Regaining what we have lost : Nintendo CEO Iwata's Ambitions for the "Wii" (page 2)

May 25, 2006

Not a Next-Gen Console

Q: I have had hands-on time with the prototype myself, and find it difficult to express the enjoyment I feel with it – or should I call it immersion – with words.

Iwata: One of the issues we are faced with is how to convey its appeal to the users. For conventional games, showing innovative visuals on a TV screen would be sufficient advertisement. Interfaces cannot be represented numerically, and need to be actually used to be appreciated. Sony and Microsoft must be having their share of problems, as even though game consoles are sporting better graphical capabilities, most households only have SDTV sets, making them unable to enjoy the HDTV quality offered by the game console itself.

Though I'm aware this may be misunderstood, Nintendo is not working on a next-generation console. "Next-generation" implies that the console is an extension of previous installments. We believe that extending our current line will not lead to larger markets, and could possibly even lead to smaller markets. We need to introduce innovative appeal if we want to increase the number of people enjoying games. Recent games have complex control schemes and a steep learning curve for the inexperienced. Those with little gaming experience prefer watching someone else playing to playing the games themselves. Such is the status quo today. That is why we hoped to create an interface that would appeal to anyone.

Building on the success of the DS

Q: Wasn't there concern from developers with the innovative controller design?

Iwata: Deviating from tradition is a bold move for anyone. When Nintendo opted for the dual screens for the DS, more people were shaking their heads and wondering what we were thinking, than commending us for the decision. Yet the market turned out favorable to the DS. We had successfully proven that it was possible to expand the market by changing the user interface. I feel that this had led to more people looking upon our new controller favorably.

Q: Did Nintendo's disadvantage in the console market help in making this bold decision?

Iwata: Nintendo once was the champion in the console market, yet is now the challenger. Challengers have a hard time getting the market to listen to them. Our intent was to revolutionize the user interface in the portable games market, where Nintendo is the reigning champion, and follow that up with the Wii's success in the console market. We have earned support for our user interface innovation much faster than I had expected, and this should help propel the Wii forward.

Q: Is the "Virtual Console" concept proposed by Nintendo another step in the pursuit of simplicity?

Iwata: When creating a packaged game to be priced at 5,000 yen, developers tend to feel the need to create a rich game. Yet it is possible to create a reasonably entertaining game in 2 months with a team of three. Offering such games for 500 yen over a network could lead to a reasonable number of people purchasing it. By offering an environment that allows this, we hope to encourage more developers to pursue basic yet enjoyable gameplay. Of course, content-rich games have their own merit, and I have no intention of discrediting them. Such games are important in their own right, and will continue to be in demand. Still – think about it – eating French cuisine or a full dinner each day would quickly lead to boredom, wouldn't it? You’ll want a simple bowl of rice and soup every now and then. Our intention with the "Wii" is to propose an alternate approach to gaming business, as the gaming industry is currently far too single-minded.

Appeal with the Power Off