February 10th, 2007, 11:41 Posted By: wraggster
via mercury News
I inteviewed Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, at Dice. Reggie was very confident and here's some of what he had to say. If I get time later, I can transcribe the interview. In the meantime ... (picture: Reggie getting interviewed o n the red carpet before the awards show).
Reggie said that new data on sales will be out in the next week or so, but it's clear that the Wii is going strong. It sold 1.1 million units in North America through December, and about 4 million units manufactured last year. About two thirds of software sales were by third parties, so "developers are sharing in the success," he said.
The DS continues to sell well even though there were two or three weeks when it was completely sold out. Worldwide, the DS has sold more than 35.6 million units now. "We're making millions a month, but the demand is above that," he said.
He said he anticipates surpassing the installed base of the Xbox 360 with this sales rate.
"The question is when," he said. "That's going to be drivenn by our own sales rate and getting good software released at the right time. It's clear they are slowing down. It's not unthinkable to see that next year we could surpass their installed base."
The PlayStation 2 is competition of sorts, but Reggie said it's not direct. He said it is more like competition for the GameBoy Advance or the DS. I told him that Bill Gates said he didn't believe that the Wii was direct competition for the Xbox 360.
"When you're as rich as Bill is, you can say anything," Reggie said. "They have done some things that are brilliant at Microsoft. We want to bring gaming back to the masses. Consumers are voting with their wallets and pocketbooks."
I said critics have said that the game play of the Wii is limited and its novelty may wear off. He said, "I wonder if they saw Zelda? It has 90 hours of game play."
He said it is a fact that the PlayStation 3 inventory is "stacking up worldwide" because it's too expensive and doesn't have the right games. He said Sony made too big a bet on Blu-ray and on the price that the consumer is willing to pay for gaming. He said the Blu-ray vs HD-DVD war is shaping up to be a "bloody battle that won't be resolved soon."
Reggie said that the upcoming Wii Play would drive more sales soon. He said Nintendo is courting developers and is encouraged by the number of fresh ideas for using the Wii remote.
He was happy that the Wii was becoming a cultural phenomenon, as evidenced by Conan O'Brien playing Wii Tennis with Serena Williams on his show. He said the marketing that worked best was getting the Wii in the hands of consumers through programs such as kiosks with Wiis at shopping malls.
He said the death of the contestant in the "hold your wee for Wii" contest was unfortunate. And he said that the strap issue really meant that Nintendo had to work harder instructing consumers not to let go of the Wii remote when they were playing. He said the return rates on the Wii for general problems were "miniscule." Reggie said that getting the Wii in the hands of key mainstream media has also been important. Three million people have viewed a commercial that Nintendo released on the YouTube video service. More than 30,000 videos have been uploaded by people who have customized their Miis, the avatars that users can create for their Wiis.
Reggie thinks that Nintendo will score some points in the sports area for the first time in a long time with Electronic Arts' upcoming SSX Blur and Tiger Woods titles.
Asked if first-person shooters look bad on the Wii, Reggie said that "Metroid Prime 3" looks and plays excellent and it will end the debate over the Wii's aiming problems. He also said that the aiming in Wii Play would put those concerns to rest.
Asked if the Wii would run out of novelty and peter out, he said that skeptics said the same thing about the DS and its dual-screen and stylus play. He said that third-party development has done quite well and would continue to generate novel uses of the Wii controller. And he remained confident that the Wii would expand the market of games to non-gamers.
As for online, Reggie said that Pokemon Battle Revolution is doing well in Japan and would be the first online title in the U.S. He said online development kits have been seeded and titles are coming. Nintendo is starting to capitalize on the fitness benefits of the Wii in its marketing.
"We're about moving to the next rocket stage in our growth," he said in closing.
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