A common topic came up continuously during the Q&A session of Nintendo’s recent financial results briefing: Wii U game delays.
Iwata first commented specifically about games that will finally release starting with Pikmin 3. Its arrival will mark the start of new and significant first-party software releases for Wii U. However, Iwata explained that delays of first-party titles was necessary, otherwise “The brand of a franchise would be completely degraded without customer satisfaction.”
We originally planned to release a few first-party titles for Wii U during the first half of this year, but no big titles are scheduled for release before “Pikmin 3” in July because we decided to take time to add the final touches to ensure that consumers fully feel that they are valuable titles. The brand of a franchise would be completely degraded without customer satisfaction. This is why we delayed the release schedule of such games.
Iwata commented on Wii U game delays once more later in the Q&A session, noting that the lack of steady releases contributed to a decline in momentum:
It is a fact that Wii U currently has lost momentum owing to longer-than-expected intervals between software releases. We were faced with the alternatives of taking time to refine our products or launching them without too many intervals, and after careful consideration, we selected the first option because we believe that from a mid-and-long term perspective it is more important to improve customer satisfaction with each game. Development always bears many uncertainties and a delay in release is not necessarily a consequence of insufficient management of development teams. Needless to say, our new management will appropriately supervise our development teams. I have always been involved in many sections of the company, and the Software Planning & Development Division, one of our two software development divisions, has been under my direct control since 2004. After the changes of directors we announced, Mr. Shinya Takahashi will replace me in that position to oversee the daily management of that division, which I believe will spare me enough time to supervise our overseas operations.
Last but not least, Iwata revealed the specifics as to why some first-party titles weren’t ready on time. According to the Nintendo president, additional resources were needed in order to properly launch Wii U, causing game development teams to be understaffed.
The reason for the delayed release of our first-party titles was the fact that completing the games released at the same time as the launch of Wii U required more development resources than expected, so some staff members from development teams working on other titles had to help complete them. In short, the development teams of “Pikmin 3” and other future games were understaffed during that period. We do not simply have one easily identifiable bottleneck in software development.