Top 10 Tuesday: Wildest Statements Made by Industry Veterans
These guys are videogame legends, but that doesn't mean they don't make mistakes. Crazy quotes inside.
by Matt Casamassina
March 14, 2006 - Welcome to IGN's weekly countdown of the exceptional, fascinating, and absurd: something we like to call Top 10 Tuesday. Every week we'll feature the top ten games, characters, fashion statements or whatever else we can think of that in some way relates to gaming and its history. And just because it's called Top 10 Tuesday doesn't mean it's always going to be a list of the best -- we like to razz on stuff as much as praising it. From counting down the best consoles ever to revealing the worst use of fish heads in a videogame, this is where it's at.
This week, we're taking a look at the boldest, craziest or downright stupidest statements made by some of the industry's legends during the last 15 years. We're talking about everyone from former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi to "the father of the PlayStation" himself, Ken Kutaragi. Yes, these are the innovators - the pioneers of the videogame business as we know it today, but nobody's perfect, and today's selection of colorful quotes will, we think, more than demonstrate our point.
We aren't simply going to throw quotes at you, though. As you'll see below, we've not only listed some of our favorite verbal missteps, but have also provided some context as to when and why these statements were made. So sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the entertainment.
10) Peter Moore's Lucid Dream
At the Electronics Entertainment Expo 2005, Microsoft's head of Interactive Entertainment Business, Peter Moore, got more than a little carried away with his promise of high-definition games. The former SEGA man praised Xbox 360 and stated: "Next generation games will combine unprecedented audio and visual experiences to create worlds that are beyond real and they'll deliver storylines and gameplay so compelling that it will feel like living a lucid dream. The result is a state where you achieve the perfect mind-body equilibrium as you forget your physical surroundings and you become completely immersed in the game itself; this controller becomes an extension of your body, it becomes the gateway to the Zen of gaming." That's deep stuff, Peter.
9) Trip's New Printing Press
Several years after the demise of his ill-fated 3DO console, Trip Hawkins had nothing but respect for Sony's soon-to-be-launched PlayStation 2 platform. The industry veteran, who co-founded Electronic Arts before leaving to start 3DO, may, in fact, have overstated the importance of Sony's next-generation machine… slightly. We'll let you be the judge. Here's what the industry legend had to say of the system: "[PS2 is…] historic, a mass-market appliance that fundamentally changes society in the way the printing press did." In hindsight, the arrival of PS2 didn't change society, as Trip figured it would, but it did elevate the Metal Gear franchise to new levels of greatness. Who's to say that's less important?
8) Iwata Doesn't Want Online Games
Former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi may be retired (and frozen in a cryogenic coffin), but he would be proud of new company head Satoru Iwata for his May, 2004 assertion that, "Customers do not want online games." The Big N has long made bold claims about the marketplace based solely about what is - or, as it happens, isn't - happening in Japan, but this one definitely earns Iwata a spot on our list. Two years later, we're quite confident that two million Xbox Live subscribers, more than five million World of Warcraft subscribers and, ironically, more than a million DS Wi-Fi Connection users would disagree with Iwata's statement.
7) Yamauchi on Microsoft
Quite honestly, we could have easily compiled a Top 10 list of outlandish quotes from Hiroshi Yamauchi alone, but in the interest of playing fair we've narrowed it down to just a few choice excerpts. This is one of them. In 2000, prior to the launch of either GameCube or Xbox, Yamauchi made some cocky predictions about the battle to follow. As you will see, the console war didn't pan out exactly as the respected leader anticipated. "There are many people in the industry that know nothing about games. In particular, a large American company is trying to do engulf software houses with money, but I don't believe that will go well. It looks like they'll sell their game system next year, but we'll see the answer to that the following year." To Yamauchi's credit, Xbox was a failure in Japan, but it has outpaced GameCube on a global level.
6) Kutaragi's Outrageous Boasts
The "father of the PlayStation," Sony's Ken Kutaragi, has over the years made some spectacular predictions of his own. Prior to the launch of PlayStation 2, the outspoken executive seemed convinced that his new console was 'the one.' He said of the platform: "You can communicate to a new cybercity. Did you see the movie The Matrix? Same interface. Same concept. Starting from next year, you can jack into The Matrix!" Right, Ken. Do us a favor: don't rent Johnny Mnemonic. We can, however, at least understand Kutaragi's attempt to hype PlayStation 2. We're not sure what his intentions are when he speaks about the system's successor, the PlayStation 3. Last year, Kutaragi explained: "[PS3] is not a game machine. We've never once called it a game machine. I'm not going to reveal [the PS3's] price today. I'm going to only say that it'll be expensive. I'm aware that with all these technologies, the PS3 can't be offered at a price that's targeted towards households." Uh, right…
5) Kelly Flock Talks Liquid AI
If you're a prominent figure in the development community, here's a word to the wise: do not get drunk before or while being interviewed by a popular videogame magazine. Former 989 Studios captain Kelly Flock learned this lesson the hard way after his interview with Next Generation Magazine hit newsstands in April of 1998. In it, Flock angrily dismissed then-rival Electronic Arts' Madden Football games, claiming that these efforts were shallow copies of 989's GameDay football games. At the time, EA had been touting the arrival of Madden's new liquid AI, to which Flock said: "Liquid AI is the crap that ran down [EA's] leg when they saw GameDay." Years later, EA's Madden football titles encapsulate one of the most lucrative franchises in videogame history. GameDay, in contrast, is a distant memory.
4) Yamauchi's RPG Hate
Years after Square jumped off the Nintendo ship to support PlayStation with a series of smash-hit Final Fantasy role-playing games, Nintendo's retired president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, made some hilarious comments about the booming genre - and about the people drawn to it. "[People who play RPGs are] depressed gamers who like to sit alone in their dark rooms and play slow games," he noted in a 1999 interview. Yamauchi - who incidentally has prided himself on the fact that he has never played a videogame - went on to call RPGs as a whole both "silly and boring." Square Enix's Final Fantasy and DragonQuest RPGs continue to rank amongst the highest-selling games whenever they are released in Japan or America.
3) Koster Rips Single-Player Games
We've seen some out-there ideas in our time, but this one from famed designer Raph Koster, who has worked on some of today's hottest MMOs (including Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest), takes the cake. In a DICE 2006 interview, Koster explained his position on single-player games. And no, we haven't made the following quote up. "The single-player game is a strange mutant monster which has only existed for 21 years and is about to go away because it is unnatural and abnormal." Thanks, Raph. Memo to Capcom and Sony: Resident Evil 4 and God of War - incidentally the two most critically acclaimed titles of 2005 -- are apparently unnatural and abnormal. Please try to keep this in mind as you partake in money fights with the millions made from each project.
2) Trip's "Whoops" on Polygons
Trip Hawkins has often made a business out of predicting the future. He left Apple Computer in 1982 to found Electronic Arts, and the rest has been history. But he hasn't always been right, as evidenced first with his doomed 3DO console, and second in the quote below. Prior to the release of PlayStation, Trip had this to say about the console and the direction to which Sony was taking it: "Sony have had a graphic workstation business; they understand polygon rendering and have special customers that demand it. But I think when Sony come to market they might discover that they've underestimated how important traditional cell animation is and overrated the importance of polygon rendering." Whoops. Even as 3DO was going bust, PlayStation and Saturn were igniting a polygonal revolution that has carried the games industry for three generations.
1) Yamauchi Knows Gamers
Nintendo's unwavering former front man nabs himself the coveted number-one position on our list with a quote that unflinchingly demonstrates his opinion on advancing videogame technology, which is, simply, that it's bad. Take it away, Yamauchi. "I have been saying this for some time, but customers are not interested in grand games with higher-quality graphics and sound and epic stories. Only people who do not know the videogame business would advocate the release of next-generation machines when people are not interested in cutting-edge technologies." Yamauchi made this statement in early 2004, during a period when he had been keen to say that Nintendo was not in any hurry to launch a successor to GameCube. The company announced its next generation platform, Revolution, months later at E3 2004.