Miyamoto: There Is a ‘Limit’ to How Hardware Grows Nintendo’s Brand

In a call with investors for the most recent financial quarter, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto said that in the era of IP, Nintendo has to consider ways to grow the Nintendo brand beyond the hardware race with Sony and Microsoft.During a Q&A with investors to discuss Nintendo’s Q3 2020 performance, Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto was asked about Nintendo’s plan to develop its intellectual property (IP) and how Nintendo will increase its reach in a competitive “IP-based content industry.”

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Miyamoto agreed with the IP-focused nature of the industry saying, “Nintendo has long been thought of as part of a race to produce the video game hardware. Lately, I feel like that conversation about competition between Nintendo and other game companies is happening less and less.”

Miyamoto reaffirmed that “Only Nintendo developers can use the character of Mario as we feel best… and we have closely guarded our rights so that we don’t lose that freedom in developing our games.” But Miyamoto also discussed the benefits of expanding into other mediums like theme parks, animated movies, and mobile phones.

“[T]here is a limit to how many consumers will be able to engage with Mario if their contact point is limited to dedicated video game systems,” said Miyamoto. “That recognition is highly valued by us, and we will continue to grow the number of people who come in contact with our Nintendo characters as we continue working on our unique initiatives.”

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Miyamoto’s comments about being less in a console hardware race, and more in an IP-focused competition echoes remarks made by Xbox boss Phil Spencer who said that Amazon and Google were Microsoft’s biggest competition in gaming, not Sony and Nintendo.

Spencer was referring to Microsoft’s cloud business, which is directly competing with Amazon and Google’s cloud technologies. This technology also powers Google and Microsoft’s video game streaming service — Stadia and xCloud respectively. Nintendo doesn’t have a cloud business, though reports say the company could work with Microsoft for future streaming services.

While Miyamoto talks about the importance of Nintendo’s unique approach to game development and hardware, he seems to be acknowledging a limit to how big Nintendo’s brand can get through systems alone. Nintendo has spent the past few years expanding into the smartphone space partnering with studios like DeNA and Cy Games to create hit mobile games like Fire Emblem: Heroes and Dragalia Lost.Nintendo also partnered with Universal Studios to open up a series of themed Super Nintendo World resorts at Universal parks, and an animated movie starring Mario is also in the works from the animation studio behind the Minions movies.

In an era of increasing competition from new technologies and consolidation of IP, it appears that both Nintendo and Microsoft are looking beyond the console wars that defined previous gaming generations.

Matt Kim is a reporter for IGN. You can reach him on Twitter.

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