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Nintendo Answers DS and Wii Questions

President Satoru Iwata of Nintendo (and others) held a media briefing behind closed doors a few weeks ago and have released a transcript on their Japanese website. Some interesting quotes are available, including details about the launch. “I believe we will need to announce the precise price and launch date of Wii in or before September this year. Because we are saying that we will launch Wii in the fourth quarter of 2006, or during the October-December time period, we will need to make these announcements before then.”

“However, some people somehow think that hardware always loses money. Nintendo is taking some distance away from that approach. If you ask me, ‘Will Wii be sold at or over the cost?’, I cannot tell today if we won’t lose even one yen by selling one Wii hardware. However, we do not intend to lose a great deal of money from the hardware sales. Any loss must be recovered elsewhere, of course. We are making our overall Wii plan so that we can develop it as a healthy business from the first year,” Iwata said. Iwata’s comments possibly entertain the idea of a cheaper launch price than currently speculated, with talk about hardware losses. The Wii is expected to be 2-3 times more powerful than the GCN, currently only $99.

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“Since E3, almost all the domestic software makers have approached us and requested detailed information on Wii and requested hands-on experiences with the Wii software we showed at E3 for those developers who did not attend E3. Such developers requests are increasing. Since the end of last month until around the 20th of this month, we have been conducting hands-on opportunities either at our Tokyo branch or at their facilities depending on their conveniences. I’m sure they will come up with unique ideas to create great software, and we are more than willing to cooperate with them,” Hatano-san said about third party interest in the system.

When asked how many systems the Wii will sell in three years, Iwata ducked the question, but proclaimed that the Wii would be a failure if it could not outperform the GameCube, obviously showing frustration over the poor performance of Nintendo’s current-generation system. “I do not intend to declare how many Wii we will be selling today, but Wii will be a failure if it cannot sell far more than GameCube did. In fact, we shouldn’t continue this business if our only target is to outsell GameCube. Naturally, we are making efforts so that Wii will show a far greater result than GameCube.”

Iwata acknowledged that the GameCube lost steam after its launch because of a lack of software. “When we launched GameCube, the initial sales were good, and all the hardware we manufactured at that time were sold through. However, after this period, we could not provide the market with strong software titles in a timely fashion. As a result we could not leverage the initial launch time momentum, and sales of GameCube slowed down. To avoid repeating this with Wii, we have been intensifying the software development, both internally at Nintendo and at developers outside the company, in order to prepare aggressive software lineup for Wii at and after the launch.”