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The Nintendo difference

The Nintendo difference
We’ve all heard the talk about Nintendo’s commitment to disrupting the market with new games experiences – and since the launch of Wii, another piece of that vision has slotted into place. Nintendo’s DS handheld was easily the top-selling console of 2006 and with Wii still out of stock thanks to what Nintendo describes as ‘unprecedented demand’, it seems Nintendo is already proving its doubters wrong.

While Sony and Microsoft continue to battle it out over the high-end ‘traditional’ gamers’ market, it is clear that Nintendo is playing an entirely different game. Armed with hugely impressive installed base figures (see cover story), Nintendo now plans to show the games industry what breaking through to the mainstream really means.

MCV caught up with top Nintendo executives David Yarnton and Dawn Paine to get the inside track on what’s coming next from the platform holder – and their excitement and optimism for the months ahead couldn’t have been more explicit. Here’s what they had to say…

Wii remains sold out across much of the country – when do you think UK retailers will be able to say they are in a free stock situation?

We’ve been shipping stock on a regular basis – as soon as we ship it in, it’s gone. Looking at it historically, the numbers we are doing for this time of year are unprecedented. It’s not just a phenomenon in the UK, it’s across the world. We’d love to turn the tap on but you can’t do that, so we really can’t put a date on when we’re going to be able to be in a free stock situation.

Has the demand for Wii – even five months down the line – taken you by surprise at all?

We always expected positive things from Wii. The company is producing over a million units a month at the moment and then ramping it up for this financial year we’re looking at close to 14 million. At the moment Europe is very much getting its fair share. In the past people have argued that Europe’s always been the poor cousin, but I can reassure you that’s not the case here. The attention Europe gets from the head office in Japan is great.

How do you respond to the criticism that there aren’t enough games to satisfy Wii owners at the moment?

If we look historically, we’ve had one of the largest number of titles available at launch, and we have a strong line-up coming. There is huge support from third parties – in the past they might not have developed for Nintendo. We also have a large number of exclusive titles. Developers and third parties are seeing what creative opportunities they have. They are really excited about Wii because it allows them to push the boundaries a little bit rather than making something that’s graphically a little bit brighter. It’s an opportunity for much more diverse gameplay.

Nintendo had a great summer last year – are you looking to push that even further this year?

Because we’re appealing to a much broader market now, we’re appealing to a much wider market outside the normal gamers market as well, it’s become the less seasonal. So in times where people often say ‘you can’t sell games’ that’s not the case; the audience we are looking at now will buy at any stage and at any time.

What can we expect from Nintendo in the run-up to Christmas in terms of software and hardware?

With Wii, whether its peripherals or other extras, I think there are real opportunities there. Something like Wii Channels, where we have news, weather, a voting channel – all these different opportunities. It’s content that’s important, and then obviously we’ll have whatever we need to enable that content. We are very much looking to expand our audience and looking to expand what we can offer.

Can you give us an idea of what you have planned for Wii’s online service?

We’re very keen on what we consider to be social interaction and looking to involve people. Our offering is very much an open situation with a number of people playing, we will look to expand upon that. We want to involve everyone, so we want to keep it very simple. The service will vary according to the style of the game. We’ve got lots of options and we’re looking all the time to expand that, but not so that it is insular – it has to include everyone.

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