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DICE: Fils-Aime Talks 'Blue Ocean', Announces DS Kiosks, Voice Chat

DICE: Fils-Aime Talks 'Blue Ocean', Announces DS Kiosks, Voice Chat

February 9, 2006 | By Simon Carless

February 9, 2006 | By Simon Carless
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More: Console/PC

Nintendo of America executive vice president of sales and marketing Reggie Fils-Aime's speech at the DICE executive summit in Las Vegas has announced a number of new Nintendo DS-related measures, including DS-specific wireless kiosks and new voice chat game options.

In the more philosophical portion of his speech, Fils-Aime referenced the recently mentioned concept of a 'Blue Ocean' strategy for Nintendo, signifying the attempt to create a market where there initially was none, and a major subject of Satoru Iwata's speech at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show. This is as opposed to 'Red Ocean', which apparently signifies the currently established and highly competitive console market.

However, there were also a number of specific announcements made. Beginning in late March, Nintendo will be adding DS kiosks at "thousands of participating retail locations around the United States", including Best Buy and GameStop, according to an AP report, offering temporary memory-based downloads of game demos and movie trailers. As with previous kiosks available in Japan or at trade shows such as E3, the data will only remain in memory for as long as the DS is switched on. According to a Nintendo statement, the first DS Download Service stations will include free demos of Tetris DS, Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day, Mario Kart DS, Meteos, True Swing Golf and Pokemon Trozei, along with a Metroid
Prime Hunters
video clip. The selection of games and other downloadable content at DS Download Service kiosks will refresh quarterly.

In addition, it was confirmed that the forthcoming Metroid Prime: Hunters for DS, already delayed to add online functionality, will also include voice chat before and after games, although not during, the first online voice chat available for a Nintendo console. The game will launch on March 20th and is T-rated.

Fils-Aime also revealed that the previously announced Nintendo DS Lite, a new iteration of the hardware is approximately 20 percent smaller and lighter than the original, would go on sale in Japan in March. This is significantly earlier than many analysts had thought, although a Western release date for the retooled hardware has not yet been revealed.

Finally, a separate Nintendo Europe press release, confirmed by Fils-Aime's statement has revealed over 20 million connections to the DS Wi-Fi service over the entire globe, and over 850,000 unique users worldwide, in just over two months since it launched in November 2005. Popular DS online titles including Mario Kart DS and Animal Crossing: Wild World.

During the Nintendo VP's speech, new sales numbers for the hardware were revealed, showing that the Nintendo DS has now sold more than 14.4 million units worldwide through December. The Japanese sell-through of the existing Nintendo DS hardware exceeded 5 million within 13 months, which made Nintendo DS there the fastest-selling video game launch ever.

Gamasutra will have a full write-up of Fils-Aime's speech, including analysis of his statements on the future of the console and handheld market, later today.

[UPDATE: 10.41am PST, 02/09/06 - added further information from official Nintendo press release.]

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