Miyamoto wonders why Pikmin hasn’t sold more and why people think the games are difficult
In a new interview published today, Shigeru Miyamoto commented on the Pikmin series and said he’s wondered why the games haven’t sold more and why people think they’re so difficult.
For Pikmin 4, it sound like Nintendo wanted to make the game as approachable as possible. The company’s Yuji Kando said the team “prioritized ease of play and experimented with making the controls easy enough for those who aren’t used to playing games.” Camera and AI improvements were a focus as well. Miyamoto added that Nintendo wanted to “retain the depth of gameplay that makes Pikmin so interesting, while providing the functional support to address the challenges around controls.”
Here’s the full interview excerpt:
Miyamoto: There have been three games in the series until now, from Pikmin to Pikmin 3, and personally I’ve always wondered, “Why haven’t they exploded more in sales even though they’re so much fun to play? Why do people think they’re so difficult?”
Many people seem to think the characters are cute, but that the games themselves are a bit difficult. Pikmin die if you make the wrong decision, so there may be some fear of losing them.
Miyamoto: I get that people find it more difficult when death is a factor. But I think the franchise’s strength lies in its relationship with mortality. If something is irreversible, you need to figure out a way to prevent undesired things from happening. To try to prevent Pikmin from dying, you need to practice “Dandori.” (11) To me, that’s what makes this game unique. I think people find Pikmin difficult for two reasons: the controls and the depth of gameplay. I spent a long time mulling over how we could convey these points as “interesting” rather than “difficult.”
(11) A Japanese word that means “to think about planning and efficiency in advance to get things done smoothly.”
Kando: Yes, looking at players’ reactions to the first three games, I’ve also thought really hard about how to get more people to play this game. In the early stages of development, we prioritized ease of play and experimented with making the controls easy enough for those who aren’t used to playing games. We also tested improvements to the camera and AI. Also, it just doesn’t feel like a Pikmin game to me if it’s not like the first one. That is, if it doesn’t have this Dandori element where players learn and become more efficient through repetition.
So, it was clear to the development team that the first game set the tone for the Pikmin series.
Miyamoto: We were talking about how we want as many people as possible to play Pikmin 4, but if it’s not Pikmin-like enough, we won’t meet the expectations of those who’ve enjoyed the series until now. The first game provided a deeper challenge, while the second game was broader in terms of content, and we went back to something closer to the first one in Pikmin 3. But after thinking about it, I realized that we could do both. We could retain the depth of gameplay that makes Pikmin so interesting, while providing the functional support to address the challenges around controls.
Kando: So, we implemented a variety of supporting features to expand the Dandori gameplay. We wanted players to enjoy the game in greater depth and for longer by offering those Dandori elements, while removing the time limit. So basically, Pikmin 4 gets all the good things from the first and second titles. (Laughs)
Pikmin 4 is due out for Switch on July 21, 2023.