Shigeru Miyamoto wants Mario to be as popular as Mickey Mouse but admits it could take generations before his most famous creation can topple Disney’s.
One of the main hurdles to overcome is the ongoing resistance “many parents” have to children playing video games, he said during a media event attended by Nikkei.
“Many parents want to keep their children from playing video games. But these same parents have no problem allowing them to watch Disney movies,” Miyamoto said.
“We cannot seriously challenge [Disney] unless parents start feeling comfortable about their children playing Nintendo.”
In a bid to increase Mario’s accessibility, Miyamoto also said he’s tried not to pigeonhole the character.
“I’ve become more interested in creating greater opportunities for a larger audience to enjoy [the world of Mario].”
While its core business is making and selling games, Nintendo leverages its popular IP in various ways.
Its new Tokyo store opened on Friday, the Super Nintendo World theme park land at Universal Studios Japan will launch in spring 2020, and a new Super Mario animated movie is expected to be released “around 2022”.
But asked during an interview with Time whether Nintendo’s business strategy is inspired by Disney’s, Furukawa said in October: “We’ve never tried to imitate any other company.
“The idea of using our IP in things like theme parks or movies is simply an extension of the philosophy we’ve had all along.”
Miyamoto was recently recognised as a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government, an honour awarded annually to select people deemed to have made an outstanding cultural contribution to their country.
As well as Super Mario, Miyamoto is the creator of some of Nintendo’s best-selling game franchises including Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, F-Zero, Pikmin and Star Fox.
In 2015 the designer was appointed Creative Fellow at Nintendo after almost 40 years at the company.
Miyamoto said earlier this year he intends to build on Nintendo’s history of user interface innovations by creating a next-gen controller that becomes the industry standard.