Reggie: It is. We haven’t announced a launch date. We demo’d it in a number of live shows for the various game enthusiast media. We’re very excited about that.
GamesBeat: What’s some of the thinking around securing something like that?
Reggie: It’s the same thinking that has us securing Bayonetta 2. For us, it’s important to have a range of content. Our developers know the developers of these various series. For us it’s a great business opportunity.
GamesBeat: Given that you want to climb out of the last three years, how much do you have greenlight?
Reggie: Our greenlight decisions are based on compelling gameplay experiences that are huge fun for the consumer and that we believe will generate a positive financial return for us. It’s not a numbers game. It’s looking at each project independently and making sure that the gameplay is fun, that there’s a unique aspect to it, and having it be the best quality it can be. Part of my job, with my team here at NOA, is then thinking about the right time to launch it. The thought process around sequencing the various launches is important.
With Bayonetta and Hyrule Warriors, those games are going to launch fairly closely together. We think they appeal to similar audiences. Essentially, by growing the installed base of that more active gamer, we’ll help those games be even more effective.
GamesBeat: Certain sectors and markets are always under attack by competitors. The kids’ market seems like one of those. Free-to-play and mobile have really gone after that market. How do you hang on to this segment that’s so important?
Reggie: It’s critical for us to have kids grow into and aspire to play Nintendo content. I think about how I introduced my kids to Mario and to The Legend of Zelda. We have to find ways to do that today. We’re doing it in a variety of different ways. We had about 10 kids here yesterday, unique kids — kids who write for Time for Kids, kids who have their own YouTube channels. We had them interacting with Mr. Miyamoto and playing our games. They had a fabulous time. We think that type of activity, and having the kids themselves broadcast out what they found appealing, is critically important.
We’re doing things around our web presence. We’re going to be launching, later this year, a dedicated kids and parents portal that speaks directly to kids and introduces them to our franchises. It gives moms and dads some fun activities – how to plan a Mario-themed birthday party. Things that we know parents are interested in, but there’s not a ready resource. That kind of information doesn’t exist on Nintendo.com today. It’s a day to day job for us to create messaging and content for kids and parents to keep filling the funnel of new consumers to play our games.
GamesBeat: A lot of the answer, I think, is “doing what we do best and doing better.” What part of the answer involves change?
Reggie: You’re talking about a 120-plus-year-old company that started by selling paper playing cards. We know all about change. We know all about evolving our entertainment capabilities for the current marketplace. I would argue that we have changed and we’ll continue to change.
What we try to do, though, is change in ways that make sense for the long-term health of the company. That’s why we’ve said, over and over again, that right now we believe it is in our best interest, as well as the best interest of the playing consumer, to have our content reside only on our platforms. We don’t think it would be a great Mario Kart experience, for example, to play Mario Kart on a smartphone or tablet.
Now, having said that, we did just launch Mario Kart TV, an online presence highlighting gameplay that fans are posting to the web. We get internet memes like the Luigi Death Stare. We believe we’re touching many more consumers, and we do believe that’s helping drive some awareness and interest in a game like Mario Kart. So we’re going to continue to evolve, but we’ll evolve on our terms, in ways we believe make the most sense for the business model.
Above: Nintendo Amiibo toys
Image Credit: Dean Takahashi
GamesBeat: You also have this toy-game hybrid here, Amiibo. It seems like a good idea, competing against Skylanders and Disney–
Reggie: We’re not going to compete with Skylanders and Disney. First point, north of 50 percent of the combined Skylanders and Disney Infinity business is done on Nintendo platforms in the United States. 58 percent, to be exact. We want that ongoing level of effectiveness on our platforms.
What we believe Amiibo does is offer a completely different type of experience. First, it’s Nintendo IP. That drives a level of appeal. The gameplay will be across multiple games. We think kids are going to love that. We think mom and dad are going to love that. The third way it creates a point of difference is that the demographic footprint for Amiibo, we think, is going to be much wider. We see the inclusion of the more youth-oriented characters like Kirby and Pikachu and Yoshi, and characters like Princess Peach that might have more appeal to girls. We see the collectability with young adults who are interested in our characters. We think our footprint is going to be larger than what the current toys-to-life category players have been able to create. Again, it’s a great example of entering a space, but doing it in a uniquely Nintendo way.
GamesBeat: Do you have anything else happening in relation to your health emphasis?
Reggie: We’ve got nothing to announce on quality of life. Mr. Iwata has said that he’ll be sharing more information later this year. The product itself is for our next fiscal year. But it’s continuing to be actively worked on.
GamesBeat: When you go around and look, are you pleased with what you see? Are you worried that core gaming might not be as strong as it used to be?
Reggie: I see some very interesting examples of gameplay. I mentioned what Ubi’s doing with Rainbow Six. I have to say, I see a lot of me-too content. I see a lot of shooters that don’t seem very differentiated. I see a lot of zombie games that don’t feel very differentiated. I see games utilizing gore and violence for the sake of gore and violence. I see things that trouble me. I don’t like the concept of a game where you’re shooting at policemen. I think that’s bad for our industry. But I also see some very interesting things as well.
GamesBeat: You guys are successful and have been. The thing is how much success is also all around you. There’s Supercell. There’s Minecraft. There are areas of gaming that didn’t exist before. That’s making the game business more competitive.
Reggie: Absolutely. That runs the game business. It makes it more competitive. What I find interesting are the names that people bring up today versus the names they brought up two or three years ago. In your list of examples—People don’t say Zynga anymore.
Above: Angry Birds Go
Image Credit: Rovio
GamesBeat: They said Angry Birds last year.
Reggie: Yeah, they say that less as well.
GamesBeat: One point I was going to bring up, the people who want you to go broad and big across all platforms have some examples before them, and they’re companies that haven’t succeeded with that. Angry Birds has gone past its peak. It hit every single possible platform, including T-shirts and stuffed animals. Zynga is another case.
Reggie: So what’s the lesson there?
GamesBeat: Proceed with caution, definitely.
Reggie: The other piece, I would say, is that as franchises have tried to expand beyond the executions that brought them success, has the quality of the experience been degraded? Are the games no longer fun? That’s a big issue for some of these companies that have had the one-hit wonder, or maybe the two-hit wonder. Where do you go from here?
GamesBeat: There’s still something to be learned from some of these recent successes. What can Nintendo learn from mobile or from Minecraft?
Reggie: We’re not so arrogant to believe that we have all of the answers. That’s why, at an event like this, Mr. Miyamoto and the key developers walk the floor. They see interesting examples of what people are doing. That’s why I walk the floor, to see what others are doing that’s interesting. It’s a very fast-moving category. We have to be smart in looking at what others do.
That’s why we’re experimenting with free-to-play. That’s why we’ve experimented with using smart devices from a marketing standpoint. We’re going to continue to experiment. But we’re also going to be smart in making sure that we drive our fundamental business as well.
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