In a recent interview with Wenner Media’s Glixel, Mario-creator Shigeru Miyamoto opens up about the creative development process, working with Apple, and the upcoming Super Mario Run for iOS. Miyamoto describes approaching Apple on the idea for the game, and working with Cupertino leadership that was willing to listen.
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Nintendo has long been considered to be a company that’s similar to Apple in some ways, and Miyamoto expresses this in the interview. Both companies have a long history of being opinionated as to the creative process. Instead of creating products based on what they think customers will like based on approaches like focus groups, they create products that customers like because the products themselves are really good:
For me it’s much more fun to see if the thing that I made is actually going to sell well. Rather than me trying to create something that I think other people will like, I just keep making things that I like and then I just see if other people like them too.
Of course, the recent publicity tour by Shigeru Miyamoto was motivated by the impending launch of Super Mario Run, the Big N’s first real foray into the mobile space on a platform not controlled by Nintendo itself. The fact that such a title is headlined by the most popular video game character in history just serves to up the stakes a bit.
As such, Nintendo and Apple are pulling out all the stops. Miyamoto himself appeared during Apple’s iPhone launch event to announce Super Mario Run, and took a significant portion of the keynote to demonstrate its gameplay. Apple has also worked hard to promote the title by featuring a banner in the App Store well prior to the game’s launch, and allowing users to be notified when it becomes available — a first for an App Store title.
And that’s not all. Last week Miyamoto-san appeared on the Tonight Show, where host Jimmy Fallon played through one of the game’s levels. Afterwards Apple launched a playable Super Mario Run demo in Apple retail stores nationwide.
It’s clear that both companies understand that this partnership is historic in nature, and as such, are going above and beyond to promote it properly. Miyamoto himself describes the similarities between Apple and Nintendo:
Probably the that easiest thing to point to is the fact that Apple, like Nintendo, is a company that thinks about how people will use their products. We design things to be usable by a very broad range of people. They put a lot of effort into the interface and making the product simple to use, and that’s very consistent with Nintendo.
Speaking of simplicity, Nintendo wanted to go back to Mario’s roots, noting how complex control has become over the years:
When we first made Super Mario Bros. 30 years ago, obviously a lot of people played it and part of the reason they liked it was that all you did was move to the right and jump. It was pretty simple. Gradually Mario games have become more complex and it’s harder for people to control now. This time we started off with the idea of “what if we made a Mario game where all you do is jump and everything else is handled automatically?”
After deciding that it didn’t want to go the free-to-play route, Nintendo presented an idea for a paid title with a free taste to demonstrate the game’s simplified one-handed gameplay:
Naturally the people on the App Store initially told us that the free-to-play approach is a good one, but I’ve always had this image that Apple and Nintendo have very similar philosophies. As we started working together, I found that to be true and they became very welcoming of trying something new.
I really encourage you to head over to Glixel and read the full interview. It’s an interesting look into the mind of the greatest video game creative in gaming history, and a subtle view into the working relationship between Apple and Nintendo. Miyamoto also talks about retirement, Minecraft, and a host of other topics.