A portion of a TIME interview with Shigeru Miyamoto...
T: How did you pick and choose what gameplay elements are right for the iPhone and which ones aren’t? I noticed, for example, that I didn’t see any power-ups other than the mushroom in Super Mario Run like there are in the console games. Is that something we’ll eventually see in a mobile Mario game?
SM: I think with this being our first Super Mario game on iPhone, we’ve designed this both in what’s the best experience but also with a long road ahead of us in terms of what else we can do on iPhone. So perhaps you can look forward to some of that at some point in the future. But one thing we have done this time is that you’ll be able to play not just as Mario, but after going through the game and unlocking some things and meeting some conditions you’ll be able to play as some of the other characters as well.
T: The Kingdom Builder mode is a relatively new concept for Mario games. What made you decide to include that in Super Mario Run?
SM: There are a couple of reasons. One is there is actually a game in Japan that I’ve been playing on a smartphone with my wife, it’s called Neko Atsume, It’s sort of a cat collecting game. From that, I really got the sense of having this thing on your phone that you interact with on a regular basis, and then you grow and build it up from there, is a very compelling feature. And certainly Nintendo has had games that have done this in the past on our own platforms.
The other reason behind it, typically with the Super Mario games, what you’re really doing is you’re sort of strategizing and working your way through individual levels. And we wanted to have a method for you to save the accomplishments that you get in each of those levels and have a place where those accomplishments can kind of build up. And that’s where the idea for the Kingdom Mode came from.
Coming from a Pocket-Lint interview with Shigeru Miyamoto...
"Our intent has always been that the side-scrolling new Super Mario Bros games would be simpler - games that more casual players could be able to enjoy. But what we've found is that even though they are designed to be simpler and easier to understand, the controls can still be difficult for some players and they have a hard time controlling Mario or making him run and jump at the same time.
We wanted to ask how we can make the experience even simpler for somebody who had never played a Mario game before. That's been the focus with Super Mario Run: a game that's even easier to get into and play."
“Every game we develop — whether it’s for the home console or handheld — we ask ourselves what’s the right value for the offering,” he explains. “Look at Super Mario Run: 24 different worlds, three different modes, the on-going replayability for $9.99 here in the U.S. That’s a tremendous value, and we think in the end the consumer is going to respond accordingly, especially when they can sample a lot of the game for free.”
Shigeru Miyamoto has revealed one of the big inspirations for Super Mario Run, and it comes from the world of speedrunners. Nintendo's devs had been watching players online tackle all sorts of games in amazing times, and they noticed that those players never let off the d-pad when playing. This inspired Nintendo to take Super Mario Run in a direction where Mario is always moving forward, letting the player worry only about jumps.
A portion of a FinancialPost interview with Shigeru Miyamoto...
FP: How is making games for mobile changing the way you’re approaching your audience? Do you see it as a chance to bring older, lapsed Nintendo fans back into the fold?
SM: As we’ve taken on this challenge to make games for mobile, as well as the release of the NES Classic, we’ve seen that there are a lot of people who had “graduated” from playing Nintendo games who are now coming back. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.
We also look to people who maybe feel that video games are actually too hard for them to play, and through the simple interface of Super Mario Run for iPhone they’re able to easily understand the appeal of interactive entertainment. By helping them understand that fun we can open their eyes to the fun of our other games as well.
Previously, the first gaming device that people would interact with was a dedicated game device. Now we’ve reached an era where the first device they’re often encountering is a device that has multiple uses. But what we’ve finally seen over the last couple of years is that mobile phones and iPhones have evolved to the point where they’re able to deliver a gaming experience that meets our level of expectation for what we want our games to be able to achieve.
By using iPhone and mobile devices as a means of reaching people as that first device they interact with, what we’ll be able to do then is introduce people to these mobile versions of our games and characters that will then instill in them the desire to play deeper experiences on our dedicated gaming devices. That’s where we will still put our focus going forward.
FP: Does making Super Mario Run a buy-to-own game rather than a free-to-play game – which are very popular on mobile devices – allow you to design your challenges differently than those of most mobile games?
SM: When we first started talking about bringing Nintendo games and Mario to iPhone, we talked a lot about what we would do from a monetization standpoint and debated this even with Mr. Iwata back in those days (Satoru Iwata was CEO of Nintendo until his death in 2015).
Certainly there are a lot of different ways that you can monetize a game. In Japan there’s a mechanic that’s referred to as “gacha,” where you keep spending small amounts for a raffle or lottery to get rare items. There are other ways that you can charge people repeatedly to get money. And there are games that rely on a very small number of people who pay a lot of money and the rest of the players play for free.
But we looked at who a traditional Nintendo game player and consumer was, and we feel that in our case with a lot of our products we see parents buying the game for their kids. In that sense, we felt pretty strongly that we needed to have a form of monetization where you would simply pay once and be able to play as much as you like. That was important for Nintendo and our audience. You don’t see a lot of [mobile] games that are set up that way these days, but we felt it was important for us to establish that for this game.
Reggie - No Super Mario Run on Switch, Apple TV not ruled out, no NES games on mobile, future mobile plans
Coming from a CNET interview with Reggie Fils-Aime...
On mobile games impacting sales of traditional platforms/software
"To take an example from the launch of Pokemon Go: half a billion downloads. We were a cultural moment. With the launch of Pokemon Go, you had legacy 3DS titles like [Pokemon] X and Y jump back to the top-selling lists. Then we had the big launch of Pokemon Sun/Pokemon Moon itself that was the best initial four-day software total in Nintendo of America's history.
So, for us, looking at how we engage with consumers, how we get them interacting with our IP [intellectual property], whether it's through a smart device, whether it's through a dedicated game device, whether it's through the stuff they wear, whether it's going to an amusement park, it's all focused on getting them to engage with the IP and have a great time. And when we do that, as you've seen with Pokemon Go, it really ripples throughout the entire business. What we're hoping, now, with Super Mario Run is we get that same impact on all things Mario."
No Super Mario Run on Switch
"Development for Super Mario Run is different than development for Nintendo Switch [the company's all-new Wii U successor, coming in March 2017]. With Switch we're going to have a variety of input devices, a variety of ways for you to interact with the game. Here, it's all the screen. So it's a different type of development challenge. But at the core, our developers are looking to create content that you really can't get anywhere else, you can't experience anywhere else...that's a core philosophy that's going to continue.
On NES Classic shortages
"Every day there's more going into the retail channel. The overall level of demand is certainly greater than we anticipated, that's why we're suffering through the shortages out there in the marketplace. We saw the NES Classic as an opportunity to engage with millennials, gen-Xers, boomers, people who had played those games back in the day, but life had gone by, and they had somewhat walked away from gaming. It was a great way to re-engage them, and our belief is that by re-engaging them, it creates an opportunity for Super Mario Run, it creates an opportunity for our 3DS business, it creates an opportunity for Nintendo Switch, because all of a sudden they're recognizing what they knew 20 or 25 years ago: they love Mario. They love Zelda. They love all of our classic IP, and they're re-engaging with it right now."
No NES games on mobile devices
"Candidly, no, without a fair amount of modification. And this hearkens back to the questions that we received maybe five years ago saying, 'Nintendo, when are you going to get into mobile?' And at the time, it was positioned as, just take all your legacy content and just put it on mobile. The fact of the matter is, to make a great mobile game, you can't do that. You need to think about the input device. You need to think about, how is this going to be sticky?"
Super Mario Run on Apple TV undecided
"You know...we haven't even launched Super Mario Run yet, so we haven't even thought about those types of applications, but again, what I would say is, we developed this to live on these kinds of screens, and to be played in this type of experience, and we think that's what it's best for. Let's see what happens after the 15th of December."
Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem mobile plans, pricing
"By the end of our current fiscal year, we'll launch Animal Crossing for smart devices, as well as Fire Emblem. Each title is its own approach in terms not only 'what is the game design,' but what is the monetization? For Super Mario Run, we believe that the right monetization is an all-in-one price. It's called Super Mario Run, not Super Mario play, stop, then pay, then run some more. And certainly, I feel that way when I play it. After I've had a great run and collected all the coins, I don't want to be asked if I want to pay for the next level or pay for some part of the game. I just want to keep going and playing. Fire Emblem, the game design and the monetization will be linked, and it'll be its own approach. Same with Animal Crossing. So as we're prepared to showcase those games, we'll highlight exactly how it's going to work."
Coming from an Engadget interview with Reggie Fils-Aime...
"As a way to satiate the desire for our IP, to introduce new IP, to effectively keep the market warm while we figure out how to do business there with our dedicated systems, [mobile] is a huge business opportunity for us. What we will do is create experiences specific to the device. We've optimized [Super Mario Run] for the [smartphone screen] -- and in doing so it really is taking an approach that is unique, is differentiated, and looks to maximize the value of our IP. We know that the launch of Pokémon Go generated a tremendous amount of play and anticipation for all things Pokémon; certainly we hope that Super Mario Run will do the same thing for all things Mario."
Reggie also made it very clear that Nintendo wants their dedicated gaming devices as well, and discussed just how the Switch differs from mobile gaming.
"Go back and look at the Nintendo Switch video that we aired back in October and ask yourself: Can you do that on a smart device? Can you have a big-screen experience and then, 'I gotta go jump on the train -- I'm going to take it with me and continue to have that great experience'?" Again he answers his question: "No, you can't do that. We believe in creating a differentiated experience for all the platforms that we participate in, and if we do that, the consumer will see how these experiences are different and how there's room for all of them in their entertainment time."
Miaymoto on Mario as a mascot, Super Mario Run, Mario's future, mobile efforts, Animal Crossing & more
Coming from a Verge interview with Shigeru Miyamoto...
On Mario's role as a gaming mascot
“I feel like Mario was what introduced millions of people to video games and interactive entertainment, and I think that Mario will continue to serve that role and I think with Super Mario Run that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
On one-button game experiments that started on Wii
“As we were doing those Wii experiments, we thought that that kind of approach would perhaps best be suited to iPhone. So that became the basis for Super Mario Run. Nintendo has been making Mario games for a long time, and the longer you continue to make a series, the more complex the gameplay becomes, and the harder it becomes for new players to be able to get into the series. We felt that by having this simple tap interaction to make Mario jump, we’d be able to make a game that the broadest audience of people could play.”
On the Pokemon GO success
“Certainly when we first embarked on our mobile strategy, a key element for us was the idea of bringing our characters and [intellectual property] to a much broader audience, but I think we were surprised by the impact that [Pokémon Go] has had in terms of bringing that audience back to our own games.”
On releasing Animal Crossing to mobile and expanding the audience for the next traditional Animal Crossing game
“We have Super Mario Run releasing now, and it’s already decided that we’ll be making a Mario game for our next system and similarly with Animal Crossing, the hope is that when we release the Animal Crossing mobile game, we’ll have more people who become familiar with the Animal Crossing world and characters, so that when we next release an Animal Crossing game we’ll have a much larger audience who will be interested.”
On what kinds of Mario games fans of Super Mario Run will want
“Super Mario Run is going to introduce millions of more people to the fun of Mario, and it’ll become the entry point for them and then the question becomes, once you’ve gone through that entry point, then what comes next? Is it a more traditional Mario experience? Is it something like the Mario Galaxy games? We’ll then have to look at what it is these new fans want from a Mario game, and we’ll continue to see Mario evolve in that way.”
On Mario's first step into mobile and the legacy of the Wii U
“I hope people will continue to recognize the areas where Nintendo has taken that first step and hopefully someday people will look back on the Wii U and think ‘Oh wow, I remember when Nintendo did that, and now look at what’s come of that.’”
Miyamoto also said that franchises like Nintendogs could potentially work better as mobile-only experiences. He went on to say that, "depending on the IP there are different opportunities."
Coming from a Nintendo Dream interview with a Nintendo rep..
“We decided that this name (Switch) would be the best fit for our product for two reasons. It represents one of the defining features of the Switch, the ability to seamlessly ‘switch’ between the TV screen and Switch’s screen, while also embodying the idea of being a ‘switch’ that will flip, and change the way people experience entertainment in their daily lives.
We wanted to show people (in the reveal trailer) just how much of an enjoyable difference it will make in their entertainment experiences, by having them see and hear for themselves what it can do in an easy-to-digest manner. It allows people to enjoy a home console experience not only in front of a TV, but in rooms with no TV, or outside altogether. And because the controllers are detachable from the main body of the console, each of its forms offer different play experiences for people to enjoy.”