A portion of an IGN interview with Reggie Fils-Aime...
IGN: Let’s talk about Yo-Kai Watch. Nintendo took Pokemon, a game that a lot of people thought was too Japanese and could possibly not do well in the US, and turned it into a success. There are a lot of parallels between Pokemon and Yo-Kai Watch, so what’s Nintendo’s strategy this time around? How involved is Nintendo in helping it succeed?
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.
IGN: So you are working on timing for all of it to come out together?
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.
IGN: Will Yo-Kai Watch remain exclusive to Nintendo 3DS? Have you locked this thing down for the next five to ten 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.
IGN: But how do you convince Level 5 to keep this franchise on Nintendo’s 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.