Iwata on mergers, online, and the GameCube battle

Will Nintendo merge?

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Iwata on mergers, online, and the GameCube battle
No, according to Satoru Iwata, the newly crowned king of all things Nintendo. In an interesting interview translated by Xen, Iwata is asked about the possibility of a tie-in with another firm.

“A year ago I don't think anyone would have predicted the Square and Enix merger, so things are always changing. While Nintendo has partnered with other companies for software development, we have no plans whatsoever to explore a possible merger or buyout.” And this is not surprising as analysts are now widely predicting that the next phase of Pokemania will be as big, if not bigger, than it was last time.

As ever, Iwata was asked about the firm’s wider online plans, making us feel a little sorry for him. We can’t remember the last time the jolly GameCube giant was greeted by press without this raising its head.

“All the talk in the industry regarding online gaming has been misleading. Network swindlers have made it seem like companies can't survive in this business without network compatibility,” he said. “That's the same type of rhetoric people have been saying about the newspaper business, that the paper-based periodical business will be dead in three years. In reality, the number of users willing to pay a monthly fee for online games is small. Many of the American companies who were focusing almost exclusively on network games last year now view network capabilities as an advertising tool. The fact of the matter is, network games can't provide a stable source of profit for a company of Nintendo's scale.”

Surely Nintendo must look with envy at Microsoft’s Xbox Live system, powered as it is by an unlimited supply of cash. Nintendo will undoubtedly offer an inferior service. So is this talk of the market being “misleading” simply a diversionary tactic? We’ll have to wait and see.

Talking of the three-way console war that has raged now for a year, Iwata proved he is a realist as well as an optimist. “The domestic battle intensified last year although overall sales were down 30-40 percent, so the situation was severe. However, sales of Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire have exceeded 4 million units since their release on November 21, and have also lifted sales of the Game Boy Advance. Going forward, we plan to release more games which feature compatibility between GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Our sales target of 50 million units by March 2005 hasn't changed.”

Surely the best answer ever. It might as well have been, “Ha, ha, we really don’t care as Pokemon sales will outstrip everything that has come before and power us on forever!” Or something.

Again, respect to Xen for the translation.
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