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Nintendo Pinning Hopes On Simpler Games To Attract Users

by Thomas on Sept. 26, 2003 @ 6:29 a.m. PDT

The president of the Japanese software game maker, Satoru Iwata, said Friday that game consoles equipped with super-large chips and ever more functions may not be the answer for the future of the struggling games industry. Instead, easy-to-play games requiring no prior knowledge may be a better way to attract potential users, Iwata said, referring to Nintendo's surprise hit series of Pokemon software including "Pokemon Ruby" and "Pokemon Sapphire."

"Some people in the industry believe the latest and most advanced technologies will drive the future of the games business," Iwata said in a speech at Tokyo Game Show 2003. "But you need to give that view a careful thought."

Referring to the growth of the global user base of industry leader Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE - News)'s PlayStation 2 game consoles by adding DVD functions to the game machines, for example, Iwata said such successes "won't necessarily be recreated" in the future.

"I am not denying the merging of non-games functions with game consoles... nor am I denying the presence of online games as one genre," he said. "But saying that anything but online games has no value - that's absurd," he said regarding the increasing support for online and network game entertainment.

Iwata has argued that the games industry has lost opportunities in recent years because of its excessively narrow focus on advanced technologies and fancy bells and whistles that may please games fanatics but don't appeal to a wider range of customers.

"In the last few years, the games software market has shrunk, and the contraction of the market is continuing this year," he said Friday. "Some people say this it is a temporary problem until new, attractive hardware arrives... but to me, this is evidence that the market, driven by (memory) size and complexity, is reaching its limit, its saturation."

Iwata was speaking a day after Nintendo slashed the price of its GameCube consoles to $99.99 from $149 in North America to boost sales ahead of the peak holiday spending season - a move aimed at helping Nintendo close the gap with second-placed Microsoft Corp. , the maker of Xbox game consoles.

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