8 Things To Know About Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Life
News
7/14/2015
12:15 PM
David Wagner
David Wagner
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

8 Things To Know About Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto

Shigeru Miyamoto is the greatest video designer ever and the odds-on favorite to take over Nintendo. But can he once again save the video game company?
Previous
1 of 10
Next

(Image: Jan Graber via Wikimedia Commons)

(Image: Jan Graber via Wikimedia Commons)

With the sudden death of Nintendo's president, Saturo Iwata, Nintendo needs a new leader, and most bets are on Shigeru Miyamoto, the game designer who in many ways is responsible for Nintendo's mere existence.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, Nintendo was trying to break into the North American video game market. It was struggling and on the brink of bankruptcy. Miyamoto was tasked with converting a bunch of unsold arcade consoles for a failed game called Radar Scope into a new title. Despite being an artist and not a programmer, Miyamoto eventually designed Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong would not only be a huge hit, but would spawn Nintendo's flagship character, Mario. By 2012, over 500 million copies of Mario games had been sold, and recent releases for the Wii U have pushed that number higher.

Many credit Miyamoto with doing a simple thing: starting with a story instead of a game. The love triangle between a monkey, a plumber, and a princess gave just enough humanity to a game about jumping over barrels to give it the life many early games lacked.

Miyamoto went on to create or produce most of Nintendo's biggest games. Given that Nintendo is at a new crossroads, it seems comforting to turn to the man that previously pulled them from the brink. Not only has Nintendo lost Iwata, but the company is struggling to adjust to mobile gaming. With the Nintendo DS, the most successful mobile gaming console in history, struggling to compete against phones and tablets, and the Wii U struggling to compete against more powerful consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One, Nintendo needs a fresh take.

Miyamoto, who has always put story and gameplay first, could be the one to do it. On the other hand, Nintendo is not struggling with gameplay. They are struggling with vision in platforms and in business decisions. Perhaps taking their best game designer away from the front lines is a bad idea. Only time will tell. But before Miyamoto likely takes the reigns. Here are some things you need to know about him.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 10
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2015 | 1:01:31 PM
Re: From Donkey Kong to jumping hurdles
@kstaron- I agree that that is a real worry. I think the counterargument is that with their consoles not doing well, Nintendo is fast becoming a software studio. If Miyamoto can instill his vision into all the different teams in the company, they could have a real revival. but you are right. Sometimes promoting a creative type to CEO gives you two problems. You lose their creativity and they're now in the wrong job.
kstaron
50%
50%
kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2015 | 12:58:22 PM
From Donkey Kong to jumping hurdles
I'm not sure if he should be the one to lead the company unless he can get creative with how to save it. His best place may be at the drawing board finding new characters to enthrall a new set of gamers. At the very top how much of his creative genius will be blocked by having to do things like run numbers and take meetings? He might be better off designing the next Donket Kong than having to jump the hurdles of being the CEO.
mak63
50%
50%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/20/2015 | 8:53:46 PM
Re: Feeling the love for Nintendo
@Stratustician That means all those hours I spent playing Nintendo games are quite possibly because of this man.
My thoughts exactly. Believe or not, once in a while, I still play Donkey Kong in my computer thru an emulator.

Ah those times when we were young and happy...

@David Wagner The love triangle between a monkey, a plumber, and a princess
You really don't call a gorilla a monkey. Haven't you seen any of the Planet Of The Apes movies? :)
nomii
50%
50%
nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
7/19/2015 | 9:25:43 PM
Re: Feeling the love for Nintendo
@Pedro very true. But in my opinion this decisions must be left with him. He should be given an option but must also be known what ninetendo needs for its existance and competition. I am sure he will make decision best acceptable to "ALL". :)
nomii
50%
50%
nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
7/19/2015 | 9:21:26 PM
Re: Feeling the love for Nintendo
@David you have correctly pointed out:-

"From a quality and quantity point of view no one has been better. but i can't help but notice he relies on a rather narrow set of characters which has been Nintendo's problem for some time."

In my opinion for something in marketing buisness they need to go with the customer requirement and must not evolve something out of the market as it might not go well till you are having a strong hold on the customer base. I think if ninetendo could have come up with different theme games to check where customers are more inclined in the past. It might have given them enough carrots in the bag to try few different games. But as they have kept themselves only to few themes it is now difficult for them to capture the market completely. Either they should come up with bigger advertisement campaign or an instant hit ti bring them back in reckoning. Lets wait and see what they finally do. As of today, their future is not looking very bright. What do you say?
nomii
50%
50%
nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
7/19/2015 | 9:13:11 PM
Re: Feeling the love for Nintendo
@Straut I agree with you. My story is similar. I was not fond of games as at time we were young there is a trend of hand held small games. The first thing I bought was ninetendo and for sole reason of Mario Brothers. It was my favourite. But I am afraid that with growing competition the ninetendo has gone down to mere existance. I could not able to find games worth compeing to XBox One & PS4. They are every now and then coming out with something extra ordinary. It might not be ver good but it is enough for their sales graph to move a bit higher. I am sure that my first love ninetendo will eventually come up with something special. I hope it will be not far into the future. :
PedroGonzales
50%
50%
PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
7/19/2015 | 10:55:02 AM
Re: Feeling the love for Nintendo
I think although these games seem very narrow, they have been able to withstand time.  They are as popular as ever.  I think no other person will be more appropriate to lead nintendo than him, but I think he may not be the president time.  He seems to be hands on game and character development.  This is something that I think it will be difficult once he shifts to a more leadership role. 
zerox203
100%
0%
zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
7/14/2015 | 10:21:40 PM
Re: 8 Things To Know About Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto
I was very saddened to hear of Mr. Iwata's passing this week. As someone who's watched Nintendo's presentations at E3 and elsewhere every year religiously since high school, he and Mr. Miyamoto have been the faces of some very special memories for me for as long as I can remember - before live video and Youtube were a thing, I remember reading text interviews with both of them on all kinds of topics in Nintendo Power. It's certainly a more emotional passing of the torch than something like Bill Gates stepping down at Microsoft. While Mr. Miyamoto is no doubt the most recognizable name from Nintendo to most people, it's worth noting that he's already 62, older than Mr. Iwata. He already went into a sort of 'soft retirement' a few years ago, where he stepped down from overseeing major titles directly. It's possible Nintendo may look to a younger president.

Many of the items on this list are common knowledge, even to non-gamers,  and the stories about Nintendo's rocky past and what a surprise hit Donkey Kong was are mainstays to anyone who's dipped a toe in the industry, but it certainly stacks up to quite an impressive list. I'd never heard the Stan Lee comparison before, but it makes sense - he's known more for his huge stable of timeless characters than for his hardware or business prowess. In retrospect, it does seem like an odd decision to take the generic protagonist of Donkey Kong (originally just known as 'Jumpman') and convert him to a plumber in a fantasy setting. Yet, it launched one of the most succesful franchises in any medium. Iwata, too, was famous for innumerable innovations in gaming's early days. I guess there's no substitute for pure drive and creativity.
David Wagner
0%
100%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/14/2015 | 2:20:32 PM
Re: Feeling the love for Nintendo
@Stratustician- Yup, 200 games from all the Donkey Kong sequels, to the MArio Brothers games, to Mario Kart, to Zelda and even the Pokemon games, and Splatoon. From a quality and quantity point of view no one has been better. but i can't help but notice he relies on a rather narrow set of characters which has been Nintendo's problem for some time.
Stratustician
100%
0%
Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
7/14/2015 | 2:17:20 PM
Feeling the love for Nintendo
So not only did he create Mario and Luigi, but he's responsible for Zelda.  That means all those hours I spent playing Nintendo games are quite possibly because of this man.  Considering all the game systems that I still have to this date are 90% Nintendo made, that says something about the longevity of his creations.

Well done sir!  While many might argue that other consoles offer better gaming experiences, for me, nothing beats a good game of Mario Kart.
Slideshows
Reflections on Tech in 2019
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  12/9/2019
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll