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Forums - Nintendo Discussion - What if Iwata was still with us?

First of all I'm not very good at English so I hope I can make my point as clear as I want.

So it's been a couple of years since I feel like this Nintendo generation isn't as charming as before and I've been thinking that magic from before was because of Iwata. I miss a lot of features that maybe weren't necessary for a gaming console but gave a lot of personality to Nintendo, I miss having another reason to take my console out to have it interact with other consoles (Street pass) and filling a 3D poster from a game with every person I crossed, I miss those mii plaza free mini games, the themes with dedicated music, music in every menu and in the eshop, viewing the rankings of my most played games and what I played in which day, Miiverse, Wii sports, funny directs, and a lot more.
Sometimes I think that the reason Nintendo doesn't do that anymore is because when they tried a lot of that it was in their worst generation and now that they keep it simple they're selling like almost never before, which I think that is giving them a lot of confidence to make some not so good moves like charging full price for ports or not addressing Joycon drift (but that's another topic).

So my question is: Do you think Nintendo would be different with Iwata still here or would have been the same maybe with some minor changes? when do you think he would have retired?
I'd love if you give me your full thoughts on this.

TLDR: What would be different in Nintendo if Iwata was still in charge?



I know... my English sucks.

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CrowRSchneider said:

First of all I'm not very good at English so I hope I can make my point as clear as I want.

So it's been a couple of years since I feel like this Nintendo generation isn't as charming as before and I've been thinking that magic from before was because of Iwata. I miss a lot of features that maybe weren't necessary for a gaming console but gave a lot of personality to Nintendo, I miss having another reason to take my console out to have it interact with other consoles (Street pass) and filling a 3D poster from a game with every person I crossed, I miss those mii plaza free mini games, the themes with dedicated music, music in every menu and in the eshop, viewing the rankings of my most played games and what I played in which day, Miiverse, Wii sports, funny directs, and a lot more.
Sometimes I think that the reason Nintendo doesn't do that anymore is because when they tried a lot of that it was in their worst generation and now that they keep it simple they're selling like almost never before, which I think that is giving them a lot of confidence to make some not so good moves like charging full price for ports or not addressing Joycon drift (but that's another topic).

So my question is: Do you think Nintendo would be different with Iwata still here or would have been the same maybe with some minor changes? when do you think he would have retired?
I'd love if you give me your full thoughts on this.

TLDR: What would be different in Nintendo if Iwata was still in charge?

I disagree that there isn't as much charm since Iwata passed. Also, streetpass, mii plaza, and the 3DS were not primarily designed by Iwata. I believe they were lead by Hideki Konno. 

Nintendo has always kept their software prices high when other developers slash them. That's just Nintendo and their business model. I'd even say that the only reason games like Windwaker and DKC: Tropical Freeze were ever less than $60 was because they were trying to sell more Wii U units. In this sense, they changed for that era, not the other way around. 

Anyway, I do think things would be a bit different. For example, I think that Iwata may have pushed Pokemon Sword and Shield in a more positive direction, and I don't believe Pokemon Diamond and Pearl remakes would look the way that they do currently. I also think he would have continued to push the Mii's. I don't think things would be drastically different overall. Iwata was an incredible developer and a nice businessman. He was partially responsible for Nintendo's best and worst selling consoles (both portable and home). He will be missed, but I don't think his absence has changed Nintendo so drastically. 



1. Most people don't carry Switch's in their pockets/backpacks, so streetpass would probably not be used by many. 3ds's were very heavily placed inside pockets and backpacks, so you'd get lots of streetpass data.

2. I'd imagine those free mini games weren't that talked about or played, since we don't see them now.

3. While the themes/music seemed cool at the time, it gave Nintendo more of a "micro-transaction" image than they probably wanted. A LOT of companies get hated on for cosmetically purchasable content, and Nintendo more than most companies care about their image. Also, less money spent on themes = more money to spend on games.

4. I agree on the rankings, I loved that feature and miss it, but again try to think from their perspective. They have for years resisted achievements because they want people to relax and enjoy the games, not get obsessed with them. Maybe the data they had from customers indicated people were getting too obsessed and stressed about minutes/hours and they decided it was in the best interest of the health of gamers to stop having said feature. They have focused on health issues since the Wii days so this would not surprise me at all.

5. Miiverse was really cool, but they were constantly having to squash inappropriate content or divisive movements on it. They want that family-friendly image and that is hard to keep when your social media platforms is covered in genitalia drawings.

6. Wii Sports was huge on the Wii, but quickly dropped in popularity with its two sequels. Wii sports sold about 83 million, then Wii Sports Resort sold about 33 million (a massive 60% drop), then Wii Sports Club on Wii U sold (according to VGchartz) 0.38 million (a massive 89% drop in sales from Wii Sports Club and a gigantic 99.5% drop in sales from the original game). That kind of tremendous downward trend told Nintendo execs all they needed to know about how dead that series is. Could it come back? Sure, and I'd play it, but I doubt they will make another one.

7. Sometimes you just don't have the right personalities for numerous directs. I get the impression Doug Bowser is a lot less funny than Reggie, but I don't know for certain cause the guy is hardly ever in front of cameras.

8. Those ports they are charging full price for? They didn't have to port them at all. If the only way they could justify spending money on porting them is to have a certain return that can only be achieved by selling at that price point, then it is what it is. It would be one thing if the Switch was a huge graphical leap forward and they were charging full price for Wii U games that look so much worse than Switch games, but that isn't the case. Wii U = Switch graphics to most people who aren't hyper analyzing.

9. I think Iwata would have looked at the same data as the current leader and made the same calls.



He'd be ashamed of how terrible most people are in MK8



Hell if I know. I didn't know the guy.



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Personally, I don’t think much would have changed as far as hardware and software go. Kimishima pretty much followed Iwata’s gameplay. Iwata had more fan relation stuff, but toward the end people were getting really obnoxious toward him, mocking his accent, mocking what his words, and even making posts about how investors need to force Iwata out of the company. In light of that, I have a bit of satisfaction that Furukawa doesn’t do the same PR as Iwata did.

While Street Pass would be cool, it ran out of steam after 2 or 3 years on the 3DS. I would still get people, but it wasn’t like the 1-3 dozen I’d get during the earlier periods. It’s not that people got tired of it, it’s that Nintendo didn’t have the capacity to support it very well. I’d love to have Street Pass Switch, but maybe it didn’t serve business goals - they put later stuff behind a pay wall and it meant few people actually played it. Had Nintendo gone with more of a freemium approach, like their mobile stuff, I think it would have been a lot more successful with gamers and for them, business wise. Anyway, I’d say the lack of Streetpass on Switch isn’t because of the lack of Iwata - rather, I feel Iwata might have been the guy that said NOT to put it on Switch.

While Iwata was very much into inventive thinking, he also knew what babies to kill when they weren’t working. So, I don’t think Streetpass would still be around.

But I like Switch’s consistency a lot more than the end of the Wii and the Wii U/3DS era. And I think this comes from Iwata’s goals, and Kimishima & Furukawa’s teams have executed this with mastery - and a lot of this structuring is Iwata. The DS/Wii eras were the most stable Nintendo had ever felt... until the Switch. Going back: the NES era was a huge mess, availability was inconsistent with how it’d be available in certain cities but not others - how it would be priced more than double in some countries compared to others - game availability, again, inconsistent. A lot of this was technology limitations. SNES was more stable, but had huge problems with at least half the must-have games being imports, requiring Fire Converters or emulators to even play. N64 and GameCube suffered massive droughts - it wasn’t a case of “there’s nothing new worth playing this month” it was a case of “literally no new games released this month.” - in the N64 and GameCube era. With the Wii and DS, there was always a selection of new games every week. Switch has improved on that - it basically has the Wii and DS release volume combined, on one platform!

The major difference would be in media presentation. But assessment of the Switch on VGC isn’t particularly accurate to reality. Many people here have this weird mindset in saying “If I don’t see it in a Nintendo Direct, then it didn’t happen” which is not how the vast majority of Switch owners and potential owners see things. There is a Game YouTube Channel and social media pages constantly updated, Nintendo markets all over the place. For Switch owners, there is a news channel with lots of content each day. And for the most part, Nintendo Directs are pretty poor at talking about games, especially that big one earlier this year - so pretending like that’s the only way Nintendo talks about stuff is actually a little bit foolish, and not helpful to anyone. I am not sure Iwata would necessarily still be getting his face out everywhere as he was getting bashed on social media after every single appearance in his later years. The limited face time of Nintendo’s big wigs in PR might actually be Iwata’s recommendation, I don’t know.


So, in my opinion. Not much would have changed were Iwata around. The Switch is doing what it needs to, probably, better than any past Nintendo console. But, like Iwata, Furukawa is a fixer, and he seems to be looking at the future problems stresses are leading to, and fixing them before they arise. I don’t think Iwata would do much differently, as this was basically what he was doing for the DS and Wii era. I see Furukawa as very much the successor of Iwata’s team, and Iwata the successor of Gunpei Yokoi’s legacy.

Last edited by Jumpin - on 07 April 2021

I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

I don't much would have changed in his presence for some of the most flavorous PR appearances is so found of in Directs that's pretty much it. The buisness side and game developpement side of things were basically planned around the time of Iwata's passing which to me makes the Switch generation the last "HUURAAA" from Iwata's leadershipand sense of direction into the compagny.
I also wouldn't be surprised if in some years, the company got a similar enthusiastic, genius CEO previously amongst the staff who followed in his steps.

Like .... Yoshiaki Koizumi ! Seems like a goof fit in the future ^^



Switch Friend Code : 3905-6122-2909 

As was mentioned above, the Switch really was Iwata's final gift to gamers. Iwata was extremely dedicated to the success of Nintendo and oversaw it during some of its most successful years. When Nintendo hit hard-times with the Wii U, Iwata did all of the right things to get Nintendo back on the right track, even at great cost to himself. I suspect that when he took a 50% pay-cut in 2014 he probably doubled the hours that he was putting in as CEO. This was while Iwata was struggling with a terminal illness that ultimately cost him his life. I remember how terrible he looked in his last Direct in 2015: the man was clearly on his deathbed but he was still probably working full-time prepping the launch of the Switch/NX at that time. I have no doubt that Iwata sacrificed himself for the success that Nintendo is currently enjoying. There are very few people who would make that kind of sacrifice for a company.

If Iwata were still with us, we would probably be getting far better Directs, as a minimum. I also think that Iwata would want Nintendo to stay agile and would be pushing hard to surpass the complacent and low-effort first party releases that we have been seeing from Nintendo during the Switch's prosperity. Iwata, having led Nintendo through the Wii U era, would have known the risks associated with the complacency that we saw during the Wii. If Iwata were in charge, I guarantee that BotW2 would have either been released at this point or we would have had at least been given massive trailers. The rumored Switch pro that we are hearing about that uses AI resolution upscaling, I am sure would a lot closer to being a reality if Iwata were still CEO, as well. Overall, I believe that Nintendo would be in a better position for the future if Iwata were still around. Right now, the company is enjoying the fruits of his sacrifice, but the attitudes I am seeing from the company deeply reflect the laziness that we saw during the later Wii and early Wii U eras.



We'd have funner Nintendo Directs and E3s.



I think people give way too much credit to Iwata. He was a genius game designer and seemed like a good man. He also certainly did show some great leadership by cutting his pay to help workers.
Wii sold a ton, but lacked in some ways. During Iwata's tenure, there were tons of droughts during different times. The Wii U was filled with droughts, and the some of the other platforms had them too. Iwata was running Nintendo when they went on ID claim sprees and started the Creator's Program.
Still, he probably is the best leader of Nintendo. He seemed to have a lot of heart and was responsible for some great times. But even as Nintendo's best president, he's pretty good at best. The Switch certainly proved in some ways he was going to get Nintendo back on track.
But had the successor to the Wii U failed and Iwata was still alive, I think he should've been removed as the head of Nintendo. But in all fairness, I would say that about anyone in that position.
Unless there's something missing in my assessment of Iwata, I don't think Nintendo would be too different. I still think we would get droughts here and there and still some of the anticonsumer practices Nintendo takes part in.



Lifetime Sales Predictions 

Switch: 125 million (was 73, then 96, then 113 million)

PS5: 105 million Xbox Series S/X: 60 million

PS4: 122 mil (was 100 then 130 million) Xbox One: 50 mil (was 50 then 55 mil)

3DS: 75.5 mil (was 73, then 77 million)

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