Update: Nintendo’s CSR Report for 2015 is available in Japanese.
Today, Nintendo held its 75th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, which is a major event for the company. It’s during this meeting that directors are appointed/re-elected, and major decisions are made. This year, it seems the meeting went rather smoothly, as all proposals were resolved as originally proposed.
First: the year-end dividends for the past Fiscal Year (which ended on March 31st) will be 180 Yen, as originally proposed. That being said, unless you’re a shareholder, this doesn’t mean anything to you!
Secondly: all 10 directors were re-elected, as originally proposed. This means there’s no change among Nintendo’s Directors, which are still comprised of the following people: Satoru Iwata, Genyo Takeda, Shigeru Miyamoto, Tatsumi Kimishima, Shigeyuki Takahashi, Satoshi Yamato, Susumu Tanaka, Shinya Takahashi, Hirokazu Shinshi and Naoki Mizutani.
The following Directors were also appointed as Representative Directors: Satoru Iwata (Representative Director, Director and President), Genyo Takeda (Representative Director, Senior Managing Director), Shigeru Miyamoto (Representative Director, Senior Managing Director).
NB: we do not have the results of the vote yet, so we don’t know how many shareholders vote for or against the re-election of the Directors. This is an important data, which allows us to see how many of them trust the re-elected Directors, such as Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto.
Finally, the following people were appointed as Full Time Auditors: Minoru Ueda, Ken Toyoda.
Head after the break for partial Q&A!
NB: the full transcript should be available in Japanese beforre the end of the week, or early next week. The full, official English transcript should be available sometime next week. In the mean time, please note that the following answers are not 100% official, and may contain inaccuracies.
Satoru Iwata explained that the price of Nintendo games is the same at retail and on the Nintendo eShop because the company believes the games have the same value no matter their support. Some companies chose to have the digital version cheaper, due to the lack of used sales or in-store promotions. He explained that while Nintendo doesn’t typicall offer discounts, retailers may do so.
What’s more, each version has its own risks, like inventory risk for the retail version. Of course, there’s no such problem for the digital version, where there’s no inventory to worry about. What’s more, it’s impossible to buy a digital game in store without having it activated at the register first.
Satoru Iwata also reminded the shareholders that Nintendo cannot control the price of the retail version of games (this would be against the law), but he’s aware that some people are disatisfied with the price of digital games. That’s where the new membership service (to be launched this Fall) will come into play, with special benefits.
This was a question about shares.
A shareholder wanted to know if the NX platform will also suffer at launch because of its price (like the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS).
Iwata did admit that the Wii U didn’t sell well at launch, and that the Nintendo 3DS also needed a price drop. The Nintendo DS also had a slow start (though things improved with both Brain Training and the DS Lite), and only the Wii sold well right from the start. For the NX platform, it’s hard for Nintendo to say anything for now, though ideally, sales will be great right from the start.
Iwata also reiterated that it was announced so early (during the shared press conference with DeNA), in order to show that Nintendo was stil commited to dedicated gaming platforms. Doing it so early was kind of like announcing a magic trick in advance, according to Iwata. Of course, no information will be revealed before 2016.
Satoru Iwata explained that third-party publishers chose which platforms to release their game primarily because of the install-base. He also announced that Nintendo has several unnannounced partnerships with third-party publishers in the works, making progress.
A question about the Seattle Mariners (owned by Nintendo).
A shareholder wanted to know why so few games were shown at E3 this year. Shigeru Miyamoto explained that while the event is “global” due to the internet, it’s primarily aimed at the North American market (which is why there was “less” games for the Japanese market, as games already available in Japan were shown at E3).
He also explained that Nintendo didn’t show any game by third-party publishers (for obvious reasons), and criticisms about that matter have been noted. He also talked a bit about the competition, who had many game announcements but not too many of those were actually playable on the showfloor.
Then Satoru Iwata explained he was aware that fans in Japan were disappointing by this E3. As for visitors on Nintendo’s booth, they seemed pretty happy and smiling according to Nintendo’s president.
He then talked about the various Nintendo events at E3 (such as the Nintendo World Championships), and explained that while the company wants to do something about the lack of satisfaction regarding the livestreams (he was most likely referring to the Digital Event), he explains that reactions were not entirely negative for Nintendo at E3.
As mentioned several times in the past few weeks, Nintendo uses E3 for short term announcements, though every year they may end up talking about future titles if and when needed. Also, there are years where the development schedule is more favorable (with more games being ready to be shown), but 2015 clearly wasn’t one of those.
Satoru Iwata refused to talk about the NX, in order to avoid the competition from taking their ideas or having fans not surprised when the actual platform is revealed.
He then explained that Nintendo will keep making games for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS while preparing for the NX platform, and the company isn’t just going to shift everything to the it. He clearly said that Nintendo had current Wii U owners’ satisfaction as its current priority.
An investor wanted to know more about the pricing of Nintendo games on mobile platforms. Satoru Iwata answered by saying that:
– regular sales don’t work (the market is really competitive, and some games get discounts up to -90%)
– Free 2 Play isn’t an adequate term, and he prefers “Free 2 Start”. According to him, the fact that you can now simply purchase better growth rate for your character, or rare items, is becoming a real societal problem.
He then explained that with mobile games, Nintendo is targetting a global audience. In Japan, there’s games which are really profitable by charging a lot of money to a limited number of users, but globally, there’s more successful games charging much smaller amounts but to a larger number of users. Nintendo wants to make games that are enjoyed by players of all age, gender, game experience, or region, so payments will most likely be kept small.
He also mentionned how different mobile games are: unlike console games, they’re updated frequently. In other words, they’re part of the “Games as a service” business model, where instead of frequent releases, you have one game updated on a regular basis.
Another investor wanted to know if Nintendo was planning to get even more agressive with IP licencing, and was even wondering when they could buy “Nintendo Bread”. Satoru Iwata then asked the following question: “Is it really better to have more licenced products just for the sake of it?”. For him, there’s a need for QC, which means you’re most likely not going to find Mario printed on your favorite brand of toilet paper any time soon, for example.
Nintendo doesn’t want to make its characters “consumable”, because the company has a long-term goal: they want their brands to withstand the test of time, by remaining popular and easily recognisable on a long period of time.
A question about Nintendo’s stocks.
One of the investors asked Nintendo whether they were going to make more frequent use of their IP. Satoru Iwata answered that it’s something that is decided internally, with a global approach. He explained that there may be some short-term hits than end up generating an excess of stock, thus devaluating the IP (which is why the have to be careful).
He was most likely referring to amiibo, and how conservative the company can be when it comes to amiibo stocks.
Officially, one of the reasons Nintendo doesn’t disclose sales of individual Virtual Console titles is because there’s way too many of them.
He also explained that Virtual Console titles take a lot of effort to release (testing, checking out potential issues on new hardware, etc.), in order to make sure they work properly. Obviously, Nintendo doesn’t want to have too many developers working on Virtual Console, and the priority will always lie with new games for the current platforms.
For third-party titles, Nintendo has to negotiate the rights with the various publishers, which is most likely the reason why none of the Square-Enix titles on the Wii U Virtual Console have been released outside Japan. Finally, Satoru Iwata explains that Nintendo always strives to provide a satisfactory line-up for the Virtual Console service, though one might wonder if, for fans, said line-up is really satisfactory!