Nintendo chief speaks
Why there won't be a modem or many third-party games at GameCube's launch
With Nintendo's preparations for SpaceWorld 2001 in full swing, Japanese magazine GB-Advance caught up with director Satoru Iwata to discuss third-party relations, software strategies and more. Among comments about the GameCube's successful reception at E3 and his thoughts on how the software lineup conveys "Nintendo's philosophy in motion", Iwata made some interesting comments on N64 sequels, the largely first-party software line-up and the proposed modem add-on.
One of the first things the Japanese interviewer asked was why N64 originals like Doubutsu no Mori were of such importance to the company on the GameCube. Iwata responded: "There were a handful of titles for the Nintendo 64 that were very unique, but they didn't have the opportunity to reach a large audience." Iwata believes these games have mass appeal, but they weren't able to get a foothold. A more obvious concession of the N64's failure we haven't seen for some time.
Although the early line-up generally speaking dwells on franchise games to make its mark, Iwata claims to be "opposed to sequels" on principle. We'll let him off for the dozens of Mario iterations then, shall we? "Not all of them are bad. However, if a sequel isn't substantially different from its predecessor then there's no reason to buy it, and players realise that. So we've rejected those kinds of sequels." Sequels on the GameCube, Iwata says, will either "try to give players a complete new experience" (like Pikmin) or "try to create a new spin on a popular theme."
The next interesting point is about third-parties. The interviewer first asks whether or not third-parties are hesitant about developing for the console. Iwata sidesteps this somewhat by saying that it would be "contrary to our philosophy to concentrate on third-party software and the number of software titles available in order to sell hardware". Clearly not content with that, the interviewer presses the point, saying that he finds it disconcerting that the GameCube's launch lineup consists largely of Nintendo's own titles, much like the Nintendo 64, which Iwata has already all but admitted was a failure.
Iwata reckons you can't expect to see a large number of third-party titles for a while yet. You have to foster interest in the console. "With the Nintendo 64, third-party software took a while [to appear] because the hardware was difficult to develop for," he admits. "We've taken that into consideration when designing the GameCube, so we don't feel that's a problem this time. On the other hand, though, we feel as if we have to create a market through Nintendo's software first in order for the GameCube to succeed. It's like battle - we have to go in and establish our position before calling our allies for reinforcements."
Finally, Iwata is asked about the proposed GameCube modem, and tells the interviewer that unfortunately it won't be available for launch. "A definitive release date and pricing still hasn't been decided, so I can't really discuss it," he adds. "Sega has been encouraging us to release the modem because of their upcoming Phantasy Star Online title. We're considering their needs and discussing how soon we can release the modem. We should have an announcement ready for SpaceWorld." ®
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