GDC 09: Format holder boss tries to dispell 'myths' of Wii and DS development

Iwata: Other studios CAN compete with Nintendo

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata went to great lengths to tell developers that third parties are able to compete with the format holder in his GDC keynote today.

An often repeated criticism from publishers and developers is that first party offerings are the only ones that succeed on the Wii or DS – but this is a ‘myth’ said Iwata, pointing to his own personal experiences as a games developer.

"We all work in a time of rapid change," he said "So it is normal for people even cool game developers to feel unsettled."

"Other people believe that only Nintendo software is profitable on Nintendo systems – this is not the case. But I do understand their concern. Some developers believe they cannot compete with Nintendo software because of the amount of money invested by us in development and software. But I used to the feel the same way."

After taking time to detail the ways Miyamoto has a ‘different’ approach to development than anyone else, Iwata said that the key to success is to ‘deal in surprise’.

"What can happen when game developers deal in surprise? Consider how our industry reacts to a world with Guitar Hero, Spore and World of Goo," he added singling out a handful of products to prove his point.

He also said developers shouldn’t worry too much about creating experiences just for the wave of ‘new gamers’ brought to games by the likes of Brain Training.

"With so many new players they can only represent a part of the new spending from last year – it is exsting gamesr that have been supporting our industry," said Iwata, adding that "there are misconceptions about what has been happening in video games" and reminding attendees that they should be addressing all gamers – not just new ones.

He added that Nintendo platforms’ wide ranging success mean a better chance for all developers to launch their games – that’s why all the key Nintendo IP from Zelda to Mario Kart launched early on Wii and DS, as did the Virtual Console, to build the platform.

He also pointed to NPD numbers that show more third party games sell on Wii than any other platform – and second in that is the DS.

He added: "There is no single formula for success on Wii.

"It is in the power of game develoeprs in all of us to invent things gamesr have never seen or imagined before," he added, saying the recession can inspire good ideas too.

"Remember – during America’s great depression, creators inveted the jet engine, television and chocolate chip cookies.

"As a developer I believe anything is possible – the future of video games is in your hands. And I cannot wait for you to show us your surprise."

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