The growing opinion in the games industry is that Nintendo isn’t competing with anyone anymore, and perhaps, aren’t even relevant. Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime however, says Nintendo is absolutely a competitor and points to the Wii’s success as an example of what happens when you underestimate the plucky little Nintendo console.
Just before E3, Gametrailers’ Kyle Bosman compared Nintendo to a big dumb lovable elephant that just does it’s own thing with a smile on it’s face, and nothing you or I can do will make it go anywhere else than where it wants to go. Nintendo is Nintendo, and they do their own thing, in short. In an interview with Kotaku, Nintendo of America’s president Reggie Fils-Aime explained that he was well aware of this opinion, of the skepticism surrounding the Wii U and of the consensus that this console generation will be a war between Microsoft and Sony. However, Fils-Aime isn’t worried; according to him, Nintendo is indeed a competitor, despite what anyone else might say.
“It’s a very inaccurate narrative,” Fils-Aime said. “In fact, that was the narrative in 2006. That was exactly the narrative.” We all know what happened next; the Wii took the world by storm and despite hardcore audiences not finding a tremendous amount of appeal in the console outside of first party Nintendo franchises, it did outsell the Xbox 360 and PS3 by far. “I think by the end of this holiday [...] we’re going to be in a very good position,” continued the Nintendo of America president. Kotaku asked if Fils-Aime was being optimistic when comparing the Wii U to the Wii; after all, the Wii had a killer app, Wii sports. The new Nintendo console has no such advantage with which to gain a head start. “If you look at it from a U.S. perspective, this point in time vs. where we were with the Wii life stage, there’s a difference of about 1 to 1.5 million units. Over a potential lifespan over 40 million-plus units, that’s not a lot,” explains Fils-Aime.
Still, he admits that the Wii was in a better position at launch: “I would say the big difference in the Wii launch vs. the Wii U launch is that, at the [Wii] launch we had a fantastic game in Wii Sports that really helped people understand the magic of the Wii Remote, and we had Zelda. We had Zelda there at the launch to satisfy the more active player and when you look at what we had at the launch for Wii U, yes we had a Mario game; a fantastic Mario game that has a very strong attach rate to the hardware… but there wasn’t as many opportunities for the more active player to really get behind the system.” With the Holidays approaching, Fils-Aime teases that there will be more releases for such active, or hard-core, players.
Of course, the PS4 and Xbox One will also be released in time for the holidays, and with the PS4’s $399 price point, that might spell trouble for the $350 Nintendo machine. “It puts no pressure on us at all” says Fils-Aime, “From my perspective, I can’t focus on that. I have to focus on: How do we satisfy the needs of all of the consumers out there with Nintendo products? How do we make sure they understand our proposition? How do we make sure they’re excited about the software that we offer? And from that standpoint we’re going to let our competition do what they’re going to do.”