During a corporate management policy briefing in early February, high-level Nintendo executives were asked about feedback to the recent Nintendo Labo announcement. This sparked a celebration of the company’s development philosophy. After all, when your playful, unique and innovative new product is described as ‘so you’, it’s a good time to bask in a job well done.
“When we first announced Nintendo Labo, a lot of people said it was a ‘very Nintendo’ product. We are very thankful for that appreciation and support,” says Nintendo director and managing executive office Shinya Takahashi.
Industry legend Shigeru Miyamoto feels similarly. “I, too, want to express my heartfelt thanks that people see this as a ‘very Nintendo’ product,” he says. “I read (on the Internet) somewhere that someone admired management for approving a product like Nintendo Labo, but inside Nintendo there are a lot of people who want to make products like that, and Nintendo is the kind of company that hires people who want to make products like that.
“In fact, when we asked inside the company for ideas for novel ways to use Joy-Con, we received many, many proposals, and one of them was to use cardboard like people did in the old days to make things. Nintendo is the kind of company that welcomes those kinds of new ideas. The fact that it was perfectly natural for a product like Nintendo Labo to arise gives me reassurance that everyone inside the company understands and is committed to Nintendo as a company that innovates new ways to have fun and not as a company that only makes video games.”
The idea to expand the use of the Switch’s Joy-Con beyond being simple game controllers is something that was planned from the start. “In our efforts to develop new forms of play, we at Nintendo always look to the integration of hardware and software,” says Takahashi. “Nintendo Labo is just one of many projects under development, and it emerged from the idea of somehow setting the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers, which can be considered a mass of sensors, into some form of attachment. I’m sure we surprised everyone with the use of cardboard, but it is not so far-fetched if you consider how familiar the material is at least to Japanese people who from a young age use it for play and as a material for creating things such as fancy crafts."
“Our goal as hardware developers with Joy-Con was to widen the possibilities of the controller,” says director and senior executive officer Ko Shioto. “Using Joy-Con to the fullest has continued to be a consideration ever since Nintendo Switch was in development. As Mr. Takahashi noted, one idea was to set Joy-Con in some kind of attachment, and the result (of that kind of thinking about hardware and software in parallel) led to the inception of Nintendo Labo.”