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Consumers have gobbled up more than 50 million Wiis worldwide since Nintendo launched the console in 2006 — making it the fastest-selling piece of video-game hardware in history, according to Satoru Iwata, the company’s president.
What’s the secret to the company’s success? Iwata told Game Developers Conference attendees that Nintendo sees game-development opportunities in places that other companies don’t — and uses a strategy called “the upward spiral” to bring them to life:
— Pull ideas from everywhere: Nintendo’s game ideas come from “observing people having fun.” Iwata said the company’s founder is intensely curious; he examines activities that people are enjoying to figure out exactly which parts of it are the most fun for them. Watching a puppy play, for example, inspired the Nintendogs game. That curiosity has disseminated through the company — which is why Nintendo’s games are popular with both “core” gamers and people that have never played games before. More after the jump.
— Small teams, intimate communication: The company keeps its teams small to foster discussion; team members also work on multiple projects, so that inspiration and insights can flow across games (and devices).
— Focus on the way it works, first: During the initial development stage, Nintendo keeps its small teams focused on the nuts and bolts of games — not graphics, not storyline — just the gameplay mechanics.