President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime opened the second and final day of the Montreal Game Summit with a keynote that intriguingly lacked a title, but which took the audience through the aspects of Nintendo’s core “disruptive” strategies for the upcoming launch of the Wii; specifically, Nintendo’s plans to reach non-gamers.
Disruption In South Park
Introduced by Summit director Jean-Pierre Faucher, Fils-Aime quipped, “I have to say it’s nice coming here to Montreal where I can have people actually properly pronounce my last name. You should hear what they do to it in Mexico.” Following straight into the crux of his keynote, Fils-Aime opened, “The message that I am delivering today from Nintendo, is that we are doing everything possible to bring new gamers to our industry... We certainly have the strategy to do this, and if we had to describe it in just one word, it is ‘innovation’.”
Expanding on the evolution of their “disruptive” strategy of innovation from the Nintendo DS to the Wii allowed Fils-Aime to show clips from the recent episode of South Park, in which character Eric Cartman struggles with the wait for the launch of the Nintendo Wii. Looking on amused and perhaps proud, Fils-Aime expanded, “When they first came to us and told us they were going to do the episode, we said, ‘that’s great, we love it, we don’t want to see it ahead of time, just be kind’. And that line in there [from Eric Cartman], ‘it’s like waiting for Christmas, times a thousand’ is just fantastic.”
Facts And Figures From Fils-Aime
Continuing by setting up Nintendo’s recent sales and demographics specifically in Canada, Fils-Aime used NPD Canada statistics to extrapolate that on the year to date growth data in September, including Xbox 360, the industry is down 8%. However, when including the Nintendo DS, the industry is up 8%. The reason? Fils-Aime explained, “The Nintendo DS alone is up 206% here in Canada.”
Using a second graph, Fils-Aime established the huge jump in sales the DS Lite has allowed over the PSP; “DS is the top selling new platform here in Canada by a wide margin,” he announced, before describing game sales in Canada. On the title Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team
, which for the period of September was the number 7 top seller, Fils-Aime discussed the difference between Canada and the US; “I always get a kick out of presenting this chart, because in the United States this title is number 3. Here it’s number 7. Why? A little thing called ‘Hockey’.”
Using numbers from Nintendo.com’s registrant database, Fils-Aime showed the difference in demographic for several recent Nintendo DS titles, observing that while Mario Kart DS
had a fairly typical distribution (5% female, and only 23% over 25) the case was very different for Nintendogs
, with more than 20% of users female, and even more so for Big Brain Academy
, for which more than half of users were over 25.
Not that Fils-Aime was arguing that there was no place for traditional games within Nintendo’s portfolio, giving particular praise to Final Fantasy III
, upcoming for Nintendo DS. "When you deliver something exciting for everyone, magic happens."
Moving on to Japanese figures from Famitsu.com, Fils-Aime explored the widening gap in growth between DS and PSP, continuing, “According to Famitsu, over the most recent 6 months period, nine of the top ten selling games in total on any platform, are playable only on Nintendo DS. This is a tangible result of new players flooding the marketplace."
Wii Have A Goal
“The same audience expansion goal forms the strategic foundation for Wii,” Fils-Aime expanded, “For us, changing the central dynamic of this industry isn’t just an option. It’s a mandate.”
Fils-Aime argued that the industry was too narrow in its vision, and described the concept behind the Wii. “In any visual artform, typically, the eyes have it. What you see constitutes the greatest appeal. But games are different. They’re interactive, and that brings an equal force into the equation; a sense of touch. Our answer was a paradigm shift, from sight to touch.”
Choosing Between Your Children In Canada
Discussing the launch titles on offer for the Wii, Fils-Aime took time to spotlight the Canadian development industry’s importance to their strategy; “Mr Iwata, the entire senior team in Japan and my leadership team in the states, we recognize the contribution that many of you have made to the launch of Wii.”
“We owe all of you a round of applause for all of your support and help. Thank you Canada,” he continued, joining the audience in applause. Describing individual titles, but commenting, “Asking which is my favorite is like asking me which of my children is my favorite”, he shortly admitted, “I have to say, if I had to pick a favourite child it would probably be Trauma Center
”, the Atlus developed sequel to the Nintendo DS doctor simulation. He also made cryptic mention of Konami’s Elebits
is something very interesting. Anyone who buys that game is going to be in for a surprise. There are some hidden things there," before ensuring to give a special nod to Ubisoft’s contribution (his pleasantry towards Far Cry Vengeance
, developed by Ubisoft Montreal, getting a vociferous response from the audience.)
The Remote Is In Your Hands
Following with short explanation of the Wii points system, the virtual console and the Wii channels, Fils-Aime discussed the importance of their marketing strategy. “Our overriding objective is to get the Wii remote in as many hands as possible. Because we know that once we do, we’ve got a sale.” He included the Nintendo Wii's Myspace page, howwiiplay
, and traditional forms of advertising as just as important.
In conclusion, Fils-Aime continued on the topic that was always at hand throughout his keynote - the importance of developers working to grow the market. “"We know a couple of things. First, there's absolutely no reason why every consumer can't enjoy a video game. And we know, secondly, that the process of driving that appeal is certainly in your hands.”