Nintendo: Asahi Shimbun interview with Tatsumi Kimishima (movies, mobile, NX)
Today, the Asashi Shimbun published a rather lengthy interview with Tatsumi Kimishima. It covers various topics, including film production, games for smart devices, the NX platform, and more.
In the past, we’ve often heard about various plans for movies and TV series based on Nintendo series, but it was pretty rare for anything concrete to come out of those rumours. But this time around, things seem to be quite different, as the piece of news comes directly from Tatsumi Kimishima himself.
A few hours ago, the Asahi Shimbun published an interview with the president of Nintendo, where he talks about the company’s plans for film production. By film production, Tatsumi Kimishima is obviously talking about movies, but also other video content. This project is part of their plans to strengthen the Nintendo brand, by making sure their IP can reach even more people than before.
In the interview, Tatsumi Kimishima reveals that Nintendo is in talks with various companies, and that they should be able to finalise something in the near future. And it looks like Hollywood is but one possible partner: it doesn’t necessarily have to be Hollywood, but Nintendo does want to work with partners who can be successful on a global scale, not just in Japan.
Naturally, more details will be revealed once everything is finalised, including the IPs to be used. Obviously, Nintendo wants to use IPs that are quite popular, but right now, Tatsumi Kimishima can only say that they’re making something that everyone can enjoy.
That being said, when the journalist from the Asahi Shimbun mentions that The Legend of Zelda would be good fit for a movie, given how popular it is overseas, Tatsumi Kimishima explains that Nintendo is aware that there is a strong demand for such a movie.
Head after the break for the rest of this post!
And when the journalist mentions the live action Super Mario Bros. movie, Tatsumi Kimishima explains that this movie didn’t do too well at the box-office, and that from now on, they would like to do things themselves instead of simply licencing their IP to third-party companies.
It doesn’t look like the first movie will be live-action:
Q: Does that mean another live-action film?
A: We’ve already tried that, so perhaps not this time.
When asked if Nintendo wants to be like Disney and Pixar, Tatsumi Kimishima explains that the company has a strong stable of IP, and that they would like to do something like those two:
We have a strong stable of IP, so we’d like to be able to do something like them. So we’ll keep that in mind as we work towards making this a reality.
The article explains that film production is part of Nintendo’s strategy, which consists in expanding their business ventures in new areas (outside the traditional console space) with the Universal Theme Parks attractions, the release of their first games/apps on mobile devices, and more. Basically, they want to expand the usage of their IPs, and a possible movie happens to be one of the projects they are looking into.
Apparently, their selling of their stake in the Seattle Mariners is part of that strategy. Tatsumi Kimishima isn’t simply looking forward to making money by licencing Nintendo’s characters, and he believes that the company needs to invest heavily in those new areas such as film production moving foward. The proceeds from the sale of their stake in the Seattle Mariners will actually be used to fund those investments.
As to when that first movie will be released, it certainly doesn’t look like it will be this year. Tatsumi Kimishima doesn’t give an actual date or timeframe, and simply explain that they are in talks with partners at the moment.
Here’s what he said:
While I can’t say a particular year, we are in specific talks at the moment. Of course we’d like to make use of any income from this year, but I can’t say we’re pushing it to something five years out. I’d like to make something happen before that.
As for whether those movies will be profitable to Nintendo, it seems that their goals in this area are quite similar to those for their mobile devices. Of course they’re looking into making money (it’s not something Tatsumi Kimishima mentions directly in the interview, but is heavily implied), but their main goal is to increase the number of people who come into contact with Nintendo’s IPs.
Here’s what he said about that:
Our primary goal is to increase the number of people who know our IPs. Our core business is to create games and hardware, but the question becomes how to make that business more effective. And of course simple advertisment is no good. So we’d like to create other businesses that can support that goal.
Of course, movies are not something Nintendo is entirely unfamiliar with. There has already been over 18 Pokémon movies, after all! In fact, Nintendo has learned a lot of things thanks to Pokémon, and not just about movies (but also toys, merchandise, etc.). But they have come to one conclusion: it all has to “guide” customers to their core business (dedicated gaming platforms).
When asked whether Shigeru Miyamoto was involved in those new businesses, Tatsumi Kimishima confirmed that he was:
Of course. He’s taught many other game producers, and as a result of that we’re able to have him consider how best to use our IPs. We’d like his input in our film business as well.
In the interview, Tatsumi Kimishima talks a bit about Miitomo, and explains that the current number of downloads is “in line with expectations”, and that the most important things for them is to make sure that “people […] keep playing for a long time”. They have taken note of users who want the app to be faster, and adding friends easier (two things adressed with the update released last week).
Here’s what he said about that:
We’ve gotten many requests to make it easier to add friends and to increase the speed of the app, and we’re working to respond to those. With Miitomo, the more friends you connect with the wider the possibilities become, and we’d like to implement that into our next apps as well.
Tatsumi Kimishima also reiterated that their mobile projects are meant to work in synergy with their dedicated gaming platforms:
We aim to have our smartphone games work in synergy with our traditional hardware, so we’d like to make something like that a reality. I feel that we at Nintendo are well-suited for that sort of thing.
When asked if that meant interacting with the Nintendo 3DS, here’s what Tatsumi Kimishima answered:
Considering the sales numbers for the platform, I don’t think you would be wrong to imagine as much.
About the Fire Emblem game for smart devices, he explains that it’s precisely because it’s a popular series amongst hard-boiled fans that they thought it would be a good fit for a mobile game. However, he does believe that simply copying the console experience on mobile 1:1 would be pointless. Unfortunately, he didn’t say which parts of Fire Emblem they would keep for the mobile game:
So the question is, what parts of Fire Emblem would be enjoyable to bring to smartphones? That was the key question, and while I’m afraid the answer to that is an industry secret, we’re keeping it in mind as we develop.
As for monetisation, it looks like Nintendo is trying to find a middle ground that can satisfy everyone:
The players of Nintendo games are not simply made up of people who can splurge on any amount of DLC. We’re looking for a safer middle ground that can satisfy everyone.
Finally, the journalist from the Asahi Shimbun tried to get some details about which IPs would be used for the last two mobile games, and whether Mario would be one of them. Unfortunately, Tatsumi Kimishima didn’t confirm anything:
We’re working to plan and develop IPs with a strong demand for them. I can’t say “the fourth game will be Mario”, but we’re well aware of people’s hopes.
The interview also covers the NX platform. Tatsumi Kimishima starts by reiterating that it will provide something really new:
It’s something very new. The hardware, the software lineup, all of it is something I’d like to play for the first time myself.
When asked why Nintendo chose to give up on the year-end holiday sales, he once again explained that it was to have enough games ready. But it’s not just about launch. Once people are done playing the launch titles, they will want games to play throughout the year:
When people finish the launch titles, they will want things to buy in spring, on summer break, at Christmas. As such, it’s not simply a question of when the hardware’s ready; rather, we need to ensure our software lineup is also in a good place.
In other words, it does look like Nintendo learned a lessons or two with the Wii U!
As for whether the release in March will have an impact on Hardware sales this year, Tatsumi Kimishima explains that he isn’t really worried about the Nintendo 3DS, which will have Pokémon for the holidays.
When the NX is released, the Wii U business will slow. But the 3DS has Pokemon coming this autumn, and that’s such a big hit that I can’t imagine the NX will have a negative impact on the 3DS.
The journalist from the Asahi Shimbun seems to believe that the Wii U is the one that will be the most effected by the NX, due to them both being home consoles. However, Tatsumi Kimishima explained that while it may be true, the NX is neither the successor to the Wii U nor the Nintendo 3DS:
I suppose it can be seen that way. However, the NX is neither the successor to the Wii U nor to the 3DS. It’s a new way of playing games, which I think will have a larger impact that the Wii U, but I don’t feel it’s a pure replacement for the Wii U.
When asked if NX sales will be able to compensate for Wii U sales for the current Fiscal Year, Tatsumi Kimishima explained that any numbers for the NX were still tentative. That being said, they’re aware that if there isn’t a stong interest for it, it will be hard for the NX to compensate for the drop in Wii U sale. Also, he has high hopes for its smartphone games, which should definitely help compensate for the drop in revenue from the Wii U:
The NX is still an uncertain quantity, so any numbers are tentative. However, it’s true it will be difficult unless we foster a strong interest in the NX in our customers. In addition, I have high hopes for the sales of our smartphone apps.
Finally, Tatsumi Kimishima talked about the price of the NX, and how things were not as simple as they may seem. Just because it’s new platform doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be more expensive (something Nintendo experienced first-hand with the Nintendo 3DS after all):
It’s true there is a certain expectation for the prices of Nintendo consoles. Our developers put a lot into them, but we can not sell at a loss. The final price is determined by balancing these two conflicting ideas. I don’t believe it’s as simple as “because this is a new platform, we can make it more expensive.”
Source: Asahi Shimbun
A bing thanks to Shun and GSR for their translations!