Nintendo and the Nikkei – A History of Rumour Rumbles
Everyday new rumours hit the gaming news circuit, none more so than when there’s a new console on the way – and the NX is on the way you can be sure of that.
But there’s rumours, and then there’s rumours published by the Japanese publication Nikkei. Little Timmy can show a potato-cam photo of a SKU list from EB Games and a Patchy business analysts can say what they want but nothing gets the fans frothing like a good Nintendo rumour from Nikkei.
This was demonstrated this week when we saw Nikkei come out with a report saying it believes that Nintendo will discontinue production of the Wii U before the year’s out. It’s not hard to believe that one, especially considering how poorly the console has done and if we believe every other rumour on the internet the NX is minutes away from release.
So why do we, the Nintendo press give Nikkei more of a run than any other news source – what makes them so special? If you read everyone’s stories its because their track record is so good, it’s because Nintendo flatly deny their reports more than others and because they’re Japanese of course.
You see, The Nikkei is a financial newspaper (it’s actually a few of them but bear with me here) – so Nintendo responding to them, especially Nintendo Corporate commands a quick response. Nikkei is a big old financial newspaper and that newspaper influences shareholders.
So what can we do, how do we know The Nikkei is telling the truth? We don’t but there’s something we wanted to investigate and that’s it’s track record – everyone says its good right? What have they got wrong, what have they got right – what have they got sort of right. Let’s take a quick look.
Even in early 2004 the GameCube was struggling, people were already scrapping for news of Nintendo’s next console after the performance of the system wasn’t what everyone was expecting (this sound awfully familiar…)
The Nikkei, then the Nihon Keizei Shimbun reported that Nintendo was planning on releasing more ‘peripherals’ to boost the lagging sales of the purple oblong. The report also suggested Nintendo would not be releasing the successor to the GameCube for “two to three years”, these peripherals would instead be enough to keep the GameCube alive in the mean time.
There was also some confusion over comments that Satoru Iwata had made that may have suggested (out of context) that Nintendo were giving up on hardware, obviously that wasn’t the case but that’s another story.
Guess what? Nintendo denied it.
“First — much of the Nikkei article is speculation. Mr. Iwata’s comments are from a prior interview and not in direct response to the subjects raised in the article” – Nintendo of America’s director of public relations Beth Llewlyn.
“Specific details about accessories and their functions haven’t been made public yet. It’s far too early to make predictions about how well an accessory will do in the marketplace, but we’re confident our products will be compelling.”
These peripherals obviously turned out to be the GameCube microphone which was released later in 2004 and the mat for Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix. Hardly system movers.
So what about that “two or three years” comment? Well Nintendo released the Wii in Japan in December 2006, just shy of three years after this Nikkei rumour was published.
Nintendo might in a little bit of a slump right now but in 2008 things were trucking along at full speed for both the Wii and DS. So you wouldn’t want to announce a ‘new’ console that could possibly take the foot off the accelerator would you? Cue the DSi.
September 2008, Nikkei reports that Nintendo is planning to launch a new model of the Nintendo DS. This new model Nintendo DS will have ‘advanced wireless communications’ and can also take pictures and play music and will be released in Japan by the end of the year. It’s said to be the same price as the current model.
Just one day later Nintendo denied the article, well sort of;
We are always developing new products. However, since nothing has been announced officially, we are unable to comment at this time.
Just four days later, Nintendo announced the Nintendo DSi at its Fall Press Conference.
The Nintendo DS was a hit with everyone, young, old, gamer, non-gamer even monkeys – but even with the larger sized screen of the Nintendo DSi it still could be bigger right?
In October 2009, you guessed it the Nikkei reported that Nintendo was about to announce a new Nintendo DSi with a huge 4 inch screen, at the same price as the same Nintendo DSi. Seems like the Nikkei are really good at getting one part of a rumour right and then getting another one completely wrong.
But first, Nintendo’s response;
“Our company is not doing any interviews. We believe this article is speculation”
Not two days later Nintendo announced Nintendo DSi XL (or LL as it was known in Japan). It wasn’t the same price as the Nintendo DSi, but it was still real.
The Nintendo 3DS
It’s not just the Nikkei that have a track record in Japan with being speculative either, one of Japans’ national papers the Asahi Shimbun also had a run in with Nintendo in regards to the successor to the Nintendo DS. The system that would be the Nintendo 3DS.
Asahi Shimbun had an interview with Satoru Iwata, they asked him about the next The Legend of Zelda title, how Wii MotionPlus would make it amazing and then quickly touched on the successor to the Nintendo DS. The paper reported that in the interview Satoru Iwata had said the system will have “highly detailed graphics, and it will be necessary to have a sensor with the ability to read the movements of people playing.”
Nintendo flat out denied this one;
“Mr. Iwata did not make any comments regarding the functions of Nintendo’s future hardware systems, The answer to the reporter’s question was misinterpreted.”
Misinterpreted or not it ended up being true and the paper stood by its report.
But it actually got worse for Nintendo from there as the months went on, Nintendo was practically forced into announcing the Nintendo 3DS early because more leaks were on the way.
Nintendo announced the Nintendo 3DS in March 2010, way before E3 and with no information other than that it would have glasses-free 3D support.
That’s where Nikkei comes into this one. They then reported the very same day that the Nintendo 3DS was announced that it would have “plans to give the new system a 3-D joystick and a force feedback mechanism that will let players feel the collisions of a game character.” Again, half right – there’s no rumble in the Nintendo 3DS at all but there is a analog stick.
Nikkei also reported that the 3DS would again have ‘improved wireless communication speed and battery life’. Again, another thing half right.
Here’s one they actually got flat out wrong, Nikkei Trendy reported that there was a Nintendo 3DS Lite on the way in early 2012. It was set to have a larger battery and be thinner…
They were way off on this one because Nintendo actually went the other way, they announced the Nintendo 3DS XL later that year.
You’ll never guess what happens next!
Early June 2012 and the Nikkei is at it again. It reports that a new Nintendo 3DS model is on the way, a larger model with a 4.3 inch screen – you know an ‘XL’ screen.
Nintendo issued statement pretty much right away refuting the report saying it was a “speculative article” and full of errors and information that had not been confirmed. That last past was at least true on Nintendo’s behalf.
So ten days later at E3 2012 what is announced? The Nintendo 3DS XL.
So it’s not just Nintendo hardware that the Nikkei love to report on, in February 2012 they reported that Nintendo was planning on working with other publishers to bring back some of their dead IP to the Nintendo 3DS. One of those games was the Dreamcast classic Seaman.
Just days later Nintendo actually did something quite strange, they didn’t deny it with a press release. Instead, Satoru Iwata took to Twitter to refute the claims of not just Seaman DS but other rumours the Nikkei had published at the time regarding the health of Nintendo.
“on Monday there was an inaccurate report online. This sort of thing has continued repeatedly, with no context, self-serving language, and the blurring of truth and fiction. I’m astonished to see gossip magazine techniques being used.” – Satoru Iwata on Twitter
So if Satoru Iwata buries your rumour it has to be wrong right?
Well sort of, in 2015 – three years later – we learned that Seaman 3DS was indeed a thing, but was cancelled. A shame really.
Naturally this isn’t every Nintendo focused report from the Nikkei, even recently they had one regarding the NX possibly running Android. Nintendo denied that one too of course and we don’t yet know if it will be true or not.
Even in 2016 the tussle between Nintendo, Nikkei and other Japanese press seems to be quite strong. But what history has taught us is that the Nikkei is usually half right, their ability to get information from Nintendo is quite extraordinary and always prompts a response from Nintendo – more so than others.
Let’s see what they get wrong and right about the NX shall we?