During the past few days, Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s president, has once again discussed various matters related to Nintendo in several interviews.
Check the Q&As below.
From Polygon Interview:
On how amiibo doesn’t distract Nintendo from its main business of making games and consoles:
“You are talking about very different parts of our organization. Amiibo is really a supply chain challenge and process right now: Getting the core design, building the mold, managing the production. Our amiibo are hand-painted. So it’s a very intricate supply chain. The people involved in doing that are not the same people involved in creating the games and creating the implementation.”
On how Nintendo is launching more games over the next 6-9 months than all of last year:
“There’s no issue with our first- and second-party development. In fact, I don’t know if you’ve been to Kyoto recently, but we’ve got a whole new R&D building that is full of developers; whether they are software developers or hardware developers. So, we’re increasing our capacity to create more content. We’re focused on creating great content.”
On how Nintendo was always bullish on the toys:
“The toys-to-life category is most developed here in the United States. Early on, we challenged our internal supply chain that this was going to be big and we needed to scale it up. The fact that we had supply challenges probably says we didn’t think big enough. But certainly the demand has been exceedingly strong.”
On waves of amiibo:
“We think this category and Nintendo’s execution in the category can be significant. We are going to come out with a regular pacing of waves.”
“We are going to continue to launch these, there are many more figures to support,” he said. “We are going to continue to innovate with different form factors and our developers are going to continue to find unique ways to leverage the amiibo. Our developers are having fun in finding ways to leverage the amiibo functionality across all of our different games.”
“You’re going to continue to see a range of executions and range of different functionality.”
From Kotaku Interview:
On Nintendo’s E3 presence this year:
Fils-Aime: “I’m feeling good. The booth is full of smiling people. They’re excited.”
On the Nintendo World Championships:
Fils-Aime: “This year’s World Championships was a phenomenal success. We are certainly going to go back to [Nintendo of America HQ in] Redmond, look at what we achieved and challenge ourselves what else can we do. Not only in terms of how broader do we potentially make it geographically, but what’s the right frequency? Probably not waiting another 25 years would make some sense. But we’re going to talk about it and see. No commitments, but certainly we know the fans were excited and from a business perspective it was an unqualified success.”
On his Smash Bros. match with Hungrybox at the NWC:
Fils-Aime: “You’ve seen my Nintendo 3DS. You know I play our content.”
Fils-Aime: “You saw my progress in New Super Mario Bros. 2. I can show you my Animal Crossing house. I can show you the progress I’ve made on every single Zelda title. I play our content. The fact of the matter is I’ve never been a good Smash player. Never. Never.”
Fils-Aime: “And so in a momentary loss of control last year, I made a bombastic statement that came back to haunt me. Hungrybox is actually right here in our booth right now. Great guy. But yeah he kicked my butt.”
On whether Reggie did any training beforehand:
Fils-Aime: “No. No. I picked up the controller once leading up, because I played a new character. And so… no. I had not done any training. Maybe that was my problem.”
On the negative reaction to Metroid Prime: Federation Force:
Fils-Aime: “Here’s what I would state: we know what our fans want. We will also push the envelope in developing something that we know is high-quality and that we know will deliver in the marketplace. The best example I can give you of this, and I think you will appreciate it, is Legend of Zelda Wind Waker. Remember when that art style was first shown. The uproar from the Zelda community was intensely negative. If there had been social media then, there probably would have been a petition to make that game go away.”
Fils-Aime: “So, the game is developed, becomes one of the most beloved games of all time, one of the most highly-rated games of all time, so I use that example to say: ‘We know what we’re doing, trust us, play the game and then we can have a conversation.’”
On whether Nintendo knows people still want a Samus Aran adventure:
On how Kotaku was surprised there was no messaging saying “Don’t worry, we know you’re interested in this as well.”:
Fils-Aime: “Look, we know that the fans want a straight Samus Aran game. We also know that the best way to launch a game like that is to surprise and delight them, to give them a launch date, in an environment like this let them play it vs. what other companies do which is to announce a project that you may not see for five, six years. It’s just not the way we do things. We know the community wants to see a straight-up Metroid game. We know it.”
On Mother 3:
Fils-Aime: “My laser eyes will blow you away. [Note: He’s referencing a joke about responding to Mother 3 questions from last year’s Nintendo E3 video.] Look, again, I think this is an example that demonstrates we’re constantly listening. We’re hearing what the fans say. And we thought it was great to bring back the very first Mother, Earthbound Beginnings here in the market. It’s been out for sale and doing quite well in the eShop. Again, we’ll never say never, but there’s nothing to announce right now.”
Fils-Aime: “The Mother/Earthbound series is quite niche. And so for us it’s constantly thinking about the investment and then return for a game like that. There is quite a bit of localization to be done and we just need to make sure that volumetrically there’s enough volume to offset that investment.”
On whether how EarthBound was received last year helped motivate to get Mother 1 out:
Fils-Aime: “That’s exactly right. “
On how amiibo are doing:
Fils-Aime: “We just launched wave 4, and over roughly the past 30 days we’ve sold over a million amiibo in just the United States. What does that suggest? It suggests we’ve made dramatic improvements in the supply chain, that we’re putting significant amounts of Amiibo into the marketplace. We’ve done replenishments on Marth. We’ve done replenishments on the Wii Fit Trainer, some of the more rare Amiibo. So, our strategy is to satisfy as much of that demand as we can and that’s what we’re working hard to do.”
On those who say Nintendo intentionally constrains supply:
Fils-Aime: “That’s why I shared the million-unit number. You don’t sell through a million units by constraining supply. And, honestly, there is no business in disappointing your consumer. The mentality that suggests we are somehow constricting supply is rubbish. We want every consumer to be satisfied. We want every Amiibo player out there to be a completionist and have every single one. We’re working hard to get the supply into stores.”
Fils-Aime: “I think you have to put the auction person off to the side. Right. The flipper, you have to put them off to the side. This is a consumer who thinks these are like gold. We’re focused on the everyday consumer, and we want that consumer to be completely satisifed. In the end, though, the retailer manages how they execute a pre-sale or how they make the product available. We certainly give suggestions and guidance. The retailer is making that call. And, again, to separate, when there’s a supply issue, that’s Nintendo’s fault. but in terms of managing a pre-sale process, that’s something that each individual retailer controls.”
On the Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL:
Fils-Aime: “And we brought that back a second time as well. That’s another case where we saw that the pre-sales were going extremely strong, the production cycles on that is quite long, so we made an immediate decision to make more to get that into retail about a month after the first grouping had sold through.”
Fils-Aime: “I hope your readers are excited about the 3DS line-up, which is quite strong… I hope that your readers are excited about games like Xenoblade Chronicles X, big massive game. We’ve created quite a series of hits in the RPG area on our 3DS business. We think we can replicate that on the Wii U business. That’s something we’re looking aggressively at.”
From Fortune Interview:
“We have a long and deep history with VR with Virtual Boy, and we also have a history with augmented reality because there’s AR in Nintendo 3DS. We know the tech and we know how the tech has evolved. For Nintendo, we always go beyond the tech to make sure that the experiences we do are fun and they’re social, and I think those are the two key opportunities today on the VR/AR space. Are they both fun and social? I don’t think that’s there yet. So we’re going to continue to stay close to the technology. We’re going to continue to do our own internal experiments, but we don’t believe it’s ready for prime time yet.”
“We saw success last year with the Smash Bros. Invitational, and Smash Bros. has always been a game in the eSports community. What we’re really gratified to see is that the community has now embraced Super Smash Bros. for Wii U because it has the speed and customization they like. We’re also seeing them embrace Mario Kart 8, as well as Splatoon, in a competitive environment. We’ve always been close to the eSports space and will continue to be.”
“We’re fortunate that we’ve got the range of content to pull it off in the here and now, and we’re really gratified to see the reactions. All of that is going to go into the mix as we think about proper opportunities, future E3s as well as potentially taking the idea outside of E3. So it’s something we’re going to be looking at really hard.”
From IGN Interview:
On Yo-Kai Watch:
Reggie Fils-Aime: Nintendo is quite involved. This is a game that literally sold millions in Japan, and it helped drive a lot of hardware especially with younger kids. So we view this as a very strategic title for us. The team at Level 5 is driving a lot of the localization. We’re playing a bit of a consultation role, but we’ve had a lot of deep conversations around the need for the anime to be out in the marketplace, and to establish the importance of key partnerships in the toy space.
We believe this game could be a very strong hardware driver for us, especially with younger consumers. We think the pairing of this game, especially with our 2DS business, can be quite strong. And we’re very excited about it coming this holiday.
Fils-Aime: We’re working on the timing. I would not say that it’s all going to happen together. The toys especially are a long lead-time. That’s something that has challenges from a timing standpoint. But the goal is to sequence the anime on broad scale TV, the game, and the toys as a one, two, three-type of implementation.
On whether Yo-Kai Watch will remain 3DS/Nintendo exclusive for the next few years:
Fils-Aime: The partnership is very strong with Level 5. I think the Level 5 team has seen how Nintendo creates the handhelds of choice, especially for younger consumers. I think for both companies there’s a clear belief that this has the potential to be a strong, long-term relationship much like we’ve done with Pokemon.
On how Nintendo can convince Level-5 to keep Yo-Kai Watch on Nintendo platforms versus smartphones:
Fils-Aime: Here’s the reality: There’s not a lot of five to seven year-olds walking around with smartphones. Even in the tablet space, mom and dad might hand over their tablet for short periods of time. But with this game, much like with any battle-trade-share type of game, the kid consumer is going to spend a lot of hours. The benefit of doing that on a dedicated device is very strong.
On why Nintendo didn’t talk about mobile gaming at E3:
Fils-Aime: E3 is a console gaming show. And I say that despite all of the mobile entrants that are here. I say that despite mobile content that a number of publishers show. Like many folks, I watch a lot of the conferences. And you can hear the groan when a particular company talks about mobile in their presentation. That’s not what the media and the attending consumer at the show really want to hear about. And so that’s why we’re focusing on console gaming here. We’re focusing on our Wii U business and on our 3DS business. There’s going to be lots of opportunities to talk about mobile, NX, and our IP expansion. We just don’t feel that it’s the proper venue to do that at the show.
Fils-Aime: What I’m saying is that, from Nintendo’s perspective, at E3 we want to focus on console gaming – handheld and home console – and, in our view it’s best to focus on a tight window, essentially from now until early 2016. That’s our mentality. I’ll grant you that it’s a different approach than other people take. People will come to this show and showcase concepts that aren’t going to hit the marketplace for three years. This is not what we believe in.
On Nintendo’s digital business vs. retail business:
Fils-Aime: Here are a number of points. First, our digital business is growing very strongly. That’s because the content that we offer in our eShop goes beyond simply what you can get at retail. Yes, we have what we call dual-distribution titles. These games are sold through the eShop and retail. But we also have Virtual Console, which is content you could only get through the eShop. And we also have content specifically designed for the eShop that you can’t get anywhere else. That combination has created a very effective, growing business for us.
Second point: both the Wii U and 3DS, in the Americas, are effectively 100% connected devices, meaning the consumer has setup a [Nintendo Network ID]. They connect to a Wi-Fi network. For us, that’s a very effective means of not only driving our eShop business, but also driving a number of other ways we connect with our consumer. GamePad alerts are one example. The level of connectivity is the strongest in the Americas. That’s something that, from a business standpoint, we can drive very effectively here.
The third point is that the actual sell through of physical versus digital really depends on the game. Let me give you two examples. A very large percent of Animal Crossing, and in that same genre Tomodachi Life, sold digitally. Why is that? Well these are games that the consumer wants to always have with them. They want the five to ten minute opportunities to open it up, visit the island, and do something fun. They don’t want to deal with swapping out game cards. It’s a very quick experience.
On the other hand you have games like Super Smash Bros. The Smash Bros. player does not want to invest literally 100-plus hours and, even in the back of their mind have a sense that something might go wrong and lose the time invested. Not that it would happen, because our systems are very robust. But what I’m talking about is what’s going on in the minds of that consumer. And so the digital percent for Smash Bros. both on Wii U and 3DS is lower than average.
We’ve learned that it is game-by-game how the digital percent equates. We’ve gotten to a point where we can estimate pretty effectively what that mix is gonna be.
Fils-Aime: If you look at our annual report, it shows the progression of our digital business. If you do the math, roughly, it shows that digital revenue is about 20% of the total. So 20% is the average. Animal Crossing, for example, is north of 30%. A game like Smash Bros. is less than 15%.
On the amiibo supply situation:
Fils-Aime: It really has been a production challenge. There’s two parts to that. Certainly in the holiday season, and specifically here in the U.S., we were challenged by the port situation, of literally getting the product off the boats, into our warehouse, and then back out into retail. More recently, it’s been a pure demand issue. The ports are open, we’re getting all the product in, but demand has been exceeding supply.
We made a commitment to our consumers that we would do better and we would bring more, globally, and we’ve done that. Just here in the United States, over a roughly 30 day time period during the launch of the most recent wave, we’ve sold through over a million units of amiibo. A million units of amiibo in about a 30 day timeframe. You don’t do that without managing your supply and getting a lot more product out into retail. So we’re making progress. We know that for certain amiibo that we launched during waves 1 and 2, that those continue to be scarce, and we’ve made the commitment that we will resupply those, and we will.
We want the consumer to be able to find the amiibo they want. We’d love for the completionists out there to have every single amiibo and we’re working hard to enable that to happen.
On the resupply for amiibo:
Fils-Aime: The fact is that the replenishment happens on a continual basis. Effectively, it’s happening now, as we put more various amiibo in the marketplace. We announced about a week ago that Wii Fit Trainer was out on the marketplace and it was. It quickly sold through so we have more coming in. We want to make sure that every consumer who wants a particular amiibo is going to be satisfied to the best of our ability.
On retailer-exclusive amiibo:
Fils-Aime: It is. I want to be clear on this: when we do a retailer exclusive, as we resupply, it’s gonna continue to be exclusive with that retailer. That’s a commitment that we’ve made to that business partner. So yes, we’ll be bringing in more of those retail-exclusives over the next number of weeks and months.
On amiibo pre-orders:
Fils-Aime: We’ve shared with retailers the things that we’ve seen in terms of consumer frustration. We’ve certainly given them some of our thoughts, but in the end, this is for the retailer to execute. So, I hear your point. Our role as the manufacturer and the IP holder, if you will, is to share that feedback as clearly and directly to our retail partners as we can and we’ve been doing that.
On how Nintendo seems to have a lot on its plate between Wii U, 3DS, NX, mobile gaming, Universal theme attractions, etc:
Fils-Aime: So rest assured that we are driving all of these initiatives. The one element maybe that consumers don’t necessarily have a sensitivity to is that before we make an announcement about a particular initiative, work has been going on behind the scenes for an extended period of time. It’s not like the day we make an announcement, we’re like, “Let’s get some work done!” So from that standpoint we’ve been putting resources against all of these initiatives for quite some time.
The best example of this is the new Research & Development center that went up in Kyoto. That building is already quite full with developers. Developers working on all of these projects as well as others. So we are committed to bring each of these initiatives in a way that surprises and delights our consumer. In typical Nintendo fashion, we’re going do it when we feel it’s appropriate.
On whether Nintendo could do a partnership with something like Disney Infinity:
Fils-Aime: There are a number of different things that we can do, there are a number of different things that we’re talking with different business partners about. We have nothing to share here, but to your general question, is Nintendo prepared to partner with the right company to do unique and compelling experiences for consumers? The answer is yes. We’ve got a history of doing that.
On Nintendo’s successes/what they could improve on in terms of the Digital Event:
Fils-Aime: First is that the Digital Event is one tactic, one of many tactics, and I would encourage us all to look at E3, at least from Nintendo’s perspective, as the series of events that we’ve executed over the last couple weeks, starting with the Mini Direct, where we highlighted a number of key 3DS games that we wanted to make sure would not be overshadowed if we simply introduced them today.
Case in point, Chibi-Robo! – people are very excited to play that game. Personally, I really enjoy playing that game. Something like that, with its charm – in our view – had the risk of being lost. Communicating games in advance of E3 was a key tactic for us. What we did on Sunday with Super Mario Maker, we thought was very strategic. Certainly, the excitement we’ve created for that title is palpable. That was a key thought process. Then you look at the Digital Event and how we showcased Yoshi’s Wooly World, Mario Maker, Star Fox… we think that was very effective.
In terms of opportunities for improvement… there are games where you need to have hands-on time to really appreciate. Certainly, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is one of those types of games. We anticipated that consumers would say “Where’s Samus?” and “Where’s my traditional Metroid Prime game?” We anticipated that. As I walked the floor and talked to people who were playing Blast Ball, they’re loving it. They’re excited about it, they’re excited about the controls. One of our challenges at Nintendo, always, is how do we communicate the charm and appeal of a game to people who don’t get a chance to play it? It’s always a challenge. I say with Federation Force, we may have fallen a little short in communicating what the charm is of that game. Good news: we’ll have lots of other opportunities to address that and get people to experience it hands-on. We think they’re gonna come away in the end feeling like it’s a lot of fun.