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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK
Nintendo 'fears for games industry'
By Darren Waters
BBC News Online staff

The president of games giant Nintendo has said he fears for the future of the industry and has warned that it must innovate or die.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata
The DS was unveiled in Los Angeles
Satoru Iwata told BBC News Online that the industry had become obsessed with faster processors and better graphics.

He said unless things changed people "would get tired of games".

Mr Iwata was speaking after the launch of its new handheld console, the Nintendo DS.

The new machine, unusually, features two screens and games can be controlled by using a touch screen and voice recognition, as well as the conventional method of pressing buttons.

'Beef up'

"We are concerned about the current direction of the industry," said Mr Iwata.

"Looking at the past 20 years, as long as we could beef up the processing power, as long as we could make computer graphics approach realism, then people were excited about the result.

"Some of the people in the industry still believe we can simply beef up the current technology in order to provide a constant supply of games to people.

Nintendo DS handheld
Nintendo DS is to be released at the end of 2004
"We don't agree with that."

Mr Iwata hopes the DS will give games developers a chance to be more innovative as well as excite a new generation of gamers.

"Nintendo wants to bring gamers and games back to the start line of 20 years ago," he said.

"In order to do this, touch panel and voice input systems will have big possibilities.

"The players of DS will have even wider demographics than today. I hope people realised a DS game can be played by a three year old and a 50 year old returning to games. "

Handheld battle

Nintendo's approach is markedly different from that of rivals Sony or Microsoft.

Sony boasts that its new handheld machine, the PSP, will rival the power of its PlayStation 2 while Microsoft is building an online global network which it hopes will dominate the next generation of machines.

Sony PSP
Sony's PSP will also play movies
Mr Iwata said he feared current games with their emphasis on complexity, realism and sophisticated control systems were alienating many potential gamers.

He said he wanted the DS to be a return to the simplicity of the two-button console, which Nintendo pioneered.

"What we have come up with as the answer is to change how you feel and touch with the console.

"We have to radically change the whole structure of how the game is played."

He also insisted that Nintendo had no intention of dropping out of the hardware business.

"I can tell you confidently that Nintendo has internally talented hardware and software design teams.

"Nintendo understands what makes a good game and understands gamers.

"We have a very strong financial backbone," he said.

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