The creator of Super Mario Bros. isn’t quitting his job, but he may be downsizing his role in game development. Nintendo frontman Shigeru Miyamoto made waves yesterday by delving into a frank discussion of his career plans during an exclusive interview with Wired.com, expressing his desire to stop supervising the large teams of developers responsible for popular Nintendo franchises like Zelda and Mario Kart in order to work on smaller projects.
What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself,” Miyamoto told Wired. “Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.”
Whether Miyamoto plans to work on new or existing Nintendo franchises is still unknown. We won’t know the full story until Wired publishes the complete interview next week, but the brief snippets released yesterday have sparked a debate among game enthusiasts, critics and developers about whether or not Nintendo should expend more time and resources on developing new games that do not bear established brands like Zelda, Mario or Kirby.
Even if Nintendo does ramp up development of new titles, it’s unclear whether or not Miyamoto has the freedom to pursue projects smaller than a 3DS game. While Nintendo does offer a modest catalog of downloadable games for purchase on the Wii and 3DS through the Nintendo eShop, Nintendo president Shigeru Iwata has publicly stated that the company has no intention of developing mobile games or releasing their games on mobile platforms like iOS and Android.
Amplifying this perceived disconnect between Nintendo developers and Nintendo management is a statement made by a Nintendo spokeswoman this morning that Shigeru Miyamoto will not be adopting a smaller role in the company. “"He has no intention of stepping down,” a Nintendo spokeswoman told Reuters. “Please do not be concerned."
For better or worse, things are clearly changing at Nintendo HQ. That might be a good thing if, like me, you're interested in seeing Miyamoto and other talented game developers earn the freedom to step outside the limitations of established franchises and work on projects they're passionate about.