Nintendo Designer Explains Why Salmon Run Isn't Always Available

It's super annoying that Splatoon 2's maps rotate, and that you can't play Salmon Run all the time. One of the two Western designers at Nintendo says it comes down to the vastly different ways the Japanese developers approach game design.

Jordan Amaro is a game designer at Nintendo's Kyoto studio, and, "one of only two Western developers inside Nintendo's headquarters". He's been working and living in Japan for five years, and also had the distinction of being the only Westerner working on Metal Gear Solid 5. In an interview with former Kotaku contributor Chris Suellentrop for Rolling Stone, he talked a little about the difference between Western and Japanese approaches to game design.

Amaro says that Japanese developers aren't necessarily interested in catering to players' specific needs. Talking about the choices made with Splatoon 2, he compares it to an anecdote about Japan from a TED talk:

In Japan, everything is tailored. You've probably heard Sheena Iyengar's TED talk, in which she went to a restaurant in Japan and tried to order sugar in her green tea. The people at the cafe said, "One does not put sugar in green tea," and then, "We don't have sugar." But when she ordered coffee instead, it did come with sugar! In Japan, there's a sense of, "We're making this thing for you, and this is how we think this thing is better enjoyed." This is why, in Splatoon, the maps rotate every couple of hours. And the modes change. "I bought this game. Why can't I just enjoy this game the way I want?" That's not how we think here. Yes, you did buy the game. But we made this game. And we're pretty confident about how this game should be enjoyed. If you stick with us, and if you get past your initial resistance, you're going to have the time of your life with this game. You're really going to love it.

Amaro goes on to say, "You have to trust us that if you could play Salmon Run online anytime, that would result in a worse experience for you and everybody." To an American like me, that feels really hostile and a little dramatic. Then again, how many times have I been late to appointments or hanging with friends because the burden of choice made me hesitate when I was picking a restaurant or thinking about what I wanted on my burger? Not being able to play Salmon Run at certain times of the day feels like an inconvenience, but maybe Nintendo's actually doing me a favour. Now I'll go to bed instead of staying up all night playing Splatoon!

Check out the rest of the interview with Amaro on Rolling Stone for more neat little insights about Japanese game development. Now that I think of it, I'd love it if coffee shops decided if I wanted sugar in my tea for me.


    I just dislike not being able to play Salmon Run because the time I get to play is limited enough as it is. It's frustrating to turn the game on and see a portion locked off because the developers say "this is how you should enjoy the game". Well how can I if it's not there to enjoy?

    I don't mind rotating maps and all that, but locking a portion of the game off for no reason other than "because we said so" doesn't come off as a great decision to me.

    And I should be given sugar in my green tea if I ask for it, isn't the customer always right?

      isn't the customer always right?

      No, they're not.

      Customer is definately not always right..

      The customer is wrong 90% of the time.

      Why bother ordering green tea if you're going to ruin it. I totally get this, and I kind of wish there was more of it. People aeem to always want options now, (the vr locomotion debate is a good example) but when the options dilute the core experience, hinder the balance, or disrupt the design intents I say screw the people who want options if it leads to a worse product. In regards to salmon run, it is most likely so that the core game (and salmon run for that matter) don't end up with diluted player bases, leading to longer queue times. They do the same thing in league of legends rotating their special map modes in order to not ruin the player base of the core game. It is a good design descision. People need to be less self entitled.

    Japanese developers aren't necessarily interested in catering to players' specific needs That's Nintendo in a nutshell really, also Riot now that i think about it, despite them being American. They would both probably would be getting more money from me if that wasn't the case but I guess that puts me in the minority *shrug*.

    I'm not a giant fan of how they do business, but it seems to have worked really well for them so far. And hey, I can respect a developer saying "This is how we made our product to be consumed, so enjoy it this way"

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