Nintendo has struggled mightily in their quest to attract third party developers to Wii U and 3DS, which makes it more important now than ever that they have a steady supply of solid first party content. As such, Nintendo EAD General Manager Shigeru Miyamoto has revealed that Nintendo is looking to increase their internal development staff, allowing them to work on more projects at once.
Miyamoto explained that his company has been gradually increasing the staff at Nintendo’s Tokyo Studio for some time, but they are eyeing a bigger expansion in the future. This plan includes hiring more staff, finding better ways to leverage internal studios like Retro, and fostering relationships between internal developers and outside companies that are in line with Nintendo’s expectations.
A big complaint early in the life cycles of both Wii U and 3DS was a lack of quality games. Without a strong lineup of third party exclusives, Nintendo has had to rely almost exclusively on their own IPs. While Nintendo takes exception to the idea that their franchises are getting stale, many have suggested that they outsource in order to spark creativity and create more games in a shorter time frame. According to Miyamoto, this is not the direction Nintendo plans to take.
[We've] been working on what we can do to increase our internal staff in a way that will allow us to have more projects going at the same time.
We’re doing this not by going out of house to different companies and having them develop games for us, but instead by working with partner companies and subsidiaries in a way that allows the Tokyo studio to run more projects.
Nintendo’s Tokyo Studio is its biggest and most prominent development team, but it’s certainly not the only weapon in Nintendo’s arsenal. Both Monolith Soft and Retro Studios have expanded their work force by a considerable amount. This all seems to be part of Miyamoto’s expansion plan, as he’s eyeing bigger and better things from Retro in the future.
Certainly we do feel that we want to leverage the capabilities of Retro Studios further, because as we’ve seen from the Metroid games, they’re a very capable studio.
Nintendo prefers to keep in-house studios in charge of first party content, but that doesn’t mean third party development of key titles is completely out of the question. After all, Retro’s work on Metroid Prime began in 2000 – two years before Nintendo purchased a majority of their stock and established them as a first party studio. In more recent times, Nintendo entrusted Next Level Games with the development of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. That said, Nintendo has some very specific guidelines in place for handing their games over to third party developers.
In the past, we had what we called the collaboration projects, which were sort of like an outside company almost doing a cover of our games with their own studios. The determination that we’ve come to more recently is that we prefer to have an internal Nintendo producer who’s there to oversee any outside development work that’s happening, to make sure that it’s in line with what we expect out of our games.
I guess in one sense, some of those outside companies that we worked with, they also have a tendency to continue to work on the same projects over time. They tend to look more like internal companies or internal partners than they really actually are.
What do you think of Nintendo’s strategies? Should they be less strict about looking to outside companies for help, or are they wise to keep their big titles in the hands of their trusted, in-house developers? What Nintendo studios would you like to see become more active, and what third party companies would you like to see Nintendo form closer relationships with? Let us know what you think in the comments.