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Iwata - Wii U sales, conveying hardware message, GamePad before iPad and much more

On Wii U vs. Wii Sales...
"I don't think there's much point comparing the weekly numbers to the Wii, or the weekly numbers themselves. Worrying and rejoicing each week is something we can't avoid. On the subject of the reaction to the Wii U, there are still things we must do, things we must overcome. That's what we're waiting on."

"I think it will take a little time for our customers to understand the Wii U."

On customers' satisfaction with the Gamepad...
"Setting aside the satisfaction some purchasers have with start-up and software change speeds, which we will improve, speaking only of the 2-screens, people find that they enjoy the Gamepad more than they thought when they actually hold it themselves. People realize the importance and benefits of having a personal screen that works in conjunction with the TV the more they use it, slowly, but that doesn't transfer to people who have yet to use the system."

On transmitting a system's message...
"[The initial reaction to the DS] was terrible. The DS began with sentiments like 'Has Nintendo lost the plot?' and 'have they gotten that desperate?'. When the PSP released, no one thought that the DS would succeed. That was the narrative at the time, but when things like Brain Training and the DS Lite came out, that changed. Afterward, people thought, 'Ah, so that's what that was, huh?'.

"The Wii was an exception. With the Wii, the DS Boom was in full force, and we were able to show off the tennis demo using the Wii Remote Controller, and it was a simple concept for everyone, one that could be understood immediately."

"We were really lucky, but at that exact time, the popularity of large-screen flat panel TVs was increasing, and the living room space opened up a little bit. We had a really strong wind behind us (luck) and we didn't have to work particularly hard to send our message."

On accusations of copying the Ipad...
"We began talking about having another screen being a good idea around 2008. We thought thoroughly about our other options, but in the end, this was the idea which was the most logical for us. So, in 2009, just as we began to press forward with this idea, sure that we were on the right track, this thing called an 'Ipad' came into the world."

"So, 2.5 years after the debut of the Ipad, when we were announcing the Wii U, it was the start of the tablet boom, the reaction was, 'Nintendo's just added a tablet to a game console, and there'll be no revolution this time.' Even though we'd been working on dual screens prior to the release of tablets, it looked like we were just following a trend."

On changing the way families play games...
"The Wii, with which we wanted to change the way game consoles existed in the family environment, changed the perspective and the result was the Wii U. The Wii's challenge was to, once again, gather the whole family in the living room to play. A restoration of tea time. Before digital TV and flat screen TVs, the number of TVs per family had been increasing, and it was common for there to be a TV and gaming console in the kids play room or bedroom. Because the big, good quality TVs entered the households, and they wanted to use them, families that had been separated came together once more in the living room and we were successful.'

On the concept of Off-TV Play...
"But, with that change, the TV also became a shared item and people who played games were interrupting people who did not. This was a dilemma. So, when making the Wii U, we discussed what could be done about situations where you were told to stop playing games because someone else wanted to watch the TV. We came up with many ideas internally and combined them in the Gamepad."

On beating Smart TVs at their own game...
"When we thought of the Gamepad, I was convinced that future TV remotes would, like the Gamepad, come with a screen attached. This is the so called Smart TV, right. TV manufacturers have, for a long time, been making trials for the internet to be viewable on TVs, but the hurdle with that is that inputting text on a regular remote is very difficult. There is [was] no remote that allowed you to read, touch, and type in your hand."

"There, the TV purchase cycle is, at shortest, 5 years, and at longest 10 years, and since many families have only recently purchased a new TV, many will likely not purchase one for a while. So, while thinking all this, we thought how about we make a game console that borrowed from the concept of future TVs. Change the pleasure of using the living room TV experience at once, sort of thing."

On increasing the gaming population...
"There are many things on the internet that are more interesting when viewed together. Watching videos, shopping, trip planning, and the Street View Google Map service [which will begin on Wii U] this month, in January. This way, if it's an enjoyable experience, for people who don't have any interest in games in the family, rather than something that's a hassle to have, the Wii U can become something that they have a connection with."

"I am still thinking about increasing the gaming population, and it's something I'd like to spend my whole life doing. Not becoming an enemy of mothers is healthy. Previously that idea wasn't in the minds of game shops, and I said it a little too forcibly, maybe, but now I don't talk like that. People are aware of that idea now, see. But the way of thinking hasn't changed. In order to realise that change we must improve the reception people have to Game Console Companies. For example, suppose there is someone who doesn't play games, but does watch Youtube, and this person gets used to holding the gamepad, the threshold for gaming has been lowered in them. Or, until now, there has been cases of a mother wanting to watch TV, but the child doesn't want to quit his game, and then they argue over it, but now the kid can continue playing solely on the pad. It is in this way that we can change the reception of gaming companies."

On Miiverse, empathy, and social gaming...
"The outlook for Nintendo fans on social networking services such as Twitter is worsening. If we look into it, the people who used to post about Nintendo are satisfied with Miiverse and have stopped posting online as much."

"When we first spoke about Miiverse, we were told that trying to make a social network now was a fool's errand. We were asked by many people why we weren't simply connecting up with Twitter or Facebook. But, what we thought would be good about the service has largely come true and, as of right now, our customers are really enjoying it. The networks of people on Facebook and Twitter aren't all people you are playing games with, right? From my viewpoint, I don't use Twitter or Facebook [privately] but if I were to, it would be about things like 'Hey, wanna go for a drink?' 'Wanna go on a trip?' 'Why don't we have a class reunion?', and so on, it wouldn't be just about the people who I am playing games with. Because I couldn't tell my high school buddies that I had got a high score in Mario Kart. (Laughs)"

"We, Nintendo, have always thought this, but games shouldn't just be about the time you spend with a console, but also telling people that you passed something, or that you found a neat trick is interesting. If I were to put a name on it, it would be empathy."

"Mr. [Shigeru] Miyamoto has been talking about this concept for years, the reason that the games that he makes are popular around the world is that they have that meta-shared experience between players. Mr. Miyamoto likes making you feel that, and giving you the ability to feel that. It was at a time thinking about that that we received the original idea for Miiverse. Like 'Ah, this is an empathy network.'"

"So, with 'empathy' as a theme, we created Miiverse to make games played alone not a lonely experience, but one that you could experience with many people. In order to make that a reality, we had to integrate it into our platform, and support it as a unified service."

”[Regarding Miiverse on PCs and Smartphones]I can't make any concrete statements about when it will be available yet, but it won't be far away."

"If there was Miiverse on the 3DS [Note, the article mentions this is still the intention] it would probably be something amazing. If Miiverse and Animal Crossing were integrated together, we'd have the chance to create something even more awesome [than what is going on now]."

On personal information posted on Miiverse...
"We delete personal information immediately. Never longer than 15 minutes. It would be too late to act once something has happened."

On additional charges for games...
"It's built to be difficult to have unlimited charges. Each time the charge screen will appear, or you need to recharge in 1000 yen increments so it's very difficult to be charged just by continuing to push a button."

On the company's philosophy...
"We aim to leave a smile on our customer's faces, no matter whether it's the game being interesting, a parent and child talking about gaming, or a grandfather being able to remain cheerful. Because it's worth doing, our staff can smile too. If our performance rises, so too our investors smile. If this chain is successful, Nintendo can be something worth keeping and continuing, and we can fulfill our responsibility to society."

"[Nikkei]Former CEO Mr. Yamauchi taught Mr. Iwata, his protege, that 'when selling leisure items, which are not daily necessities, if you win it's heaven, if you lose it's hell,' as well as the concept of remaining calm in the face of disappointment and skilled indifference. This mean that when you are not blessed with luck, without panicking, calmly prepare, and work hard, when you are blessed with luck, you remain thankful and work hard calmly. So, Mr. Iwata intends not to be hung up on the upcoming profits and focus on working on creating pure products. 
Looking at Nintendo's 123 year long history, the current situation is only a small blip. They have 4.1 billion yen or more in cash and internal reserves. When we asked Mr. Iwata about his hopes for the coming year he responded that 'As we have no new hardware releasing this year, we must work hard to surprise and delight people with our software. I want this year to become one where many people can feel the bright future of the dedicated console gaming business. It was short and sweet and with it we feel Nintendo's strength and awareness with its unchanging position of calmness.


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16 total comments (View all)
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 05:29

While the concept of two screens is nothing new for Nintendo, Wii U is a different beast than Nintendo's handhelds and the market is a bit different. However. I think the Wii U will turn out like the DS. Once Nintendo and third parties start utilizing the full hardware and explore more possibilities for the GamePad, the system will catch on with the general public like the DS did and it'll have its own "Ah, so that's what that was, huh?" moment.
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 05:58

So, they ARE working on faster loading times. That should shut people up. Great article. I wish Nintendo all the success in the world. I hope they destroy the nay-sayers!
No Avatar
14 Jan 2013 07:17

I love that man. He's so open about their philosophy and failures and everything, and what he says makes sense.
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 08:15

Mostly good stuff. The first comment is the only real worrysome one about initial perception of the Wii U. But I might be reading too much into it.
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 08:38

The Wii U could be the console version of the DS. I sure hope so! Will get loads of great and unique games... Hell yeah!
No Avatar
14 Jan 2013 12:04

To be honest, I'm getting a little tired of that whole "I think it will take a little time for our customers to understand the Wii U" talk.

Listen, Nintendo, I really DO get it! I just need you to give me some Killer Apps. And I am not talking about a 2D Mario game here...
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 12:42


It already IS just a DS.

"I think it will take a little time for our customers to understand the Wii U."

Or they get it and they just don't like what they see.

""I don't think there's much point comparing the weekly numbers to the Wii, or the weekly numbers themselves. "

In other words we only compare numbers when they make us look good. If that werent the case why do they ALWAYS bring up 3DS is outpacing the DS?
No Avatar
14 Jan 2013 13:52

I agree that the first year of new hardware is always the most painful. The eagerness for the killer games (Pikmin 3!); the bugs that need to be worked out of the system, etc.. But in the end, it's worth the wait. When Nintendo turns 125, I'm going to be enjoying Pikmin 3, Smash Bros, etc... Should be fun!
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 13:59

I remember an interview that IGN had with i think Iwata or Miyamoto where they talked about how they didn't like that the console was tied to the tv and couldn't be enjoyed without it. this was before the Wii console was fully revealed. alot of readers were speculating that the Wii had a projector hidden under the tiny door on the front of the Wii.

if they started thinking about the screen on the gamepad in 2008, i wonder what ideas they had prior since they were thinking of ways to get away from the tv with the Wii.
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 14:02

Am i the only that enjoys how Iwata talks or at least how what he says gets translated. This man doesnt get the recognition he deserves. Ever since he took over, Nintendo has been profitable beyond their dreams. How many men do you know would slash their own salary in half instead of resulting to layoffs simply because the launch of one of their products didnt go as expected. One thing he said is for sure, you wont really "get" Wii U untill you own one. I expect Wii U to sell the same way the Wii did, by word of mouth.
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 16:18

That was a fantastic read. I can't wait to see how the in system software evolves for 3DS and Wii U and I know for a fact there's going to be some big games coming out this year.

The Pokemon announcement really came out of nowhere and knowing Retro Studios has a project going, Monolith has a project going, Sakurai has is working on Smash Bros, Itoi is up to something, the LoZ team is hard at work on something new, Mr. Miyamoto has a project in the works and a new 3D Mario is in the works, I'd say Nintendo is shaping up to drop bombs. There's also the possibility they have other projects nobody was expecting in the works and they acquired new studios as well as teamed up with more 3rd parties to publish their games.
No Avatar
14 Jan 2013 17:36

Nintendo of Japan and Nintendo of Europe seems to be getting the message to the people that the Wii U is something new.

Nintendo of America is not telling people the Wii U is a new system but rather a tablet for the Wii.
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 17:39


You really have a problem with the WiiU don't you? ;) It's rare to see YOU write such negative comments on a Nintendo site about a Nintendo console. Are to go into detail?


Of course they have some games in the works. This is a "Like DUH" moment ;) And since Sony and MS are revealing new consoles this year (and maybe even releasing them) Nintendo need some bigger guns for E3 to dent the two competitors' events. BUT Nintendo SHOULD show at least ONE new game soon. GDC perhaps?
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 18:37

Great Iwata interview. Let's see how this plays out in the coming months this year. ^_^

sigh_guy wrote:To be honest, I'm getting a little tired of that whole "I think it will take a little time for our customers to understand the Wii U" talk.

Listen, Nintendo, I really DO get it! I just need you to give me some Killer Apps. And I am not talking about a 2D Mario game here...

You're not the one 'running' Nintendo, you know. Don't act so impatient. v_v
User avatar
14 Jan 2013 18:49

@TheBitBlock Did a Wii U kill your dog or something? Your hate for it seems personal...

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