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INTERVIEW: When Martyn met David

Ben Parfitt
INTERVIEW: When Martyn met David
It’s been a fantastic year for Nintendo. What has been the highlight for you?

There are probably too many to list, but I think the most satisfying aspect is to see our products being played and enjoyed by a much wider audience. One item I had a chuckle over which really showed how far we have come with expanding the market was when a young reporter was interviewing an OAP in a nursing home over the fact they were using games. The reporter wanted a go but couldn’t work out how to play the Nintendo DS, so the OAP suggested it might be good idea to turn it on! What a role reversal – someone in their eighties showing a 20-something how to play games.

What’s the outlook for Wii and DS in 2008?

We hope that we can build on the hard work and foundations that we have laid in 2007 and carry that momentum into 2008. We’ve got some great titles coming on Wii including Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros Brawl and Wii Fit. And on DS there will be some great additions to the Touch! Generations range.

It may be a strange question with DS Lite performing so well, but when will we see the next handheld from Nintendo?

We’ve got no plans at the moment to release any new handheld, especially whilst demand for the current one is so strong. But we always look to innovate and will never rest on our laurels.

What other publishers have most impressed you this year and why?

I have to be careful here that I don’t offend any of my friends from the other publishers, but probably Ubisoft for being the first company to really see the potential of DS and Wii.
But I’m sure in 2008 everyone else will certainly catch-up. Sega has recently shown what is possible with a fantastic achievement on Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, hitting the All Formats number one spot.

What is your take on how PS3 has launched? And how do you see the future for PS3 and 360 in 2008?

To be honest we’re just really focused on what we are doing right now and we’re looking to what the next year has in store for us. We’re not really looking over our shoulder and we’ll continue to forge our own path and do our own thing when it is right for us to do so.

Has 2007 seen any change in how Nintendo focuses on the UK market?

The UK has always been a key market for Nintendo in Europe and that focus remains for 2008 and beyond. As far as Nintendo UK has been concerned we are continually looking to try and improve on how we do business here. I personally still believe there’s huge room for improvement and we still have the opportunity to work much more closely with our customers and business partners to further expand the market and create further efficiencies.

Do you think the High Street has supported Nintendo well this year and what would be your one request to all retailers for 2008?

We appreciate all of our customers, whether they are big or small, a large multiple or small independent. There is always room for improvement with our in-store proposition but we can’t manage this without retailer support. To some extent what retailers have supported is their cash register and this has meant we have in general received pretty good support. Some retailers have talked the talk, but not walked the walk, therefore in reference to that for 2008 my one request would be ‘compliance’.

Which game have you played most in 2007 and what game are you most excited about in 2008?

A constant title by my side in 2007 has been 42 All Time Classics on DS and lately I’ve been know to partake in a spot of diving with Endless Ocean. But only when I can get my son off Guitar Hero III. For 2008 I’m most looking forward to Mario Kart on Wii.

Activision and Vivendi's merger is massive news to end the year on. What is your take on the outlook for the smaller publisher in 2008?

There is always room for someone who can be innovative and quick on their feet. Sometimes, due to corporate requirements, large companies lose some freedom that then restricts the creative process. A case in point is looking at the success 505 Games had with Cooking Mama and some of the Rising Star Games titles that delivered in 2007. That’s only two examples but show that there are opportunities to be grasped.

Santa seems to have a great distribution network. Would you consider using reindeer next year to get more Wii and DS into the UK?

I think that even Santa would have struggled this year to cope with the demand for Wii and DS. As a retailer you’ll know that we’ve done all we can to be as clear, transparent and open about stock and its arrival as possible.

We’ve done all we can to ensure that as many people as possible are able to get hold of our products in the run up to Christmas and beyond.

Did you enjoy the Rugby World Cup this year? It was certainly a highlight of mine – especially when we beat Australia...

I had a great time and overdosed on rugby. Although we were robbed in Marseille, I still enjoyed the whole atmosphere and experience.

I was disappointed that a Northern Hemisphere team didn’t win. I was actually hoping that France would have won the World Cup as that would have been good for the game’s development in France and the rest of Europe.

Australia wasn’t good enough and they got as far as they deserved. Until they get a decent front row, they are going to struggle.

Nintendo moved into Windsor this year. Do you have a flag raised when you are in the office?

There isn’t anything as grand as a flag right now – but when I’m in the office all the staff lift their heads off their desks and sit to attention.

We do have the changing of the guard that marches past our office twice a day which seems to go down really well with all our visitors. We are looking to try and sponsor them so that they will play music from our games. But I don’t think it is in the military manuals as being appropriate.

Where do you house the numerous BAFTAs that you have won? Isn’t your mantlepiece a little overcrowded?

Our BAFTAs and other awards are all stored together and have pride of place in a display area in our reception. We’re very proud of every award we win and are tremendously grateful for the recognition we have received from all corners of the industry.

One of your personal achievements this year has been to move into your new home. Does it not seem ironic that the one problem you have had has been with flooding? I would have thought you knew a good plumber...?

Unfortunately my usual plumber was too busy flying through space, saving a princess. I was lucky though because I hadn’t put my wine in the cellar before we were flooded. Now it’s in full view all of the time – and I have to be strong not to drink it.

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