Nintendo’s Reggie Speaks Out on Wii

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GamePro recently sat down with Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, speaking on a number of topics. Reggie believes that “looking at the Japanese business results that the total market for games was declining.” He says that “when you look at the U.S. business results for hardware and software for console, portable, and PC, there was a five-year time period where the numbers were just bubbling around $11 billion more or less. They weren’t moving; the industry was stagnant!”

According to him, the industry needed a change. As a result of Nintendo’s efforts, “the total industry is up just under 50 percent, Nintendo is driving just under 70 per cent of that growth, and we’re launching new accessories, like Wii Fit. Our focus is to continue driving this. It’s making sure we have products for the core gamers as well because they are still an important part of this industry, while at the same time making sure we have products for the expanded industry.”

One of the biggest issues for Nintendo is that they are “so constantly out of stock, that I don’t believe we have been able to effectively get our message out. That’s why this year’s holiday time period is so important to us. We want consumers to be able to walk in off the street and find our products.” However, he says that “it’s not a production issue. It’s not like our competitors who are missing a component and couldn’t scale up. We’re making huge amounts of product every single month. It’s not a capacity issue; it’s a demand issue. We’re not trying to temper demand, what we’re now trying to do is to figure out how to add additional lines to meet a higher level of demand.”

As for whether Nintendo projected the demand well enough, “I think quite frankly demand is beyond what anyone could have projected. We’re on a pace to drive installed numbers worldwide faster than any other home console box before us. Here in the U.S. we’re on a better pace than the PS2. In Japan we’re substantially in front of the PS2 base. So we’re feeling pretty good about all that.” He also notes that the strong demand for Nintendo DS does not reflect on Wii production since the two are manufactured in different plants.

Reggie says that Nintendo does not mean to neglect hardcore gamers. That is why it is “so important to bring out Metroid Prime 3 in its perfect state; that’s why it’s so important to launch Smash Bros. this year; that’s why it’s so important to bring Mario Kart for Wii out early next year. These titles for the core are very, very important for us.” He spoke about Wii Fit, saying “we have a ski demo, and this is a ski jump where literally you simulate the lift by jumping up onto your toes. Just think of what can be done! This can be applied to skiing games, but also to skateboard games. It can be applied to a surfing game. It won’t always have to be in a fitness genre.”

As for online play, Reggie says that “forty percent of the Wii’s around the world are connected to the Internet, so our system is online. But our view is that we want the consumer to go online every day–everyone in the household. So what that means is that we will offer more than simply first person shooters online. That’s why we have the Check Mii Out channel. That’s why we have Wii Wear with other downloadable content that consumers can choose from… Madden is going to be fabulous. Strikers is fabulous. But we want to do more. These are the little examples that highlight how we are different from our competitors. They talk about online versus and co-op play. For us online will be much more than you against me sitting in our living rooms in two different states.”