Nintendo: Saying Next-Gen Is Only Sony Vs Microsoft Is So 2006

Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, is aware of all the Wii U scepticism. He's certainly aware of mine and the fact that there's a PlayStation 4 bearing down on his 32GB Wii U later this year. Plus an Xbox. What, him worry?

The storyline told throughout the halls of E3 was that the show was about Microsoft going against Sony, about Xbox One vs PS4. Nintendo had a bunch of fun games in their booth, but they were off to the side.

In a meeting room in that Nintendo booth, I sat down with Fils-Aime and asked him as much: Is the narrative wrong to think this is Microsoft vs Sony this generation and Nintendo is once again this unusual company on the side? Nintendo is going to do their own thing but it's not going to be on the scale of what these other two companies are doing?

"It's a very inaccurate narrative," Fils-Aime said. "In fact, that was the narrative in 2006. That was exactly the narrative." He's referring to the eve of the launch of the Nintendo Wii, the relatively weak console that was supposedly going to get slaughtered by the mighty Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 but instead, thanks to its novel controller, surged far into the lead.


Fils-Aime: "I think by the end of this holiday... we're going to be in a very good position."


Wasn't the Wii, I asked Fils-Aime, far ahead of where the Wii U is right now? It had Wii Sports. It played an ace card right away.

"I think it's inaccurate to use the word 'far'," he said. "If you look at it from a US perspective, this point in time vs. where we were with the Wii life stage, there's a difference of about 1 to 1.5 million units. Over a potential lifespan over 40 million-plus units, that's not a lot." Based on Nintendo's public sales stats, the gap is even tighter than that, with 2.37 million Wiis sold by the end of March 31, 2007 in the Americas and 1.52 million Wii Us sold by March 31 of this year, both consoles having launched in the prior November. The Wii, of course, was out of stock everywhere. The Wii U has been struggling through a soon-to-be-ending software drought.

"I would say the big difference in the Wii launch vs the Wii U launch is that, at the [Wii] launch we had a fantastic game in Wii Sports that really helped people understand the magic of the Wii Remote, and we had Zelda. We had Zelda there at the launch to satisfy the more active [read: more hardcore; not more physically-active] player and when you look at what we had at the launch for Wii U, yes we had a Mario game — a fantastic Mario game that has a very strong attach rate to the hardware [meaning: people who bought the system bought the game] — but there wasn't as many opportunities for the more active player to really get behind the system."

I wondered when he thought the Wii U would be in a better spot.

"You know, I think by the end of this holiday, after we've launched Wind Waker, after we've launched Donkey Kong Country, after we've launched Mario 3D World, I think we're going to be in a very good position."

It's easy to dismiss Fils-Aime's comments as marketing puffery, but Nintendo conveniently affords gamers an alternate look at what it's doing by running two platforms at once. The 3DS is older than the Wii U by about a year and a half and is now very much in a groove, with major, polished releases hitting from Nintendo nearly monthly, (Fire Emblem, then Luigi's Mansion, then Animal Crossing, etc.). "Is it possible," Fils Aime said, "to do it for 3DS and Wii U at the same time? Absolutely. And that's what we're focused on. The pace of significant launches behind a platform is absolutely what we need and what we're focused on getting to."


Fils-Aime: "My bet is that there are going to be more announcements the closer we get to whatever their launch date is."


Ah, but there's that PS4 coming out by year's end for just $US400/$A549. Xbox One is $US500/$A599, but that PS4 price is close to the Wii U's. Pressure?

"It puts no pressure on us at all," Fils-Aime said. "Sony and Microsoft are going to do what they're going to do. My bet is that there are going to be more announcements the closer we get to whatever their launch date is.

"From my perspective, I can't focus on that. I have to focus on: How do we satisfy the needs of all of the consumers out there with Nintendo products? How do we make sure they understand our proposition? How do we make sure they're excited about the software that we offer? And from that standpoint we're going to let our competition do what they're going to do."


Comments

    I think the Wii U will be in a much better position once it has some more games out. It seems like there were a handful of decent launch titles but people stopped playing those and they weren't replenished with new ones. The Wii U probably isn't a bad machine, but it needs new games before it loses momentum.

      I'd agree. A friend of mine was a big nintendo fan and we played it a little on occasion but he simply got tired of waiting a year before his favorite games were to come out. Smaash brothers, mario cart etc. These should have been launch titles... he traded the console in recently for PS4 preorder.

    Yes bought at launch and I am still waiting for Pikmin 3.

    They really do live in their own fantasy land don't they? They're not even remotely connected to the real world.

    “It puts no pressure on us at all,” Fils-Aime said.

    It will once the PS4 is about to hit, but what will likely happen is we'll see a big price drop of 100 or so dollars on the Wii U and it'll be that much more appealing because more games will be available + cheaper price + no DRM...

    I think it's playing a completely different game to the PS4/XBone. It'll get an audience for the Nintendo exclusives, but that audience will be closer to N64/Gamecube size than Wii size, I think.

    I really see Wii U as something outside of the console wars. They seem to be running with their own generations of hardware and their games, attitude and philosophies set them apart from the herd. I love my Wii U but it’s never going to give me the same experiences that a PS4 is going to give me and vice versa.

    I don't want to say I will be playing too much of Donkey Kong/Mario Kart/Smash Bros/etc well into Wii U's lifespan to care about the 3rd party johnny-come-lately stuff, but will see how things go.

    Ah Nintendo, once the proud champion of the gaming world. Now, you sound like the grizzled old prize fighter who will do or say anything to just get one more chance to get into the ring.

      Er, Nintendo was the irrefutable winner of the "console wars" of just the previous generation by employing a strategy similar to what they are doing now?

      That's a stupid call.....

      When will EVERYONE realize that power means nothing? Its like a big penis, sure it helps but it doesn't guarantee satisfaction.

        Yeah but it beats being laughed at when you 'show your console' :-P

    I was all ready to snap up Rayman Legends then Pikmin, but now I'm just stuck waiting. Shame there hasn't really been any surprise gems thrown out there yet. Actually I'm pretty keen for Injustice, but now that a bunch of DLC and stuff has come out I'm more inclined to wait and see if they chuck out a GOTY version.

    Once the library improves it will find its niche like all Nintendo consoles

      if the price is low enough everyone could consider buying a Wii U as a second system but at the moment its priced like it wants to be the main console in the house. this is just not gonna happen with the Wii U

        The basic pack isn't very expensive but I think they should get rid of the basic then knock the deluxe down to the basic price and offer it in black or white.

    I love Nintendo games and in terms of Gameplay they are the best games you can play, BUT even now that I see there is a new Mario and Donkey Kong games coming out I will not be rushing out to buy a Wii U. WHY? simply because the console is too expensive for what it offers (low spec Hardware, weird Tablet controller and a tiny library of non impressive games) even if good games were to come out such as a brand new Zelda with a few other older franchise revived I am not even sure that it would convince me to buy a WiiU at its current price. I mean $428 when a PS4 will cost $549 and is a next gen power beast with great launch titles! the choice is quickly made. Nintendo shave off $100 on the WiiU and add some good games, then maybe you will get some consumers back. otherwise I honestly don't think that people are gonna buy a Wii U just for another Mario and donkey kong

    Last edited 19/06/13 12:45 pm

    I really don;t understand Nintendo, they have a large stable of IP's but seem to always fall back on Mario.

    why not a new (or even a rebooted) metroid? why not a new Megaman? why not a new Kirby? how about a Toad/mushroom kingdom game? why not a new Kid Icarus game? why not an open world Pokemon? and so on.

    instead we get iteration after iteration of Mario occasionally including his friends.

      Metroid is coming, it was hinted at over E3. Megaman isn't Nintendo, it's Capcom, so they have no control over that. Kirby games have become their new experimental franchise, where they can fiddle with new ideas (Canvas Curse, Mass Attack), and the director for those games has been busy on Smash Bros anyway. Toad/Mushroom Kingdom game is exactly what you're saying you don't want, "iteration after iteration of Mario occasionally including his friends". Kid Icarus just had a new game last year. An open world Pokemon is neither their vision for Pokemon nor something you should realistically hold out for, I still don't understand why people think this is ever going to happen.

        in all honesty i didn't know they hinted at Metroid or about Megaman so that is my bad and i'll admit to it. As for Toad/mushroom kingdom i meant a game solely based on the kingdom/toad not a Mario game that has toad in it, this is something they could do pretty much anything with and make it different from a Mario game.

        "An open world Pokemon is neither their vision for Pokemon nor something you should realistically hold out for" but the question is why not? i suspect Nintendo's "vision" for Pokemon is just to continue milking it by release Pokemon games for their handhelds until the end of time. It's not a secret that Pokemon sells their handhelds.

        There are plenty of people who think not only would an open world Pokemon game work but it could be down right AMAZING and there is obviously a market for it too.

        anyway i don't think anyone would disagree if i said Nintendo relies too heavily on Mario (by which i mean Mario specific games.) i think they lack creativity with the IP's they own, why not do more crossovers that are not just fighters or sport/racing games? why not a game where donkey kong is the bad guy again? why not an open world Wario game in which we never see mario? why take so long between Yoshi games?

        P.S im not ragging on Mario i just want to see other IP's get more attention.

    Well last Christmas the masses pretty much passed on the WiiU and that was without the spectre of two brand new vastly more powerfull systems to compete with, sadly I don't think a "new" Mario Kart,Pikmin and Smash Bros. will change that much.

    I think Reggie is a little upset that he didn't get to go on stage this year :P

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now