BS: I hear that WiiWare games don't sell much.
TT: It'd be nice if they did a bit more.
BS: I don't know anything about Virtual Console sales, but how do Hudson's VC games fare?
TT: Well, speaking in terms of all our downloadable offerings, our top-selling product is the Bomberman that was made over in the U.S. That's because a very large chunk of 360 owners is connected to Xbox Live.
Unfortunately, while Japan has a huge percentage of its population as internet users, only about 40 percent of them connect their game consoles up. It's still not that much. I think that'll gradually go up in the future, and we'll really begin to see the transition starting this year.
Makers will keep putting out neat stuff for WiiWare and DSiWare, and users will begin to notice en masse all the things that're available. When you look at the DS, it sold just okay for a while, but when Brain Age came out, bam! Sales shot through the roof.
If we can get one title with that kind of performance power for WiiWare or DSiWare, then you'll see a similar expansion.
BS: So Nintendo needs to come up with something.
TT: Yeah. But there's another problem Nintendo has to work out with the DS platform, and that's the proliferation of piracy. That's a fatal blow to software houses here. Dragon Quest IX's release date was October 15, but it was already all over the net by the 13th.
It's not that Nintendo's been completely lazy with this, and I know it's unavoidable to some extent, but... With the iPhone, everything goes through their own store, and no matter what you're connecting with the home office, so to speak.
BS: A broader question, but what do you think of the Japan game industry at present?
TT: I think it needs to change. Twenty years ago, you had the core group of kids that played Famicom games. As that group's grown up, the game industry's continued to cater to their needs over the years, essentially cutting off anyone older or younger. They're making games without thinking about these other groups. I think that needs to be rethought.
Targeting a particular age range isn't a bad thing in itself, but we need to have more games that target a core of younger users, or else there won't be anything left. You can play games on all kinds of platforms these days, too, like cell phones.
BS: Another rude question here, perhaps. Does Japan really have what you could call core users, or gamers? Lots of people have systems here, yes, but they always seem to be purchasing brain-training stuff or something. I'm not sure how many Famicom users are still interested in games.
TT: Neither do I.
BS: They aren't completely gone, but they're dwindling.
TT: Famicom users from back then are in their 30s or 40s today, after all. They've got families and children of their own, and they haven't got a lot of free money because of the recession. So, yeah, a lot of old Famicom owners have drifted away from games.
I think the 20-something gamers are the current core fanbase for the industry, people that started with the PS1 or PS2 and never touched the Famicom. And then you have the other target base, the young adult ladies who purchase brain-training games and so on. That's another "core," if you will.
BS: A lot of people have nostalgia for games, though, and that group doesn't seem as interested in modern games.
TT: I write in a blog daily, and I always get comments along the lines of "Oh, I played Adventure Island! Wow, that brings me back!" And that's all they say -- they aren't playing anything now. That's what ex-core users are like.
KS: There are too many options to choose from now. You can play games on your cell phone quickly and easily, and it's the same on the net, too. The sort of people who played the Famicom and hung out in arcades can now get a far better experience in the comfort of their own homes -- really, on their cell phones, even. So you have this group that samples a broad range of stuff but never really explores anything deeply.
There are lots of options, but it's tough for an individual title to grab the attention of a great deal of people. Maybe a game's immediately fun once you try it out, but there are fewer opportunities for that connection to be made with modern gamers, I think. Core gamers follow the scene enough that you hardly need to advertise to them, but normal people aren't like that.
TT: They aren't going to do the looking for you. You have to show them on the TV.