Nintendo missing the MMO boat?


Gamespot have interviewed Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata. Towards the end of a wide ranging interview they asked him about avatar based services. His reply revealed a lot:

“The first question I would ask is whether the service is fun if you’re 5 or 95, if you’re tech-savvy and if you’re computer illiterate. If that’s not a hurdle we can get past, it’s not something Nintendo is going to pursue.

Take the Miis, for example. Sure, we could go crazy with the interface until it was so customizable that you could make an avatar that looked like anyone you could imagine. But it’s because the interface is the way that it is now that the average person can pick it up and create a family member’s portrait and feel a personal connection to games unlike anything available in the past. Mii is the answer we came up with after a long process of questioning just how low we could keep that entrance threshold.

In that respect, the virtual-world services out there now still aren’t at a place where we’d like to join in–and certainly not to the point that we’d want to jump into competition with everybody else. We’d rather focus on doing things that nobody else would do.

Our job is to constantly look into what people find fun and interesting. I mean, nobody else wants to develop a video game where you get on the scale and see how much you weigh. [Laughs] That’s how we’re able to keep offering people surprises and entertainment, so even if we were to make a virtual-world-like product, we’d be sure to make it something that nobody would call it a product similar to another company’s offering.

This is being interpreted by most media that Nintendo will not put an MMO on Wii. But if you read it you can see that this is not what Iwata says. What he is saying is that they won’t do anything that is “me too”.

Readers here will know that there are 86 million Habbo Hotel users in the world. In comparison VG CHARTZ say that there are less than 21 million Wiis in the world. So it is obvious that Nintendo would be criminally remiss if they weren’t looking at MMOs.

It is just that they intend to do it their way.


  1. “Readers here will know that there are 86 million Habbo Hotel users in the world”

    Bruce! Not trying to sound a clever-arse but there have been 86 million different AVATARS created using Habbo Hotel since its inception, the site only averages about 6-7 million unique users per month. I know I have about 12 mii avatars I’ve created on my wii. Also, where reports claim ‘unique’ that means for that month only, not ‘7 million new users’ each consecutive month.

    I had never heard of Habbo Hotel before I had read about it on your site, it seems to have a bit more of a teen demographic than even myspace, and I’m sure used mainly for the same thing (from personal experience) : hormone-addled adolescents and late teens to hit on each other/try and pull. I’m pretty sure some of these users that have been on it merely dipped their toes in to see how the water was, so to speak. A lot may have found the Habbo Hotel metaphorical Jacuzzi a bit chilly, maybe freezing even and bailed out. Just like a lot of half-finished myspace profiles that havn’t been logged onto for months.

    I know when I was younger I loved myspace for flirting with ladies, looking at bands etc but now I’m older and I’m able to go into bars and look at real girls and listen to bands live myspace lays there like a neglected spouse, once an exciting part of my life but now much overlooked.

    I really don’t think the wider demographic of 5-95 suggested by Iwata-san would embrace a nintendo mmo as, with all due respect, the exaggerated figures in your post would like to suggest. Add to that there are probably multiple users of a wii per household and you see the number of users maybe in the range of say, 63 million?

  2. You are right.
    I was over simplifying.

    My point is that there are far more MMO players in the world than Wii players. Also many MMO players will play for hours a week whereas the Wii is a casual entertainment device so can often lie unused. So MMOs are more important to the gaming world than Wii.

    Also I think across the range of MMOs on offer there are keen players aged 8 to 70 already, before we have any Nintendo magic. Flirting is not the only reason to play MMOs!

    Lots of MMO information here:

    but they don’t even mention Habbo Hotel!

  3. Iwata is great for kids but if he doesn’t get his ass in gear and do what he knows he should do (Zelda mmo) they WILL not hesitate to fire his ass. Iwata let me state that again, Nintendo will be fine without you,… they WILL fire your ass. Make the #@@#% MMO.

Comments are closed.