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Miyamoto Steps Down As Nintendo Game Design Head 112

Posted by timothy
from the truly-an-american-icon dept.
RobinEggs writes "Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator and producer of the Zelda and Mario franchises among other works, is stepping down at Nintendo. After personally managing Nintendo's blockbuster franchises for ~20 years, Miyamoto said today: 'What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself. Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.'" Update: 12/08 21:35 GMT by T : Note that Nintendo is careful to say that this is not retirement, even if Miyamoto's role at Nintendo changes.
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Miyamoto Steps Down As Nintendo Game Design Head

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  • Sad, then happy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bradmont (513167) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:24PM (#38304778)
    Reading the headline, I was quite sad, but the summary makes me excited for what he's going to come out with! Rock on Miyamoto!
    • by dreemernj (859414) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:39PM (#38305058) Homepage Journal
      I'm kind of excited about what this will mean for Nintendo as a whole as well. There might be brilliant people waiting in the ranks to try their hand at his job. This will make it possible for them to step up and try it out while Miyamoto is still on staff to guide their development (or save their butts).
      • by Anonymous Coward
        That's how Nintendo's development has been working for the past several years. As I understand it, Miyamoto hasn't been the main game designer on any project for a while; he oversees many projects. The news is that he wants to work with fewer projects and with younger developers. Nintendo is well aware that Miyamoto is their powerhouse game designer and is making sure they can still make quality games without him.
    • I read this as "I'm burnt out. I'm tired of the front lines and really just want to play the role of grandpa now. Take up a hobby, mentor some youngsters..."
      • by scubamage (727538) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:25PM (#38305684)
        I say let him, the man has done more than enough for a few lifetimes. He's like the Dickens of video gaming. An Asian perma-smiling Dickens.
        • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:36PM (#38305860)
          Absolutely. This man can be substantially credited with inspiring me as a child to pursue the software engineering career I now enjoy.
          • by datavirtue (1104259) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:51PM (#38306806)

            I hope he writes a book about game design.

          • by Dutch Gun (899105)

            Absolutely. This man can be substantially credited with inspiring me as a child to pursue the software engineering career I now enjoy.

            Yep, I'm a game developer largely because of the influence of his work. Other major influences: Roberta Williams (King's Quest series) and Sid Meier (Civilization), and plenty more I'm missing. And whoever made all those awesome Odyssey II games (my first console).

            Wishing the best of luck to him in whatever he chooses to do, or whatever wisdom he imparts to future game designers.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Him: "What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself"

        You: "I read this as 'I'm burnt out. I'm tired of the front lines and really just want to play the role of grandpa now.'"

        If you want to believe your own narrative based on your own intuition, fine. But there's no particular link between his words and your narrative.

        • Not quite true if you read on...

          "Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small."

          This coupled with other statements regarding "retirement" to me structure a rather specific narrative. Perhaps "burnt out" is a rather strong statement but all the same he's clearly stating he wants to slow down and play the role of the sage elder/grandpa.

          • by timeOday (582209)
            Leaving a big corporation to lead a tiny team of young developers is the opposite of slowing down, creatively at least. Leading 5-year development cycles of huge teams creates many opportunities, but also precludes many others. He wants freedom.

            Yeah, he might just be saying what sounds good, and go live in an RV in rural Arizona with no address and watch satellite TV all day. But that's not what he's saying.

          • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @03:58PM (#38306914)

            "Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small."

            This coupled with other statements regarding "retirement" to me structure a rather specific narrative. Perhaps "burnt out" is a rather strong statement but all the same he's clearly stating he wants to slow down and play the role of the sage elder/grandpa.

            I took it more as evidence that managing huge multi-year projects is not as fun as building something with more immediate turnaround times. Skyward Sword, from what I've heard, is the culmination of a longstanding dream of Miyamoto's to build a Zelda game where you could actually control the sword and shield instead of just mashing thumbs. But it took years to complete, and I bet Miyamoto spent most of that time dealing with management-type work rather than getting into the nitty gritty of creating a game.

            He's a gaming kind of guy, and he's been big on new ideas over the course of his career, so if he gets out of managing huge projects and gets back into designing and making smaller games, I predict an increase in the number of interesting ideas that Nintendo can implement. I heard that Nintendo's share price took a dip on this news, but I think that's only because analysts hadn't really digested this -- sure, if Miyamoto left Nintendo, that'd be bad; but if he's getting back into active game design, that can only be a big plus, in my eyes anyway.

            Cheers,

            • MMM, it sounds similar to when David Attenborough stepped down as "director of programmes" at the BBC. Being a high level boss allows people to have a bigger impact but it's also highly stressful and takes them away from what they really want to be doing with their life.

          • by tehcyder (746570)
            No, I think he's saying that he's tired of being in effect a big project.manager and wants to get back to actual game design.
      • More likely he's grown tired of managing big ass teams and wants to be a game developer rather than a manager.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:26PM (#38304822)

    Nintendo already came out and said he was not stepping down. slashdot is behind like always

    • Yup. Kotaku reported this yesterday as a rumor.. then later reported that he said he wasnt leaving Nintendo... and now Kotaku is running a little editorial about the day Miyamoto did not retire. :)

  • Denied (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:27PM (#38304832)

    Nintendo has apparently already denied this.

    http://spong.com/article/25917/Nintendo-Strongly-Denies-Miyamoto-Retirement

  • ...Michael Bay, James Cameron, George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, then I'll be happy.

  • Debunked (Score:5, Informative)

    by pablo_max (626328) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:28PM (#38304852)
  • Debunked! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Viros (1128445) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:28PM (#38304854)

    http://wii.ign.com/articles/121/1214255p1.html [ign.com]

    Word from Nintendo is that Miyamoto is NOT stepping down and this was a misinterpretation.

  • Nintendo is at a crossroads. The 3DS appears to be bombing, the Wii is sliding into irrelevance, and the Wii-U doesn't look like it's going to be repeating the success of the Wii when it came out. Everyone I know seems to only bust out their Wiis either for a Brawl party or for the newest Zelda\Mario game. I love Nintendo, but it seems like they've gotten back into the funk they were in back in the pre-DS days. I wonder if Miyamoto doesn't see them getting back out.
    • Is this really the case? I'm sure I heard that 3DS sales were looking pretty good

      Yeah, here it is: http://uk.gamespot.com/news/3ds-sales-on-track-to-best-ds-first-year-in-us-6345402 [gamespot.com]

      3DS first-year sales in the US may overtake the DS; 250,000 Wiis sold in the past year. And Skyward Sword rumoured to be the best Zelda game yet.

      Not too sure they're "sliding" anywhere!
      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        They may be looking good compared to other portable game systems - but honestly, the portable game system market is facing tough competition from smartphones and higher-end MP3 players that run smartphone OSes (such as iPod Touch, and the Samsung Galaxy Player series)

        • by Tr3vin (1220548)

          They may be looking good compared to other portable game systems - but honestly, the portable game system market is facing tough competition from smartphones and higher-end MP3 players that run smartphone OSes (such as iPod Touch, and the Samsung Galaxy Player series)

          Yes and no. While there is competition, I'd like to point out that the original DS didn't have that type of competition and did comparatively worse at launch. I suspect the market that has been really latching onto gaming on apple / android devices wouldn't be gaming otherwise.

          The core demographic that Nintendo targets is kids. While some have iPods or phones, many don't. Mobile games have served to expand the market without a sizable impact. The main sales that these new mobile games are going to steal com

          • I think the thing to note is that it didn't do very well until after the price drop. Before the price drop it was more expensive than the cheapest iPod touch, now it's $30 cheaper. This of course makes it a more attractive for parents trying to decide between the two for their kid, plus parents don't have to worry about the 3DS being hooked up to their credit card..... you can of course disable in-app purchasing and app downloads etc on the iPod touch, but I'd be willing to bet there is a pretty decent %
            • It certainly wasn't doing that bad especially given the lack of software and the price.
        • If you're saying it looks bad against the DS then well every single system that has ever existed looks bad in comparison to the DS seeing how it's sold the most units ever for any gaming system. The only people that are upset by the 3DS are douche bag investors who thought it should have instantly killed the DS and became the best system ever within 3 months of launching.
    • I thought they said same thing about the Wii would be irrelevant too? We won't know until release, unless you have a crystal ball.
  • Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.

    He's in the right country for making small things I guess.

  • It's better to burn out than to fade away, Shigeru. Live strong!
  • The worst and best video game news of the week, right here. Hopefully he comes out with another great franchise with some amazing mechanics that are just plain old fun.
  • by identity0 (77976) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:30PM (#38304886) Journal

    http://blog.esuteru.com/archives/5428429.html [esuteru.com]

    I found this page recently, it's scans of a Japanese magazine interview where Hayao Miyazaki (of Ghibli) talks with Shigeru Miyamoto about game ideas. It was in the '90s.

    I don't have time to translate the thing, so maybe someone here could try?

    There's a part where Miyazaki seems to be proposing a open-world game where you could be a WWII pilot flying off on a mission - or stay on the ground and grow potatos until you're captured by the Americans.

    Shigeru's response: "Hmmm"

    I bet he's had to deal with a lot of strange ideas over the years :D

  • Miyamoto-san just 1-up'd [xkcd.com] Nintendo. I'm looking forward to his new venture.

  • by snotclot (836055) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:31PM (#38304928)
    He probably saw minecraft's influence.. as much as he helped totally change gaming by evolving Mario, Link from 2d ORIGINALS with *true* gameplay that has lasted the test of time (SMB1,2,3 & Link to the Past), and then moving Mario, Link into 3D very successfully.. he probably saw that one dev DOES has the power to affect gaming and gameplay (please, not talking about angry birds and crap like that).


    Mr. Miyamoto, please make some cool original stuff like Minecraft did. Blaze the trail !
    • by dward90 (1813520)

      While Minecraft is both good and successful, I haven't yet seen how it has made any significant contributions to gaming as a whole. It may be that your point is that a single developer can make a great product, which is true. However, that has been shown before, and Minecraft's gameplay hasn't made much impact on the market at large, as far as I can tell. Examples of it would be interesting and appreciated, though.

      • Minecraft's biggest impact is in its business model. Independent publishing, pre-release releases to help evolve the game toward a substantially more favorable final, permissive behavior towards modders, etc.. The concept and success of the game in and of itself was a fortunate but largely accidental strike.
        • by dward90 (1813520)

          Thanks for the response. I'd say that the substantive "beta" product is definitely new concept, at least for budget titles. "Indy" has been around a while and modding has been around forever, so I'd it will be interesting to see how much the "beta" aspect of Minecraft matters in the long run. We saw recently that "Version 1.0" didn't mean much, so the release model has essentially been "Release when playable, continue development indefinitely". Have any other games since Minecraft tried this? Have they

          • It is true that "indy" has been around for a while, but next to none as successful as Minecraft. At least with respect to commercial titles, permissive modding did not include reverse engineering binaries for the purpose of hacking and replacing actual game functionality. It has been mostly additive through a plug-in model, or custom levels, skins, etc.. this [youtube.com] sort of thing would never fly. As for "release when playable, continue dev. indefinitly" there have long been so called "expansion packs." However
      • by Bobtree (105901)

        Minecraft is wildly successful because it provides a simple, understandable world model that players can manipulate easily, and a compelling naturalistic procedural environment. It already has a hugely successful imitator in the 2d Terraria (which has probably over a million sales at this point, at less than a year in development, and is regularly in the top 10 games played on Steam). The modding community are already making every kind of playable thing you would build on a base like Minecraft, with the a

    • please, not talking about angry birds and crap like that

      Which is why one of the NES launch titles was a game where you shoot the birds and a dog grabs them by the neck.

  • False (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Hey, apparently this isn't true. Nintendo's official denial has been circulating for a few hours now - before the original post.

    "Video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto's role at Nintendo is not changing. He will continue to be a driving force in Nintendo's development efforts. In discussing his priorities at Nintendo in a media interview, Mr. Miyamoto explained how he is encouraging the younger developers at the company to take more initiative and responsibility for developing software. He attempted to convey

  • This is a man who probably more responsible for the modern video game industry than any other. While it's not likely he'll re-revolutionize games, seeing his new work could be both interesting and enjoyable.

    What I'm personally more interested in is the direction that Nintendo will take in his absence. His franchises are the core of their offerings on every platform for the past 25 years or so. Will those franchises continue to balloon beyond the bounds of reason? Mario and Link will likely sell more gam

  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:37PM (#38305010)

    I read that as he wants to make iPhone games. So much of his stuff is really experimental. If he wasn't tied to alway making another "blockbuster" for Nintendo, we'd probably see a lot more games.

    He would mop up the cash with 2-3 new franchises and the Angry Birds model of small, regular updates.

    • Exactly. Mobile gaming converts another industry legend.

    • Unless someone's just frustrated that Nintendo doesn't have a developer program that's as inclusive as Microsoft's or Apple's. Anyone with $1500 down and $100 per year, including developers that are family businesses run from a home office, can get started developing games for Xbox 360 or the iPhone. Nintendo is a long-time opponent of home-based development.
      • Add to that as a designer his hands get tied only doing 1-2 games a year that are "bet the company" and sell for $50-$60. Imagine what the guy could do making 25MB games that sell for $1-$5? He is clearly somebody that wants to make lots of different KINDS of games... Nintendo probably only publishes a fraction of what he imagines.

  • Apparantly he is working on a new game called Happy Avians.

    It's about smiling birds that build houses for friendly pigs.

    • I already have a copy of that game, and it's actually called Animal Crossing. It's a bit like The Sims except more rural and cartoonish, and it runs on the console's real time clock. There is a fourth game in the works for 3DS.
  • by TonyXL (33244) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:07PM (#38305442) Journal

    My reward for being a good designer/coder was to oversee a large design/code team. I miss designing/coding.

  • If he's not stepping down, I'm kinda sad. I was hoping that this would motivate Nintendo to actually create something new. I'm personally getting a bit sick and tired of every single piece of Nintendo hardware doing little more than showing off some useless gimmick and launching with nothing but rehashes of 20 year old games. Nintendo as a whole is slipping into irrelevance.
  • 'What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself. Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.'"

    Let's hope he at least has a sword and full heart containers, then.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @10:02PM (#38310952) Homepage Journal
    I think what Miyamoto is doing is going to turn out really good for not only Nintendo, but the gaming industry as a whole. One can use their talents not only to create, but also identify who has the potential to create things. As companies and industries grow, they tend to get less flexible, esp. towards those at the "bottom rungs" of the corporate ladder. This is especially true in Japan, where seniority is everything(there are still Japanese companies that don't give out merit based pay raises). Miyamoto is almost 60, he realizes that he doesn't have a huge amount of time left before retirement, and rather than just continue to do what he has done, only to leave a huge void at the top, it looks like he is devoting his last years at Nintendo to giving younger developers the exact same opportunity he was given.

    When he first started out, he was an employee at a relatively small company trying to break into a very small industry, and as such there were very few people to push back when he tried to push the boundaries. Now fast forward a few decades and you have this massive industry comprised of massive companies, there is going to be push back when you try to push the boundaries, and massive hurdles to clear if you do, esp. if you want to do so while working for an already established company. By becoming a mentor Miyamoto can use his prestige to help elevate some of the good ideas and people that otherwise might have otherwise been wasted toiling at the bottom rung. It's actually a shame that more visionaries aren't like Miyamoto and spend their last years working as advisors and cultivators of good ideas. While I'm sure his input will be missed at the top levels, he can do the company a lot more good spending his final years trying to identify and help the people that will one day take his place.
  • by otaku244 (1804244) on Friday December 09, 2011 @12:26AM (#38311756)
    Yes, Shiggy stepping down is a good thing and he will be missed. But I feel there is more to the story than this.
    The Japanese Video Game Industry has stagnated. [gametheoryonline.com] All the real development cash cows are here in the United States. [gametheoryonline.com]

    I think it is very important to point out that there is a strong possibility that Miyamoto stepping down is very likely him making an attempt to reinvent himself and, by extension, the JVGI.

    I really hope it works out. There hasn't really been an over-the-top, flashy game that was enjoyable to play since Zone of the Enders 2. As good as the games are that are made in the states, we focus too much on "realism". We still just don't have anything that mimics the flashy antics of Japanese design.
  • Miyamoto stepping down is just the beginning of great things to come from him. He can branch out and be more creative. That's how the industry grows.

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