At a recent investor Q & A, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata spoke quite frankly about the issues Nintendo is currently struggling with, freely admitting that Nintendo didn't make enough effort to retain its core gaming audience. He also claimed this is something Nintendo is looking to rectify with the Wii U and the 3DS.
According to Iwata — gaming as an industry is in better shape as a result of Nintendo's efforts to expand the gaming population, and Nintendo should continue trying to grow its market base, but not at the expense of those for whom gaming is a "hobby".
"[T]he Wii was able to reach a large number of new consumers who had never played games before by bringing hands-on experiences with its “Wii Sports” and “Wii Fit,"" said Iwata. "However, we could not adequately create the situation that such new consumers played games frequently or for long, consistent periods. As a result, we could not sustain a good level of profit.
"Moreover, regrettably, what we prioritized in order to reach out to the new audience was a bit too far from what we prioritized for those who play games as their hobby. Consequently, we presume some people felt that the Wii was not a game system for them or they were not willing to play with the Wii even though some compelling games had been released."
According to Iwata, Nintendo doesn't want to make the same mistake twice.
"Once consumers have a notion that “this system is not for us,” we have learned that it is extremely difficult to change their perceptions later," claimed Iwata. "Therefore, in promoting the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U, we have announced that we would like “width” and “depth” to coexist. With the Nintendo DS and the Wii, the approach of “width” was well accepted by many people; however, what we did in terms of “depth” was not satisfactory for some consumers. This time, we would like consumers to be satisfied in both aspects."
But, interestingly, Iwata believes Nintendo should focus on 'depth' first, and broadening the market second.
"[We]e started to work on the “depth” aspect first, and the current and existing software you can see for the Nintendo 3DS is based on that idea."
Interesting — but if Nintendo wants to appeal to a 'core' audience with the Wii U, why attach the Wii name to the product? It's possible that the strength of the Wii brand is too difficult to ignore, but I wonder if some gamers will avoid the console simply because of that attachment. Time will tell.