The road to XBOX ONE. Follow the journey

INTERVIEW: Nintendo

Ben Parfitt
INTERVIEW: Nintendo
Nintendo's determination to get our brains, eyes, faces and bodies trained to perfection is certainly an admirable quality. And while the Japanese platform holder continues to breed a Nintendo-loving race of superhumans, it also happens to be making record profits and broadening the appeal of our industry.

That inclusive attitude couldn’t be better encapsulated by the Mind, Body and Console event last week. Held at a health spa, it was a showcase for titles like Sight Training, Endless Ocean and most significantly Wii Fit – games that aren’t really games at all. And alongside the usual crowd, Nintendo’s audience was a lot more varied than your usual games industry event.

“In terms of the mainstream press, in the past maybe you’d only have a few of them here,” begins David Yarnton. “But now that DS and Wii have become this big phenomenon, they’re all a lot more interested.”

He’s right, of course. The past two years have been revolutionary for Nintendo and the games industry at large.

After so many years of selling games to gamers, change is afoot – and it is Nintendo that’s at the forefront of this brave new world.

“The way things are going and the numbers we are talking about is not what the business has been about in the past,” says Yarnton. “This is uncharted territory and I think we’re just scratching the surface.”

If this is just the beginning, then Nintendo has made a pretty good start. ChartTrack’s weekly hardware sales reports confirm this, says Yarnton.

“When you look at the figures it’s obvious the whole market’s growing because we’re expanding the audience. Most weeks the DS is the top seller, and if it’s not DS then it’s Wii. All the sales figures are as we expected and in a lot of instances they exceed expectations. We have looked at growth and we have achieved that.”

And these stunning sales are all part of a masterplan formulated several years ago, says Yarnton. “When you look back to when we launched DS, we said we were going to do a million units of DS hardware – and I think a lot of people at the time thought that because PSP was coming we might not be able to do it.

But we did a million, and then the following year we said we’re going to do 1.5 million – and again people thought that wouldn’t happen. This year is going to be the biggest year we’ve had on DS – that growth is still there. We know that the numbers in the last few weeks have been phenomenal – and we’ve still got November and December to come.”

And that well-publicised disruptive approach is now reaping very real rewards in the home console market too, says Yarnton: “Wii is a whole new ball game. Once people saw the product and its potential, we had the same. Some had their doubts, but it’s been the same with Wii as with DS – it has just snowballed. On a week by week basis we are exceeding targets.”

As Wii approaches its first birthday, Nintendo has already done a phenomenal job in changing the way the world looks at our industry. And with titles to come like Wii Fit, it seems the good times have only just begun.

YARNTON ON…

THE STOCK SITUATION
“Every year it seems to happen with stock being tight, and I don’t think that this year is going to be any different. We’ve got regular stock coming in – every week we are getting more and more into the channel so it is constant in terms of shipping. As for demand, we can’t predict whether that number will be enough at the moment – probably not. But you can’t just turn on a tap with hardware.”

SOFTWARE SUPPORT
“We are getting phenomenal support from third parties. As we all know game development takes time but we are getting more and more people coming on board with Wii. We’ve got our strong franchises that have always been popular, but we have even more coming from third parties, which in the past we didn’t have. It was the same thing with DS – people tend to take a little while – they’re not going to just jump in blindly. But now publishers have been a lot more forthcoming.”

THE CONSOLE COMPETITION
“I think sometimes people look to compete with someone else rather than concentrate on expanding their business as best they can. We’ve looked at the way we do things here in the UK over the last few years – and we’ve changed the way we do business, we’ve changed structurally and also added more resource. A lot of the time we look outside the industry for ideas – you can’t be too insular.”

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