Mark Bozon is one of the newest editors at IGN.com. He covers the Nintendo channels, mainly Revolution. He recently took some time to talk with NintendoSpin about Nintendo, IGN, and E3. Here’s the interview:
How did you become involved with IGN and the Revolution channel, and how do you feel about that opportunity?
I guess to answer this question I’d have to start a bit earlier than just the last few months. I’ve grown up a hardcore gamer my entire life (when I was born my older brother was 12. He was a huge influence in gaming early on). At the age of 14 I started working with WayForward Technologies, a 3rd party GBA and DS developer. At the time, they worked mainly with PC games, so I got my start there. My bro is still the creative director at the company, so I would work with him whenever I had summer vacation or Spring Break at school. It was a great break-in to the industry.
As I got older I realized that gaming was more than just a hobby, it was a passion. I started working more major roles at WayForward, everything from QA to level design, game design and producer work. I was actually working with WayForward when I interviewed with IGN, originally for the Xbox 360 and PSP channels. I’d known Craig for years, so when the option for a Nintendo Team interview arrived the IGN guys quickly moved me over. IGN’s been my dream job for nearly a decade, so you can imagine my excitement.
How do I feel about it? Great. I love IGN, the people I work with rock and the community is great. I want to bring a new level of entertainment to the Nintendo sites as well, not just filling a gap as a “Mini-Matt” or “Mini-Craig.” My goal is to bring something fresh to the table.
Working at IGN, you’re privy to information that most folks usually don’t get for some time, how difficult is it to keep that information to yourself?
Oh man… really difficult. I’ve always been a gaming fanatic, so getting info before everyone else is really something special. The only real problem is I have nobody to talk to about it! Haha.
What sort of goals do you have professionally, at IGN or otherwise?
Well like I said, I want to bring something new to IGN. I’ve got a huge love for Nintendo’s past, and hopefully you guys can see that with the Retro Remix feature and GBA Gems. I also have a huge love for import gaming, which I’m currently working on incorporating.
Another important aspect of IGN is the fans. I love our readers (hell, I was one for years… still am) so naturally community is a huge part of my free time.
You cover Nintendo on one of the largest videogame sites, which means you must be a big fan. How long have you been a fan of Nintendo and which of their franchises do you enjoy the most?
Fan since birth. I love Nintendo. I was a SNES fan over Genesis, N64 over PS1 ect… I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for pocket gaming (as I worked with GBC and GBA a ton), and Nintendo offers the best pocket gaming there is.
Franchises: Castlevania is a huge one for me. It’s my all-time favorite. Mega Man is also a huge one on my list, as well as Mario (worth mentioning?) and of course Zelda. I’m also a huge Mario Kart fanatic.
As a fellow Nintendo fan and Nintendo site editor, I’m sure you’ve had moments where you’ve questioned at least one of their business decisions. Is there one Nintendo decision that stands out in your mind as the absolute worst?
Haha. Oh man. Virtual Boy. Nuff said.
Of course, Nintendo is moving in a completely new direction now. What do you think of their “Blue Ocean” strategy, and the prospects for the Revolution in the upcoming console generation?
Oh, I love the Blue Ocean strategy. I’m a huge fan of it in general and I think Nintendo will adapt well to it. It’s worked great so far with Nintendo DS, and I can only imagine what they can do with Revolution.
An important note: Blue Ocean has been used by tons of companies before Nintendo. However, the strategy demands strong marketing. Nintendo has to be fearless this generation. If they aren’t they won’t disrupt anything.
Nintendo is finally online with the DS, and it’s been quite successful in getting people to log on and play. What do you think Nintendo has to do in order to compete with the current online king, Microsoft, in the console arena?
Nintendo’s always stated that they wouldn’t go online until it was free and easy to the user. Now that it is, they need to be more aggressive with what they offer. True, players love freebies, but Xbox Live has proved that plenty of people are willing to pay top dollar for a strong service. If Nintendo wants to take back the #1 spot they’ll have to understand that “free and easy” doesn’t necessarily mean “effective.”
What are your honest thoughts on the Revolution controller? Do you think it will be as revolutionary as Nintendo expects?
Oh yes. On to the controller.
Personally, I love it. The Revmote (as fans have begun calling it) is a great idea. It isn’t flawless, however, and the fact that it is totally new means it really has to prove itself. Players need to be comfortable with it (games can’t require people to hold the remote out for hours on end, for example), and above all it has to be better than the other options. So far we love how it controls, we’ll just have to see if it can really become the industry standard like Nintendo hopes.
Again, innovation is great but it has to be better as well. Nintendo simply has to prove it.
On Nintendo fans:
You’re one of the most active IGN editors when it comes to interacting with other gamers on message boards, do you think it’s important for videogame editors to listen and talk with other gamers on a regular basis?
Believe me, if I didn’t truly feel it was worth my time, I wouldn’t do it. The fact is we come to you guys a ton. You’re our most dedicated readers, most of you have been around for a very long time and we all see that. I just make sure to dedicate free time to stay connected. *Note: Keep in mind that Craig and Matt work their asses off… they’re the old guys now, remember? (I’m fired aren’t I…)
I believe the reason you guys see me on the boards more often than others is because of my past with the boards. I was on them before the Insider service started, I’ve been an active reader of IGN for a long time and community is very important to me. I’ve often gotten some playful criticism from a few nameless co-workers for my uncanny obsession for community, but at the end of the day it’s all good. You guys feel more in touch with us as the leaders of a vast community. I feel more connected to our readership, and most of all it gives people a reason to keep coming back to IGN.
But like I said, I wouldn’t do if it wasn’t truly a priority. I want to bring something new to IGN, and community is just another way to do it.
Nintendo fans are known for their fierce loyalty, how do you feel about the feedback you get from them? Would you prefer to work on an IGN channel where the fans weren’t so devoted?
Haha. No I love the criticism.
Keep in mind that just half a year ago I was working as a level designer for a GBA company. I’m not the best writer out there (as you all know, haha) but my opinion and vision of the industry is solid. That’s what Matt and Craig have seen in me, and hopefully that’s what all of you see as well.
As far as the criticism? It’s all part of the game. At least you’re reading it, and at least you feel strong enough to talk about it.
What’s the craziest thing a Nintendo fan has said or done since you’ve been at IGN?
Amazingly enough, it’s been relatively tame. Aside from IM stalkers and E-mail spam everyone is pretty cool. I’ve had a guy offer to buy me a beer (that rocked, haha) and I’ve been noticed in public (just once) which was insanely strange. I actually thought that would be the best day in the world, but it was seriously a really strange moment. Apparently the guy has seen my pic on either my blog or on our podcast posts.
I still haven’t had anyone quote me back to me (like taking my opinion from a review or podcast). That one will be sweet.
Do you think Nintendo listens to its fans? Should Nintendo listen to its fans?
I think Nintendo should definitely listen to their fans. It’s tough, however since the hardcore gamers are only one part of the market. I think they could stand to listen more though. Nintendo has been known for putting itself in a bubble, which I think is a huge problem. That’s one of the main reasons I started the “Prove It” campaign on my blog. Nintendo needs to realize that they aren’t doing everything right and that the community is noticing.
After all, Nintendo considers their work a success when they generate profit (hell, they’re a business). We on the other hand consider it a success when it’s the #1 console. There needs to be a middle ground there, and I think a change is on the way.
E3 is obviously going to be huge this year. Do you get the sense that this might be the most important E3 in years, perhaps ever?
Yeah. This one is the dance. For Nintendo, for Next Gen, for everything. I’m pumped.
What are you most looking forward to at E3 relating to Nintendo?
Well I obviously hope they “prove it” so to speak with the Revolution. They have made a ton of promises to fans, and E3 is the chance to show the world they’re serious. Aside from the obvious Rev stuff, I want to see some new DS titles that really drive home the Blue Ocean strategy, new GBA content (again, Nintendo you said a “Three Pillar” system. Prove it.), but most of all *No New Portable*
Showing the DS Lite will be fine, I just don’t want another Micro attempt. Nintendo doesn’t need to release a new portable to generate a splash, just hit us with some huge content for the ones we already have.
What sort of surprises are you expecting from Nintendo this year?
I fully expect to see a TON of Revolution content. This is pretty much the last stand for Nintendo. They were 3rd place in the US last generation (2nd in Japan), and they need to step up or step off. If they’re really serious about being a contender we need to see a ton of content.
I also can’t wait to see the “New Original IP” that Iwata hinted at last year. So good…
Microsoft and Sony are obviously planning to have their presence felt at E3 with their games and hardware. Do you think Nintendo will reveal enough secrets and have enough content to contend with the other console makers, or will they get lost in all the hype and buzz surrounding the PS3 and games like Halo 3?
As far as I’m concerned, Nintendo’s got the power play this year… now they just need to put it in the net. Here’s why:
Microsoft had a great E3 last year, but this year they’ll have to rely on purely content to steal the show. Halo 3 may be there, but I expect it will be in video form only. We’ll see… maybe they’ll blow us away. I personally think a trailer is all we’ll get.
Sony has dug themselves in a bit of a hole. The PS3 has been reported (from a European interview with the Sony CEO) to be in the $600-$700 range. That’s insane. PS3 will be there, and it better be playable. We know the huge push right now is for developers to get their games working on official hardware, since dev kits haven’t been out for a huge amount of time. Sony seems to love pushing their software on phantom systems, having the PSP plugged into a larger unit last year (from what I understand) and the PS2 running on fake hardware during its premire show. That has to stop. We need to see it running on hardware and it better be good.
Nintendo, however, is in a great spot. They didn’t show anything on Revolution last year, so they have the potential of releasing the most content by far. DS has to hit hard, Revolution has to hit harder. If they show a ton of content and allow gamers to go hands-on with the system it could very well steal the show. Nintendo always hits hard at E3. This year they need to steal the show.
NintendoSpin thanks Mark for taking the time to talk Nintendo with us. You can read Mark Bozon’s editorials and reviews at IGN’s Revolution channel.