The internet has been abuzz this morning. The mastermind behind nearly every major Nintendo franchise including Mario and Zelda told Wired.com in an interview that he was retiring. Now, numerous websites are presenting misleading headlines, but I’m here to spell it all out for you.
Shigeru Miyamoto is not retiring. He stated in that interview that he is simply stepping down from his management position so he can get his hands dirty on the development process again, and work with younger developers so he might train them to do make that same magic that Miyamoto does.
Nintendo themselves are firing out and saying Miyamoto is NOT stepping down, he’s simply taking a new focus.
While it’s perfectly understandable to panic at first when seeing all these headlines and news coming all at once, I assure you all that this is a very good direction that Miyamoto is taking. It’s because of a simple misinterpretation that everyone thinks otherwise.
Miyamoto has had a position over the past several years so that he’s actually had very little creative direction with much of Nintendo‘s recent successes. He’s been a creative manager, which means when people come up with ideas, he either approves them or doesn’t. There have, of course, been a few exceptions. Super Mario Galaxy was entirely Miyamoto’s direction, and Zelda: Twilight Princess and Pikmin are some of Miyamoto’s most recent work where he played the biggest part.
This means that for all of you that were ever hoping that Nintendo would finally have a great new IP, this is the time that it will finally happen.
I briefly met Miyamoto at this past E3. It was a shocking experience. Here I was, a budding game journalist at my first E3 ever and standing right in front of me was the man responsible for a great deal of my favorite childhood and recent games. He was clearly busy, so I briefly thanked him for everything he’s done and got out of his way. Keep in mind that this was almost directly after the Nintendo conference in which the Wii U was unveiled, so he must have had a lot on his mind.
Think about that for a minute. At E3, the single biggest even in our gaming industry, the story I keep falling back on is just a few seconds with Miyamoto. It wasn’t all the yet-to-be-released games that I managed to get my hands on. It wasn’t the people I interviewed for games that would go on to gain critical acclaim like Skyrim and Assassin’s Creed. It wasn’t even attending a Video Games Live concert that same night and meeting several of my favorite video game composers in the after show meet-and-greet. The single greatest memory from such a memorable few days was only a few seconds. That’s how much of an impact this man has made.
Whether you’ve ever been a fan of Nintendo or not, we all owe it to Miyamoto. If it weren’t for his influence on the industry more than 20 years ago, we wouldn’t have other, younger development teams working to strive on creating such memorable characters and worlds. We’d have 300 different iterations of Madden and Call of Duty every year, and there’d be no inspiration left in the industry. Hell, even Cliff Blezinski, the guy behind the Gears of War series admits that Miyamoto is a huge inspiration to him, and there’s clearly a lot of room between Zelda and Gears.
I, for one, am incredibly excited to see what happens with Miyamoto next. The excitement of getting a new franchise from the person responsible for so many of my other favorite franchises is an almost electric feeling. It’s like if an new, old-school Disney movie was released instead of the multiple re-releases on different formats.
But Miyamoto isn’t stupid. He knows he can’t keep up game development his whole life. He just celebrated his 59th birthday last month after all. Part of this working with younger developers is so his legacy stays alive when he really does have to step down one day. I really hope that day is far off, but you never know.
We all have reasons to pay attention to Nintendo for the next few years. Be it to see what the heck happens with the Wii U or to see what Miyamoto has up his sleeve next. The important thing to remember is that Shigeru Miyamoto will be there every step of the way, just as he’s always been.
What say you, gamers? What do you think is next for Mr. Miyamoto?
State of the Game is an opinionated column written by We Got This Covered writer, Mike Niemietz, about the art, politics and technology of the video game industry. The views expressed in State of the Game are not necessarily those of We Got This Covered or anyone on it’s staff. To contact the writer, or request a topic for a future edition of State of the Game, leave a comment here, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, message Mike Niemietz on Facebook, or follow Mike on Twitter @State0fTheGame.