By Maria Montoro
March 25, 2009 - In true Nintendo style, Iwata took the stage today at the Moscone Center and rejoiced in the Wii's incredible success and sales figures. They've shipped over 50 million units worldwide! For a while, the Wii was in short supply due to its unpredicted popularity, and now that it's widely available in stores everywhere, things couldn't be better - they continue to sell like hotcakes!
Of course, these hardware sales wouldn't happen without great software, and that's what they're focusing on right now. Nintendo has always managed to climb back to the top, even before they released the SNES, when the company wasn't doing so well. Now it's time to focus on media, and that's why Iwata can't help it but welcome Shigeru Miyamoto with a long introduction. But, where is he? What is he up to?
More on that later, but for now let's figure out why Miyamoto is so successful at creating games. First of all, he takes ideas from everywhere. He lives, he experiences things, and then he turns them into games. His new puppy turned into Nintendogs, his weight worries turned into WiiFit, and so on. So, how does he know it will work? It's simple. He starts with a small brainstorming session, then he puts together the basic ideas of the games, and then he tweaks things until he's sure they're fun. He enjoys working on multiple projects at the same time (I guess he likes challenge!), and he's even known for "kidnapping" random employees with little gaming experience and using them as testers. He'll make them play an unreleased product in late stages of development and then take notes on what they really seem to enjoy, what frustrates them, etc. Then it's back to the drawing board. Oftentimes, he'll end up shaking things up to the point they have to go back and redo certain things - never from square one, but they definitely have to make sure that what they're doing will be lots of fun for everyone.
With Miyamoto, everything works. In one of his projects, they hired J-Pop master Tsunuku for expert advice. He ended up making the developers dance around. What better way to know if a game is fun than to experiment with it? This GBA game was first released in Japan with the title Rizumu Tengoku, but it's been adapted to the dual-screen handheld and will soon arrive on U.S. shores with the title Rhythm Heaven (it'll be launched along with the DSi on April 5th).
Innovative ideas like these are what make Nintendo so popular amongst the masses. That's why 20% of Wii owners had never owned a gaming console in the past, and that's why 47% of the people who bought a Nintendo DS last year were females. This doesn't mean they're not taking core gamers seriously - the release of Zelda, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., etc. within the first 18 months since the Wii's launch can prove that.
Surprisingly, not only their two gaming devices are the top sellers in the U.S. market. There's actually a third device that has sold almost as many units as the PS3 in the U.S.A. - the Wii Balance Board! This leads to the demonstration of the upcoming title Rock and Roll climber, which uses the aforementioned peripheral.