Nintendo is a company built around IP (Intellectual Property). Their characters, such as Mario, Link, and Samus are why their fans keep buying Nintendo systems and games. This became abundantly clear with the release of Amiibo, which have become a key platform in Nintendo’s initiative to capitalize on all of their existing IP.
However, making new characters has been a struggle, with new ones appearing at a steady pace, but still rather rare compared to releases in the main series. At a recent investor’s Q&A the recently appointed president of Nintendo, Tatsumi Kimishima addressed this.
Answering the question “You explained that Nintendo is working on deploying Nintendo’s character IP widely and expanding the gaming population. In terms of new IP, Splatoon is doing very well, but I would like to know the current issues on creating new IP for the expansion of the gaming population.”
Kimishima responded “Creating new, and moreover, appealing IP has been a challenge we have been dealing with from the past. However, just creating new IP one after another will not yield a good result. We know the result only after a new IP is released, and it is imperative that we put forward different play experiences from the existing ones and originality whenever we introduce people to our new IP. Such originality will be lost if I talk in specifics here at this moment, so I only explained the direction for which we are aiming.”
While some have criticized Nintendo for a lack of new IP, when you look at their history, they’ve actually been introducing new characters quite often. Pushmo and Splatoon are the more recent major successes, though others were released along the way. Many of those just didn’t catch on like other characters though, backing up Kimishima’s statement that new IP is a challenge to create and isn’t inherently valuable.