on a typical PC running Windows because most PCs running Windows aren't connected to monitors large enough to fit four people around them.

    • FYI: I use the classic controller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wii_Classic_Controller#Classic_Controller) for most of my Wii games.
  • Isn't computer tech fairly predictable making an even cycle very comfy?
    • Moore's law is based on changes in the size and cost of transistors on the chip. We're a bit beyond that now... As such, his "law" isn't nearly as applicable and technology cycles aren't nearly as predictable.

      Plus, that's part of the point. Do we really need a console that's twice as fast for the same cost but doesn't bring anything new to the table? Wouldn't it be better to say, wait 6 years and get a console that's marginally faster than the one that would've come out at the 4 year mark but adds a *t

  • by Bullfish (858648) on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:17PM (#21246367)
    How many consoles does the average gamer now own? In the past when they had one or none, a new console would have been more attractive. Now, with saturation being what it is... you can keep on playing the older systems until there is something about the new system that compels you to buy it. If you have no high def TV for example, there isn't a lot to recommend either the PS3 or 360 over their predecessors. A killer exclusive might help (ala Halo 3), but that depends on the individual. It's all relative really, but I expect the adoption rates to get slower and slower.
    • by cromar (1103585)
      I am aware I am not representative, but I still play my SMS, NES, and SNES as my main consoles. There're still games I never got to play when I was young, and, by Jove, I just can't get enough of those 2D platformers... Mario Bros. 3 for life :)
  • by ProppaT (557551) on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:27PM (#21246511) Homepage

    I think that the most important reason why the old console cycle needs to die is to let programmers/software catch up with the hardware. Sure, you put enough people on a project and you can crank out a PS3 game in enough time; however, if the game is a flop, it could be a disaster for the studio. On the other hand a developer could put out a game on a console that takes less time and money to develop for (such as the Wii and handhelds) and there's not as much risk involved with taking chances. In Nintendo case they're actually encouraging studios to start and take chances. Years down the road when the road has been paved for super high end graphic consoles and software has caught up to the point where it's affordable to actually make the jump.

    After all, the real race over the years, weather people want to own up to it or not, has been a software race rather than a hardware race. It hasn't so much been about what the hardware so much as what developers can squeeze out of it.

    Nintendo, imho, is basically telling developers "Look, you know all those development tools you spent years tweaking for the Gamecube? Well, here's your chance to actually use all of them. BTW, here's our tools while you're at it." It's feasible that the programming team could actually create the frame of the game while the actual details are still being developed. It's definitely a shift in the industry that we haven't seen since the days of 2d gaming. It's the reason why portable gaming has been so healthy over the years. I'm personally excited about the doors this might open for the industry and I definitely hope that Nintendo in fact does ignore the console cycle until consumers demand they need more power.
    • I think that the most important reason why the old console cycle needs to die is to let programmers/software catch up with the hardware.

      I agree. I remember the first time I fired up Final Fantasy XII. I was blown away by how good it looked compared to the other PS2 games I've played. It wasn't until the end of the PS2's life cycle that developers were finally able to use the hardware to its fullest.

      But then again, it doesn't say much for the PS2 as a development platform if it took developers that long to figure out how to get the most from it.

  • by night_flyer (453866) on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:31PM (#21246577) Homepage
    DRAM Makers Suffer Due to Lackluster Vista Adoption [slashdot.org], The Dying PC Market [slashdot.org], and this story?

    People arent adopting as fast as tech is pumping out. People dont like to change for change sake. As the popular saying goes, if it ain't broke, why fix it?
  • by nweaver (113078) on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:53PM (#21246855) Homepage
    One possible translation: Watch the HDTV Transition...

    Sony and Microsoft leaped ahead, probably ahead of the game, on the output resolution. Its too good (read "costs too much") for what is currently out there.

    Nintendo did not. They went cheap and new UI, which has proven to be a win.

    But I'd bet that Nintendo really is eyeing the HDTV transition for "Wii 2.0". They are probably taking a page from Apple and keeping it as stealthy as possible (why hurt sales on the Wii 1.0?), and waiting until 42" HDTVs become common (probably after this christmas) before releasing a performance and graphics bump designed to take advantage of the new output resolution.
    • by Toonol (1057698)
      I think you're spot on, although I think the sweet spot for HD transition is probably not this Christmas, but a year from now. There's still a lot of people that don't care enough about picture quality to pay close to a thousand dollars for it. I won't bother with it until it gets down to at least sub $500, and I'm comfortably middle-class.
      • by AuMatar (183847)
        Most people aren't going to bother with it until their current TV breaks. Its not worth the money to replace it for a minor quality improvement. Don't expect HD to be a majority of the marketshare until 2010 at the earliest, possibly later.
        • by jmorris42 (1458) *
          > Most people aren't going to bother with it until their current TV breaks.

          That is part of it, part is availability of content.

          If somebody dropped a 1080p TV on my doorstep with a bow on it I'd only be using it to watch SD content. To get HD programming would require more than doubling my cable bill and losing the ability to use my current MythTV setup. With a really over the top outdoor antenna I could pick up ONE signal reliably and perhaps three at night. Or I could go with DirectTV's HD offering or
  • by rlp (11898)
    My expectation is that Nintendo will 'refresh' the Wii in a year or so by increasing the CPU / Graphical processing power (taking advantage of Moore's Law), adding a HDMI interface, and DVD video playback support. DVD player capability has already been announced for the Japanese market (combining two home gadgets) but doesn't really matter elsewhere. Adding support for higher-res display format (and up-sampling) will negate the graphical advantage of Sony / MS. Bottom line -- Nintendo already has a big wi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by VGPowerlord (621254)
      Changing the CPU or graphics ability on a shipping console is a colosally bad idea. The entire idea of a console is that you have a fixed set of hardware that run games in roughly the same way. Oh, you may have HDMI here or have the game installed to disk there, but the processing power remains the same.
  • by Kris_J (10111) * on Monday November 05, 2007 @06:55PM (#21247637) Journal
    You can't really talk about how good an idea this is, or not, without referencing the Sega 32X.
    • 1988: Genesis/ Mega Drive
    • 1992: Sega CD / Mega CD
    • 1994: 32X
    The Mega CD and 32X were a pair of incremental upgrades to the popular Mega Drive system. They allowed Sega to hook into the capacity of the CD storage, then into the upcoming 3D movement. They were, however, typically considered failures. Much like movie sequels, the market for each new product is a sub-set of the purchasers of the previous. Because of this, games developers were reluctant to invest in the production of titles that had diminishing markets and the library of games suffered.
    • Thank you. Anyone arguing that Nintendo will/should release a Wii 2.0 within a year to increase CPU power, memory or offer HDMI needs to be reminded of the 32X. A complete and utter failure which many people - both gaming mags and gamers - thought initially brilliant.
  • Which is what he is talking about. They can release updates to the system that offer something new to the consumer. Making it thinner, support color, adding ports. The thing that stays the same is that they all can run the same games on different hardware. This makes a lot of sense for handhelds, but I don't think it is a great idea if applied to consoles unless he is talking about minor things like updating little things such as the hard drive. When you think of new releases of consoles, it generally

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