It’s a little over two weeks until the Wii U launches, and Shigeru Miyamoto is stopping off in Paris on the way back from a trip to Spain to receive the Prince of Asturias award – a prestigious honour presented in the past to people like Bob Dylan and Günter Grass . He seems characteristically unfazed by it all, and by the impending launch of Nintendo’s new console; usually when you talk to anyone in the games industry when they’re building up to a big launch, they look like they haven’t slept in about a month. But then, Miyamoto has done this many times before. As a man who has been there for every single Nintendo home entertainment launch in history, you’ve got to wonder whether it even affects him anymore.
“Of course I’ve experienced a number of times how we as a company launch new hardware, and each time I have to confess I am more nervous than excited,” he laughs. Something’s different this time around, though. For once, there are no immediate competitors on the horizon; Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are hardly new to the market.
“I have to confess I am more nervous than excited”
“So far, whenever we’ve launched a new hardware platform to the market, people tended to regard us as the competition,” says Miyamoto. “They’d discuss how Nintendo would be able to compete with other companies by launching the new hardware. Within ourselves, we have never thought like that.. But it was inevitable that people tended to see things that way. However this time around, I think we are in a better position to be able to forecast upon our messaging, and our messaging is that we are proposing new, unique opportunities.”
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To say that the Wii U is launching into an entirely competition-free arena, though, would be ridiculous. Microsoft and Sony may not be launching new consoles in the immediate future, but this time around Nintendo’s competition is coming from all-new sources. In the five years since Nintendo’s last home console launch, the way that most people play games has changed vastly, shifting from bespoke consoles to phones, tablets and browsers. Even the living-room landscape is different, as laptops, netbooks and iPads invade the space formerly devoted to the television screen.