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Friday, June 05, 2009

More Signs Nintendo Is Demented

Reggie "Terminator" Fils-Aime, interviewed by CNet:

With their announced new motion-sensitive control systems, Sony and Microsoft seem to be planning to aggressively go after the elusive mainstream audience. But perception-wise, at least, Nintendo maybe has the opposite problem: You've got the mainstream. How do you reach that core gamer?

Fils-Aime: We have near-term, mid-term and long-term opportunities. The near-term opportunity is the consumer who owns an PS3 or an Xbox 360 and has been bad-mouthing Wii to their friends. We can reach that consumer with games like The Conduit or Tiger Woods with Wii Motion Plus. The mid-term opportunity is the more mainstream consumer who saw Wii at a friend's house but just needs a little extra incentive to get into our game. That's what Wii Motion Plus and Wii Fit Plus and new Super Mario Bros. Wii will hopefully achieve. And the long-term opportunity is that person who currently says, "I don't play video games and I have no interest in playing video games."

The problem Nintendo has is that if that is seriously their near and mid-term strategies - they're pretty fscked. I don't care how impressive previews of the The Conduit may be - you can count the number of Halo fans who are getting a Wii to play it on your right hand. Especially when any gamer compares Nintendo's networking with Xbox Live.

And this fascination with Tiger Woods, a long running EA Sports franchise which sells will on every platform as some kind of Wii Motion Plus catch is just fascinating. Perhaps for the hardcore golfers who just loves to actually practice their swings ... maybe.

Honestly, I think you can sum up Nintendo's philosophy with this: "That's what Wii Motion Plus and Wii Fit Plus and new Super Mario Bros. Wii will hopefully achieve."

Hardware, hardware and more Mario. That's their plan. Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft have technically competent motion sensing solutions coming down the pipe and all the high def glory that gamers do (sorry Reggie) care about. In particular, Microsoft's lower price points will be able to put pressure on the Wii marketshare. Just wait for the Xbox 360 Arcade + Natal + 360 Sports package.

That's really the Wii's best hope - that Sony and Microsoft charge too much for their solutions.

Interview continues:
Can you talk about what you saw from Microsoft and Sony when it comes to the motion-sensitive controllers. It will be a sort of a new arms race.

Fils-Aime: The only thing I'll say is a rhetorical question. Is it fun? If it's fun, then I tip my hat and say, "Well done." But what's happening sounds to me a lot like, "Who's got the prettiest picture. Who's got high-definition. Who has the best processing power?" It sounds like technology, when the consumer wants to be entertained. Our focus is how do we take active play and make it entertainment. And that's what we're going to continue to focus on. And I think we've done a great job with Wii Motion Plus, and the Balance Board. And we're going to continue to push the envelope in ways to make it more fun.

When this gen of consoles took off, the Wii was innovative. A year from now, or maybe less, it will just look inexpensive. Which isn't nearly as brand friendly (though it doesn't hurt). Nintendo got here by pushing the envelope - but now they think pushing the envelope is measuring your heart beat and painting the Wii black.

Nintendo needs a better answer - and here's a tip: it is not more hardware.

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