Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime On Switch Voice Chat, Lack Of Back-Ups Saves And 'Virtual Console'

Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, is at E3 in Los Angeles this week to promote Nintendo's latest resurgence and hype people up on the coming year of Switch and 3DS games. But he's also ready to field questions, and we had a bunch.

After grilling the man, here are some of our key findings.

On whether Nintendo expects its customers to carry both a Switch and a 3DS around with them: Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo: What we expect is that for the Nintendo 3DS family of devices, the appeal is a thousand different games, a wide range of different experiences, a wide range of different formats, whether it's the New 2DS XL or whether they brought a new 3DS last year or whether they buy a New 3DS XL. We think that consumer is looking for essentially exclusively portable type of games and experiences. And they want to have content for that vast library.

"We really do see [the Nintendo Switch purchaser] much more as a consumer who is motivated for a home console experience but they never want to leave their game behind. But they will always take it with them."

On how, after promising to have a steady stream of releases from Nintendo for Wii and Wii U and not quite hitting the mark Nintendo seems to be doing so with Switch: Fils-Aime: First, it was a dedicated focus coming out of Wii U to make sure that we had the steady cadence of games. As I look at Wii U from a business perspective, that's the one thing we were not able to do as well as we hoped. So it was clearly a priority.

Second, we have many more developers today working on our content than we did five years ago or even 10 years ago.

Stephen Totilo, Kotaku: You even mean internal?

Fils-Aime: Internal, right. Exactly. We've got that new development building in Kyoto that's full of hardware and software developers. So we have a lot more development staff than we did at the beginning of the Wii U generation and certainly throughout the Wii generation.

This third-party headset from Hori recently got us talking about how cumbersome Switch voice chat, which requires a mobile app, may be. But Reggie cautions that this is just one execution of the way it may work.

On why in the world Nintendo is going to require use of a mobile phone when using voice-chat for the Switch, given that everyone else, and even Nintendo, has previously done console voice-chat directly through the console:

Fils-Aime: We actually think that the phone is going to deliver a better, more robust execution. In terms of the APIs that we can build into an app, the fact that phones are ubiquitous, the fact that it allows us to do much more rapid improvements and updates to the service, that's why we think a phone execution — and specifically a mobile app execution — is going to be better for the consumer.

Totilo: It just seems cumbersome that I'm going to have to plug my headset into a phone into a system, those wires…

Fils-Aime: So let's be clear. What you've seen is the execution by one particular supplier. That is not going to be the only solution.

Totilo: But it's going to require a phone no matter what?

Fils-Aime: It's going to require a phone. It's going to require a mobile device and be delivered by an app.

On the possibility of the Virtual Console for Switch, separate from whatever Nintendo is planning to do with its $US20 ($26) online service which was recently delayed to 2018 and is set to include a subscription-based library of legacy games:

Totilo: Have you guys said if there's going to be, aside from all that, a Virtual Console experience?

Fils-Aime: We've not used the term Virtual Console.

[Editor's Note: In a press release in February, Nintendo did use the term — "Virtual Console games will not be available on Nintendo Switch at launch. We will share more information in the future." — though not in a way that necessarily describes a specific planned service.]

Totilo: Do you plan to sell your older games to people? People got used to that with Wii and Wii U as downloads.

Fils-Aime: What we've said is that as we communicate the specifics of the Nintendo Switch online service then at that point we'll communicate what it is we're doing with our legacy content.

Totilo: It'd be great to be able to download and play some GameCube games on my Switch, Reggie. I'm just telling you.

Fils-Aime: I see a lot of consumers hoping and wishing for that online.

Super Mario Odyssey was Nintendo's most impressive game at E3. Reggie told me that the Switch demographic, fuelled by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, has attracted the "young adult, active player, a consumer who played a ton of hours" and that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has added more parents and kids. He predicts that this Mario game will widen Switch out to Nintendo's true target: anyone from age nine to 95.

On the risk Switch owners take that if they lose their system, they will lose their save files, which currently can't be backed up. Totilo: We at Kotaku have heard the feedback — and I've even worried about it myself — that the lack of cloud save and even the back-up option I can do with my 3DS [can cost people their save files if they lose their Switch] ... do you guys hear that message?

Fils-Aime: We do.

Totilo: Can you say that there's a solution coming?

Fils-Aime: I can't say there's a solution coming, but we do hear the message.

On whether he got all of the Korok seeds:

Fils-Aime: I did not. I finished the game. So, I was at about 100 shrines and about 150 korok seeds. I was there in Hyrule Castle, up in the high [spires] collecting my Korok seeds and I flew down right into the sanctum and immediately thrust into the final battle. I wasn't wearing the outfit I wanted initially, I had to fight. I had to beat Calamity Ganon. And I did.

Fils-Aime told me he'd go back and get more Korok seeds soon. And we'll go back to Reggie in the future and see if Nintendo can deliver on some of the things he wasn't able to answer about yet. Everyone's going to collect!

We'll have more about Nintendo's big E3 showing and a little more from Reggie in the coming days.


    My god, as much as I love Nintendo they just seem so backwards and behind the times with so many things. You have heard people want cloud saves but no solution incoming? This should have been standard from the outset. And such a delay with ANY sort of legacy gaming service, I just don't get it sometimes. I still don;t own a Switch and I'm not compelled to until it delivers a modern gaming experience.

    Last edited 16/06/17 12:12 pm

      If Nintendo wasn't so Nintendo it might be dangerous!

        If Nintendo of Japan didnt make it so difficult for Nintendo of America.

        I wish he would just answer "Ask Japan" each time he has to explain things he doesnt agree with. He tries so hard to justify Japans design choices while not able to stop them being so "Nintendo"

          Morning mist glistens
          A phone call comes from Japan
          Nintendo abides

      The thing that frustrates me is it isn't even behind the times. It's just random and weird. They have these great outside the box ideas, but they also have insane ideas like using phones.

      "I'm not getting a Switch until Nintendo delivers a modern gaming experience, like retro games!"

      I kid. Those two features in particular seem pretty essential in the long run, especially if you're using the console as a portable.

        Haha yes I see how my comment seemed a little contradictory but it seems you get the point. Ninty are forever one step forwards, two steps back.

      There's an amazing interview somewhere where Nintendo was asked if they looked at their competitors when they were developing their online features (I think this was for the Wii U) that they didn't even look at Xbox Live or PS+ to see what players expected. =/

        Wow. Though really shouldn't be surprised.

          Took a bit of digging, but I found it! Its a good read.

          "...we would have thought that they had plenty of time to work on these features as it had been announced months before, so we probed a little deeper and asked how certain scenarios might work with the Mii friends and networking, all the time referencing how Xbox Live and PSN achieve the same thing. At some point in this conversation we were informed that it was no good referencing Live and PSN as nobody in their development teams used those systems (!) so could we provide more detailed explanations for them? My only thought after this call was that they were struggling - badly - with the networking side as it was far more complicated than they anticipated. They were trying to play catch-up with the rival systems, but without the years of experience to back it up."

            That's... I can't even. I just, I mean... I just can't even...

    Ahhh Reggie, the Spicer of Nintendo; forced to try really hard to make stupid crap look less stupid, no matter how much of an impossible uphill battle it might be.

      I'm just amazed at how many words he uses to say absolutely nothing at all.

    Reggie the Meat Colossus!

    So meaty!

    Makes me want to eat a steak...

      How can I make that into a haiku...

      "Reggie, so meaty!
      A Colossus made of meat!
      Steak would be so nice..."

    I pay my PS+ every month solely for cloud saves. Would happily do the same for Nintendo.

    Fils-Aime: We actually think that the phone is going to deliver a better, more robust execution. In terms of the APIs that we can build into an app, the fact that phones are ubiquitous, the fact that it allows us to do much more rapid improvements and updates to the service, that's why we think a phone execution — and specifically a mobile app execution — is going to be better for the consumer.Eat a dick, Reggie.

      the fact that phones are ubiquitous

      Haha yeah they are 100% definitely MORE ubiquitous than the user actually having the gaming device in their hands while using said device.

      Yeah, I mean I get he can't say the decision was made to reduce costs but... Nah fuck it, he should have said that. We aren't stupid, and pretending this solution is anything but a cost cutting exercise is insulting.

      Some strange reasoning
      Reggie makes no sense at all
      A dick on a plate

    Holy shit those are some absolutely terrible responses. I'm getting deja vu from that fired MS guy when they were still pushing online-only and Kinect.

    So let's be clear. What you've seen is the execution by one particular supplier. That is not going to be the only solution.

    Thanks for providing an actual solution/alternative, then. To this and the other questions.

    Absolute failure.

    Pretty awful performance from Nintendo. Its been refreshing to hear straight talk (somewhat) out of MS/Sony the last few years, but Nintendo is just... ugh.

    Lots of non-answers there. Sadface, Reggie, sadface.

    Apart from costs I can also see another couple of reasons for using mobile phones for voice chat. Why bother building all sorts of software and hardware for voice chat, when everyone has phones that already do that sort of thing, and probably better too?

    Also, with other consoles, you plug your headset into your controller, bam, done. With the Switch, your controller can vary, from moment to moment. Sure, if you put your mind to it, you can come up with a solution or three. But hey, your phone is just right there, so why don't we use that instead?

    Cloud saves: If the device is portable half the time, then can it reliably connect to the internet? If not, what do you with the game's cloud saves?

      On your last note with cloud saves - store them in memory until the device is reconnected to the internet. I believe this is how it's done with Ps4 and Xbone when you play offline, it still saves to the hard drive and just uploads when you reconnect.

      God I love watching a Nintendo fan try to justify their bullshit. So delicious!

      I can't believe you actually tried. "BUT HEY, YOUR PHONE IS RIGHT THERE!" Hahahahahahaha. Breathe. HAHAHAHAHA.

      Nintendo games on real hardware please. These clowns sure do have you fanboys worked out though. You'll buy whatever piece of garbage they come up with because their games are so god damn good(no one can deny that). Imagine how much better they would be if they weren't so limited by insanely garbage hardware.

      Also - you make a weak as fuck portable console and don't have Virtual Console on it. LOL

    As a huge Metroid fanbot, i'm super excited for hand-held Metroid, but seeing it on the 3DS is so depressing. Such a crappy system that I always hated playing on from day 1.
    It brings up sadly a typical missed grilling by the Games "media", and grilling that Nintendo deserves especially during E3 - is that where the hell is the new handheld from Nintendo ?
    And please people do not say the switch is the new "handheld". To merge the handhold market with the household system, with no asked for direction or plan in place from Nintendo, is sillyness of the highest order.
    Especially trying to merge the recent disaster of the Wii U ( progressing to the Switch ) with the successful-ish sales of the 3DS is so risky, that not even the Nintendo is that suicidal. Or are they ?

    Nintendo are totally milking their near exclusive traditional games hand-held market, that we are forced to use a really bad handheld system for very painful last 7 years.

    Last edited 16/06/17 2:18 pm

    Well if Reggie didn't complete the whole Breath of the Wild game which involved completing all 120 shrines and finding all Korok seeds then this would get dangerous and even worse it would be a complete danger for both Reggie and Nintendo.

    Oh Reginald. What are you doing. I actually don't even really care that much about cloud backups because these services will ultimately only last so long. Just saving onto an sd card in the event you needed to transfer saved data to another switch would be ok with me.

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