The Wii U has done a fair job becoming a solid console; however, at the same time, it never really clicked with audiences the same way Nintendo’s other machines had in the past. The company’s “cheap and simple fun” approach was swallowed whole by the mammoth of HD gaming. Even more devastating to the brand name, Nintendo failed to introduce it to the world properly.
It leaned far to much on the success of its previous console, the Wii, leading to a confusing message about what the Wii U actually was. “Is the controller the console?” “Is this an extension of the original Wii?” “Will my Wii-motes still work?” These were genuine questions consumers asked when the Wii U first entered the public eye, and these responses provided a valuable lesson for the company.
Nintendo must do a better job introducing and marketing the NX, and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime explained in an interview with alistdaily how it plans to do so.
Many thought Nintendo was in dire straits after GameCube failed to find an audience, and then Wii exploded. Are there lessons learned from Wii U that are being applied to NX?
Every time we launch a new platform, every time we launch a critical new game, we always learn. We always do our breakdown of what worked, what didn’t, and certainly we’ve done that with Wii U, and we continue to believe that the innovation of the second screen was a worthwhile concept. The games that we’ve launched on the Wii U are hugely compelling: Splatoon, Super Mario Maker, Smash Bros., Bayonetta 2, the Super Mario game, The Legend of Zelda. Arguably, if you line up all of the single platform games for Wii U and the other two platforms, we have by far the most unique games that are highly rated by consumers and highly rated by the media. So those things worked.
One of the things that we have to do better when we launch the NX—we have to do a better job communicating the positioning for the product. We have to do a better job helping people to understand its uniqueness and what that means for the game playing experience. And we have to do a better job from a software planning standpoint to have that continuous beat of great new games that are motivating more and more people to pick up the hardware and more and more people to pick up the software. Those are the critical lessons. And as I verbalize them, they’re really traditional lessons within the industry. You have to make sure people understand the concept, you have to make sure you’ve got a great library of games, and when you do that, you tend to do well.
Fils-Aime also dove into its recent foray into mobile apps and explained where the company is going from here.
What are some of the lessons learned from launching mobile apps?
We’ve seen that we can capture people’s attention in the mobile space. Certainly, we’ve seen that we can create an application that’s fun, distinctive, and that has all of that Nintendo charm. And certainly, we’ve seen a huge amount of consumer participation with the app, especially the Wii Photo app. Wii photos are showing up all over the place. We’ll apply those lessons to the Fire Emblem game and the Animal Crossing games that are launching. In addition to those two, there are another two that will be launching between now and the end of our fiscal year. So we’ve got a strong pipeline of mobile activity that we’re going to continue to bring out into the marketplace.
What impact do you see smartphones playing as a feeder system into these franchises as you launch original mobile games?
Our overall mission is to make consumers smile through our intellectual property. There are four key pillars underneath that mission. One is our dedicated video game business. The second is mobile. The third is licensed merchandise, and the fourth is other entertainment best shown today by our partnership with Universal Studios. All of those we’re going to leverage to drive appeal for the IP. And as we do that, we’re going to monetize those in a variety of different ways. We believe that as a wide swath of consumers have an experience with Fire Emblem on mobile for example, that it’s going to lead them to purchase the full Fire Emblem experience that today is on our handheld. That’s the proposition and we think it’s a very sound strategy.
The NX is expected to launch in Q1 of 2017, and a reveal should happen before the fall season is out.