Reggie Fils-Aimé Discusses Nintendo’s Approach To Mobile Development

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Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé has touched on the company’s approach to mobile development, reinforcing that they will always produce games that match the hardware.

That echoes the way in which they have always approached their dedicated game platforms, with Fils-Aimé touching on how Wii Sports hadn’t been possible until motion control technology had reached a point in which it would work successfully.

“Hardware and software development inside Nintendo has always operated hand-in-hand. It’s a constant back-and-forth of ideation and real world solutions,” Fils-Aimé explained to TIME. “Maybe the clearest example would be Wii Sports on Wii—we couldn’t employ a motion control game until there was technology that would support it. So we made that hardware ourselves. But that said, there are always limitations, because some things just aren’t possible.

“We might brainstorm a game where a player actually levitates above the floor in his family room… but we haven’t figured that out—at least not yet! And similarly, sometimes new technology becomes an added tool for game developers, but that doesn’t immediately generate the ‘killer app’ that everyone hopes for. As I said, whether it’s technology or imagination, there are always limits.”

Nintendo has reiterated that they won’t simply port existing software across to mobile, as the gameplay experience can’t be replicated in such way due to the differing control schemes. That instead sees the company looking to “provide an experience that’s differentiated in the marketplace,” as they seek to make impact in what is often seen as a volatile arena.

He continued, “In this way, what I would say in terms of our mobile apps is that we will absolutely continue our traditional maxim of developing software that matches the hardware. We have looked at the limitations of software design on mobile platforms, and worked within those parameters. If there’s a 3DS game that requires the full manipulation of joysticks and multiple buttons, that game clearly can’t be exactly replicated on a touch-screen mobile device.

“Our strategy is not to port games developed for our dedicated systems to smart devices as they are–we have to develop new software experiences that give people the opportunity to interact with Nintendo IP and that matches the play style and control of smart devices.

“So what we’ve been working at is development of apps that feature Nintendo IP in a meaningful way for mobile platforms. We understand that this may feel different. And that’s O.K. Doing things differently isn’t something we shy away from. And we’re confident we can deliver ‘surprise and delight’ within the profile of mobile devices just as well as we do with dedicated portables or home consoles.

“At its heart, people are using [smart devices] as a way to stay connected with others through a variety of different means. We think we can provide an experience that’s differentiated in the marketplace, and it leverages what the device does well. And certainly we will bring our best IP into the smart device world, but we’re going to do it in a way that leverages what those devices do, that enable a play style that makes sense. That’s what critically important to us.”

Nintendo has so far revealed Miitomo, a “free-to-start type communication application for smart devices” that will launch in March to help introduce the new My Nintendo membership service.

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After starting out with a Yellow Game Boy and a copy of Donkey Kong Land, Alex once hid in his room to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time one Christmas. Now he shares his thoughts on Nintendo Insider, keeping track of everything to do with Nintendo.

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