Most of Infendo’s followers are uber excited about the launch of the Wii U, regardless of what might still be unknown about the system. Although, some are a little skeptical about what is under the hood and in the cloud. There are a lot of gamers that are devout to other consoles that seem to think the Wii U is more of a gimmick than a legitimate system, I find that a bit childish, but it is no different than a Coke vs Pepsi or Mac vs PC debate.
Because of the lingering questions out there, by fans and foes, I found the following interview between Forbes Magazine contributor David M. Ewalt, and Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime quite interesting. I hope you will too!
See the interview after the jump
Forbes: One of the reasons the Wii has been a success is because it expanded the market, and attracted a lot of first-time console buyers. How do you convince these new gamers to become return customers? I hear people saying, “I already have a video game machine. Why do I need to buy a new one?”
Reggie Fils-Aime: Well, what we’ve seen is that these new entrants to the market really have broadened their own gaming experiences. They started by playing Wii Sports, but then they graduated to games like Mario Kart and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Then they continued on to experiences like Donkey Kong Country Returns orThe Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. So their gaming tastes have matured.
So we’ll continue to have all the family-friendly farelike Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Brothers U… but in addition, we’re going to have more active gamer content, which was something that was missing other than from Nintendo’s first party titles. Maybe these new entrants will find their first opportunity [to play] something like Call of Dutynow that it can be delivered through Wii U.
The flip side of the coin is hardcore gamers, the people who are already playing games like Call of Duty. How do you get them to take the Wii U as seriously as they might take a new Xbox or PlayStation?
We showed that [with the announcement that Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II will be released for the Wii U]. You’re going to have the beautiful graphics. You’re going to have the online multiplayer, and now you’re going to have a same-room two player experience that you can’t get anywhere else, because I’ll be playing on the game pad, you’ll be playing on the big screen T.V. That’s a huge innovation… there are a series of innovations that we’re bringing for the more active gamer.
You’ve had issues winning over hardcore gamers because of big third party games, particularly first person shooters, that came out for PlayStation and Xbox, but not Wii. How do you fix that?
I think you have to peel the onion back and ask why. And the why is that publishers creating these types of games have wanted to leverage their assets amongst multiple platforms. So when they created HD, online-driven platforms, it took them a significant amount of work to bring it on to the Wii. And that’s why we didn’t have those games. Now that we use HD and have strong online capabilities, we’ve broken the biggest barrier that the third party publishers had. Plus now we’re giving them this fantastic new tool called the GamePad to create new experiences.
So I mean you’re seeing it here –50 games in the launch window, demonstrated support by three of the biggest western publishers, plus all of the great support out of Japan. So we’re confident that we have this system that really will draw the best of third party publishers.
Can you attract more of those big third party games to become Wii U exclusives?
Are there going to be Wii exclusive active gamer titles? Absolutely. We’ve announced a number already, with [Sega’s] Bayonetta 2 and [Ubisoft’s] Zombi U. I mean these are active gamer experiences that are exclusive to our platform.
Plus we’re going to have what we do best, which really are bigger, broader, key fan franchise driven games leveraging Mario and Zelda and Donkey Kong. And I’ll tell you what’s interesting –if you look at this current generation, for all of the noise around core gamer games, the best selling titles, the top four selling titles have all been Nintendo-published, first party, exclusive to the Wii games.
One of the Wii U’s selling points is the unique multiplayer experience –one player using the Wii U GamePad and looking at their own screen, while other players use a remote and look at the TV. How are you going to sell people on a different kind of gaming, instead of just a bigger, faster machine?
This challenge is a challenge we’ve faced before. Getting consumers to understand the two screen experience on the Nintendo DS is an example. Getting consumers to embrace motion gaming when they had never seen anything like a Wii remote before. Our approach is to partner our marketing teams with the product teams, and make sure that we identify those key product-based selling points, and then communicate them as broadly as possible.
So for example, you will see much more focused marketing that showcases this two screen experience, and why it’s so much fun. You’ll see much more hands-on activities for consumers, so that they can experience it themselves. We’ll be in malls across the country beginning right around Black Friday, to help consumers understand what this experience is all about, and to get them to advocate for it.
The Wii U will retail for $300, making it the most expensive console on the market. How will you address that?
We’ll see what our competitors do and where they are… but we’re going to be going after different consumers. With the Wii U, Nintendo will be speaking to the active consumer looking for the latest in a gaming experience… but we’re also going to be speaking to a much broader mass market consumer with games like Nintendo Land and new Super Mario Brothers U, as well as the innovative NintendoTVii. So we believe that given everything we’re offering, the price points we’ve announced –$300 for the basic set, $349 for the deluxe– represent incredible values to the consumer.
And all of the things that we’re including for free, others charge you for. The Nintendo TVii service, video chat… all of these capabilities are built into our proposition. So we feel pretty good. But in the end the consumer is going to vote.
The Wii U only comes with one controller, the Wii U GamePad. It also works with the Wii’s controllers, so existing customers can keep using those for multi-player games. But will first-time customers buy a box that only has one controller?
If we’re talking about Wii U-generation brand new consumers, we think absolutely they will buy this system, and we believe that they will buy additional remotes, just like the Wii generation did. We’ve sold over 100 million remotes. If you do the math on an install base of 40 million systems here in the United States, that’s over two per household. We know consumers will buy an additional remote.
That raises the price. Now you’re talking $350 for a basic system.
It does. But what we have found is that as long as the consumer sees the value, they’re willing to pay an extra $40 for an additional remote. And we wouldn’t have sold the numbers that we did if we didn’t represent that type of value. So we believe that given everything you get in this system, the pricing we’ve announced is an incredible value.
When the Wii came out, its initial popularity led to shortages and frustrated customers. What does the supply chain look like for the Wii U?
We’ve learned a lot of lessons from the launch of the DS, the launch of Wii and the launch of 3DS. And our supply chain is solid. My job is to work with retailers, work with other business partners to create demand for the product, and have the consumer get excited. And I think we’re well on the way to doing that.
My expectation is that we will do a phenomenal job helping the consumer understand the benefits of Wii U, and that our retailers will do a wonderful job of merchandising the product and getting it into consumers’ hands. We want to satisfy all of the demand that’s out there. That’s our goal.
Meanwhile, you’re still going to be selling the Wii in stores. How will the marketing message change?
The broad marketing for the Wii is not going to change. The Wii is focused against today the late adopter, the consumer who is spending $149 or less to have a gaming experience. And we believe –not only in the U.S. but through all of the Americas– there’s still millions of these types of consumers available. So it’s a sizable opportunity. But that’s a different consumer than who is going to look at the Wii U and get excited by the latest graphical capabilities, all of the services that are included, and new types of games. We see these as two different market opportunities.
Have you learned anything from watching Sony’s continued success selling thePlayStation 2?
You know, PlayStation has done a phenomenal job driving sales on what is a [twelve] year-old machine. They’ve done a phenomenal job, and they have been able to address different marketing over time, to build an incredibly large install base. We believe that the Wii system, similarly, will keep selling for quite some time. They’re going to be different addressable markets, not only from a U.S. perspective but from a global perspective… [but we’ll] hopefully continue to drive sales at a historic rate.
Last month the editors of Nintendo Power announced that the magazine is shutting down after 24 years of publication. But they didn’t go out of business –Nintendo declined to renew their license. Does that mean that you have other plans for the license, like producing the magazine internally?
We had a fabulous relationship with [Nintendo Power publisher] Future. When we made the decision a number of years ago on who would be the best publishing partner to work with, hands down they were the right choice, and they did a phenomenal job.
But this is a tough time for the print industry. And so mutually we came to the decision that Nintendo Power in a printed form didn’t make sense today. What the future holds, we’ll all see. But right now that December issue is going to be the last one. I’ll make sure to have my copy. I was a subscriber to the publication before I worked for the company, so the Nintendo Powerbrand personally is very meaningful to me. It’ll be a sad day when I open up that last issue.
But you’re not closing the door on it returning, maybe as an online-only publication?
We have nothing to announce today and there are no plans that are currently in place, but you said it. The Nintendo Power brand is very strong.