news\ Sep 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Ex-Sony Exec: "Iwata Is Wrong About Social, Mobile Games"


Nintendo President Satoru Iwata recently made some bold statements regarding social and mobile gaming. During his keynote speech at this year's Game Developers Conference, Iwata argued that mobile and social games were created solely to make the developers a quick buck, mentioning the model of quantity over quality. "The platforms have no motivation to maintain the high value of video game software," stressed Iwata. "Quantity makes the money flow."

In a recent statement to IndustryGamers, a former Sony executive begged to differ with Iwata's comments on social and mobile games. Phil Harrison, former head of Sony Worldwide Studios, mentioned that while he believed Iwata was a great businessman who had taken Nintendo to new heights over the past several years, he didn't at all agree with his stance on social and mobile gaming. "Iwata-san has done a great job rebuilding Nintendo over the last few years. He is a great leader of that company, but in this particular case he is wrong," said Harrison. "He is mistaken if [he thinks] this is some kind of fad that will go away. Social networks, as a way of powering our game and entertainment choices, is here to stay."

It should be noted that since parting ways with Sony, Harrison has gone on to form London Venture Partners, where he now focuses on providing funding for up-and-coming online and mobile gaming companies. In that sense, I can see why Harrison would disagree with Iwata. In dealing firsthand with game development start-ups in the social and mobile gaming fields, Harrison probably has a good idea of the potential these companies have.

Over the past couple of weeks, the war of words between supporters of console gaming and supporters of mobile and social gaming has been heated. Mobile game creators that managed to reach crazy levels of success claim that console gaming is dying. Surveys show an increased interest in gaming on handsets. Meanwhile, console manufacturers continue to create big games, proving the medium isn't going anywhere.

While I do agree with Iwata that countless games are released with quality as an afterthought, I also believe that plenty of small developers put their heart and soul into making mobile and social games and choose those platforms specifically for their accessibility. Admittedly, I'm a much bigger fan of console gaming. I don't care much, if at all, about social networking games or downloadable games for my phone. Regardless, I understand that variety is appreciable, both for gamers and the industry as a whole. Social games continue to give the casual crowd regular doses of entertainment. Mobile gaming is hot for individuals who don't own a DS or PSP and for those who are constantly on the go. Console gaming is the perfect choice for gamers who can dedicate hours out of their week to playing video games. Each medium has a safe and secure audience.

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