The Binding of Isaac Rebirth

Reggie on wooing core gamers with Wii U, marketing plans, slight hope for Nintendo Power

Forbes: One of the reasons the Wii has been a success is because it expanded the market, and attracted a lot of first-time console buyers. How do you convince these new gamers to become return customers? I hear people saying, “I already have a video game machine. Why do I need to buy a new one?”

Reggie Fils-Aime: Well, what we’ve seen is that these new entrants to the market really have broadened their own gaming experiences. They started by playing Wii Sports, but then they graduated to games like Mario Kart and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Then they continued on to experiences like Donkey Kong Country Returns or The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. So their gaming tastes have matured.

So we’ll continue to have all the family-friendly fare like Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Brothers U… but in addition, we’re going to have more active gamer content, which was something that was missing other than from Nintendo’s first party titles. Maybe these new entrants will find their first opportunity [to play] something like Call of Duty now that it can be delivered through Wii U.

Forbes: You’ve had issues winning over hardcore gamers because of big third party games, particularly first person shooters, that came out for PlayStation and Xbox, but not Wii. How do you fix that?

Reggie: I think you have to peel the onion back and ask why. And the why is that publishers creating these types of games have wanted to leverage their assets amongst multiple platforms. So when they created HD, online-driven platforms, it took them a significant amount of work to bring it on to the Wii. And that’s why we didn’t have those games. Now that we use HD and have strong online capabilities, we’ve broken the biggest barrier that the third party publishers had. Plus now we’re giving them this fantastic new tool called the GamePad to create new experiences.

So I mean you’re seeing it here –50 games in the launch window, demonstrated support by three of the biggest western publishers, plus all of the great support out of Japan. So we’re confident that we have this system that really will draw the best of third party publishers.

Forbes: One of the Wii U’s selling points is the unique multiplayer experience –one player using the Wii U GamePad and looking at their own screen, while other players use a remote and look at the TV. How are you going to sell people on a different kind of gaming, instead of just a bigger, faster machine?

Reggie: This challenge is a challenge we’ve faced before. Getting consumers to understand the two screen experience on the Nintendo DS is an example. Getting consumers to embrace motion gaming when they had never seen anything like a Wii remote before. Our approach is to partner our marketing teams with the product teams, and make sure that we identify those key product-based selling points, and then communicate them as broadly as possible.

So for example, you will see much more focused marketing that showcases this two screen experience, and why it’s so much fun. You’ll see much more hands-on activities for consumers, so that they can experience it themselves. We’ll be in malls across the country beginning right around Black Friday, to help consumers understand what this experience is all about, and to get them to advocate for it.

Forbes: Last month the editors of Nintendo Power announced that the magazine is shutting down after 24 years of publication. But they didn’t go out of business –Nintendo declined to renew their license. Does that mean that you have other plans for the license, like producing the magazine internally?

Reggie: We had a fabulous relationship with [Nintendo Power publisher] Future. When we made the decision a number of years ago on who would be the best publishing partner to work with, hands down they were the right choice, and they did a phenomenal job.

But this is a tough time for the print industry. And so mutually we came to the decision that Nintendo Power in a printed form didn’t make sense today. What the future holds, we’ll all see. But right now that December issue is going to be the last one. I’ll make sure to have my copy. I was a subscriber to the publication before I worked for the company, so the Nintendo Power brand personally is very meaningful to me. It’ll be a sad day when I open up that last issue.

Forbes: But you’re not closing the door on it returning, maybe as an online-only publication?

Reggie: We have nothing to announce today and there are no plans that are currently in place, but you said it. The Nintendo Power brand is very strong.

Full interview here

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