While hundreds of fans lined up outside of the Nintendo World Store on Saturday night to be amongst the first people in the world to purchase a Wii U, Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aime was inside the store, answering our questions. There was less than an hour to go before Fils-Aime would take to the stage outside in Rockefeller Center and count down the seconds to midnight. As always, Reggie seemed cool, confident, and collected as we questioned him about the future of the console, the launch line up, and when we might get to see a Reggie Asks. Yesterday, we told you what NOA’s top man had to say about the delay of Nintendo TVii, and the VOD services, and here’s the rest of our conversation with Reggie, including his thoughts on Nintendo Land, TriForce, and the possibility of Grand Theft Auto on the Wii U.
Reggie Fils-Aime: Well first, 29 physical games available at launch, five digital only games available at launch, the sheer breath of support says a lot about the Wii U system. It says how excited developers are in the fact that we’re launching with digital content, not only exclusive digital content, but digital versions of packaged games. We’re fortunate, we’ve got a very strong launch line up, we’ve got a range of genres covered, and it says that there’s going to be something for everybody.
MTV Multiplayer: Do you think this round of games sets the standard for the system, or do you think the bar will be constantly raised as more games are released?
Fils-Aime: Clearly the bar will constantly be raised by developers, not only our own first party developers, but third party as well. That’s a truism in this industry. As developers become comfortable with a system they learn how to push it, they learn how to do unique things, and I’m sure we’ll see that with the Wii U.
MTV Multiplayer: In terms of the first party games, which do you think a more important title, Nintendo Land or New Super Mario Bros. U?
Fils-Aime: That’s like asking me which of my children I love the most. The games do different things. Launching with a Mario game, which is the first time that we have launched with a Mario game in years, means that for the Nintendo fan there’s immediately a game to buy, and immediately a game to reconnect with the best of the Nintendo’s franchises.
But, Nintendo Land, because of the range of experiences, multiplayer, single player, the different uses of the GamepPad itself, I actually think may be the better tutorial for how to experience everything that the GamePad has to offer. Because it’s packed in with the Deluxe SKU it means that immediately as consumers open up that game, they’re going to have something to play.
MTV Multiplayer: As part of that, you mentioned the difference between single player and multiplayer games. A lot the Wii U games at launch have at least a multiplayer element, but have something for single player as well. Do you think that is going to happen more and more? Is the Wii U going to skew towards multiplayer, and is single player going to go away to some degree?
Fils-Aime: I think that there’s going to continue to be a range of experiences. The fact of the matter is Mr. Miyamoto, for example, loves multiplayer experiences in the same room. He believes that that connection is critically important in gameplay. So, I would expect to see those types of experiences coming from Nintendo first party development for example.
Certain genres are dominated by single player, or at least single player in the same room, Call of Duty is an example. I’m pleased that we’re going to see those types of experiences on the system as well.
MTV Multiplayer: How do you think the Wii U will have the same level of success amongst as broad of an audience as the Wii did, since it presents a slightly different barrier of entry?
Fils-Aime: The Wii was historic. The fastest selling system of all time, and it’s on the cusp of having sold 100 million units globally. So, comparisons to the Wii are difficult, and the fact that we haven’t even yet sold the first Wii U, even more so, but, the range of games that we are seeing already for the Wii U says a lot. It says that there truly will be something for everyone, from 5 – 95, the most advanced gamer to the novice, and that bodes extremely well for the system. What that says is, with breadth and with lots of opportunities for people to find something they love, it hopefully suggests that the system will have a very long and effective life.
MTV Multiplayer: Going back to what you were talking about a minute ago, with the digital games that are being released, the digital incentive program is a nice way to set up and introduce that concept to the Wii U owners. Where did that idea come from, and who do you think it benefits more, the consumers or the publishers and developers?
Fils-Aime: The idea for this program really was born from the fact that we now have a very strong digital shop. It’s something that we wanted to showcase, and we wanted to encourage consumers to experience the shop, and download a full range of content from digital version of the big packaged games, all the way to unique digital only content.
In terms of who does it benefit, I think it’s has the strongest benefit to the consumer. The concept of getting essentially a 10% rebate on all of your digital purchases really allows you to experience a wide range of content, to continue to invest more and more in that digital content. I think the consumer benefits in a huge way.
MTV Multiplayer: In terms of the consumers, Nintendo as a whole has taken a much more active role in reaching out to them directly in the last year or so, courtesy of the Nintendo Directs. Those have been very informative for the audience. Where did that idea come from, and how did that become such a major initiative within the company?
Fils-Aime: It’s really interesting – six years ago was the birth of Iwata Asks, and I would focus on that as the birth of our speaking directly to consumers and informing them of our content, and how we’re thinking. Nintendo Direct is a continued evolution of that, just like our activity in social media with Facebook and Twitter. This is something that, in particular, Mr. Iwata is passionate about, and it’s clear, given his participation in the Nintendo Directs. On a global basis its something that we believe very strongly in, because in the end it’s the consumer that’s excited our brands, and excited about our content and giving them more information to make smart choices is really in everyone’s best interest.
MTV Multiplayer: At any point was there an idea of a “Reggie Asks” thrown out?
Fils-Aime: So, we have talked about it, and what I will tell you is that it’s important that if we ever do a Reggie Asks that it be on a topic that makes sense. Iwata Asks works because of Mr. Iwata’s background as a game developer himself, so he’s able to have an informed conversation with other developers, and his own curiosity is what drives that conversation. So, certainly if there’s a topic where I have passion and I have curiosity and I have an innate background in, that’s probably the topic that will lead to a Reggie Asks.
MTV Multiplayer: Any ideas of what that could be?
Fils-Aime: There are a few ideas floating around, so we’ll see.
MTV Multiplayer: As far as the games go, down the line, one of the things that, if I remember correctly, it was you talking about DS, and hoping to see a Grand Theft Auto on the DS, and that eventually came to fruition. Can we hope to see the same thing on the Wii U?
Fils-Aime: The folks there have said very nice public comments about the Wii U. In the end, it is Nintendo’s responsibility to have a large installed base, to have development tools that help the developers and publishers create great content, and essentially create an environment where teams like Rockstar can bring their very best content to our platform, and if we do that hopefully the very best content throughout the entire industry will show up on Wii U.
MTV Multiplayer: As far as the launch tonight goes, how does it feel to see TriForce at the beginning of the line again?
Fils-Aime: It feels great. I remember meeting TriForce for the very first time, clearly he’s a passionate fan of Nintendo so it’s always great to see him at the top of the line. But, I have to tell you, I love spending time with all of the fans. I made a trip on Friday night, after we had been done taping Fallon, and spent time with the fans. Just a couple of hours ago, I spent time with the fans. It’s great just to see the diversity. There’s a fan from the U.K. There was a fan from Argentina here in line. It’s wonderful, and I think it speaks to how Nintendo has been able to touch our players in a very emotional way.
MTV Multiplayer: You, in your role that you’ve been in for a few years now, at the senior executive level, you’ve essentially become the face of Nintendo of America. How does that influence the way you do things, and the way that you’re perceived outside in the public? Because you have fans out there, and you don’t often see that of too many company presidents.
Fils-Aime: It’s very gratifying. Someone was asking me about this a couple days ago. It wasn’t planned. When I was hired almost 9 years ago, it wasn’t planed that I would play the role that I’m playing, but I think the fans recognize that I play our games. They recognize that I’m passionate about our company. They recognized that I have a point of view, and I articulate that point of view, and I think that’s what they value. It’s a very humbling role, and it really makes it special on a night like tonight.
MTV Multiplayer: What do you think is the Wii U’s most standout feature?
Fils-Aime: Let me answer the question this way, I think that tonight consumers will fall in love with the games, and they will immediately see new ways to play. But, I think over the next months and years, the features of MiiVerse and the features of NintendoTVii really will be some of the defining elements of the system, because they really are mass. They really are everyday. I believe they will create an environment for how people engage with the system in new and distinctive ways.