Siliconera and the Assistant Editor for Zelda Universe, Melena, recently had the chance to catch up with Reggie Fils-Aime, Chief Operating Officer of Nintendo of America. During the interview, Reggie answered questions ranging from Operation Moonfall, Monolith Soft, gaming innovation, the state of Nintendo in 10 years, and regional games being developed in America by North American Studios.
When talking about the greatest innovation in the past ten years in the gaming industry, Reggie gave quite a simple answer.
“It’s gotta be the WiiMote. The WiiMote introduced a completely new style of play that arguably set an industry standard for motion controls, and let the consumer experience games in an entirely new way. The thing, I think, that’s really set Nintendo apart from the competition is its focus on new styles of play. We’re always looking for ways to innovate, ways to bring new and fun experiences to the consumer. In the end, it’s all about the software, and all about how you experience that software—and controllers have a huge effect on that.”
The WiiMote did set an industry standard when it came to motion controls, as Sony decided to release a very similar peripheral called the Playstation Move after the release of the Wii. The Xbox 360 later released Kinect, which was very much entrenched in motion control and had a camera that tracked your movements for motion control gameplay. Nintendo “revolutionized” the last generation of gaming with the WiiMote. Reggie also believed that the 3DS was one of the biggest gaming innovations of the past ten years.
“So here’s what’s interesting. The question that you asked me is “what was the single biggest innovation in the video game industry in the past decade?” if you would have asked the question differently, during my tenure, what was the gaming system that arguably has redefined the industry, I would’ve said the [Nintendo] DS. Because if you think about it, it was the first system that had a touch screen, a built in microphone—and the types of games that that enabled? You know, in many ways, it’s the forefront of what’s happening now with mobile and touch and things of that nature. The system that sold over 150 million globally?”
What is fascinating is that the DS pre-dated devices such as the iPhone, which was released in 2007 (the DS was released in 2004) and was the first system to successfully utilize touch screen technology. It paved the way for companies such as Apple to utilize the touch screen and it not only changed the video game industry, but the tech industry as a whole.
Reggie continued to defend the Wii U’s lineup of games, arguing that the system has had a steady stream of games since July. In addition, Wii Fit U will release in January, Donkey Kong in February, and Mario Kart in Spring 2014, and Super Smash Bros. with no set release date, yet slated for a 2014 release.
Nintendo is also looking to the Americas in terms of original titles. Nintendo has two studios based in North America: Retro Studios and NST.
“The fact of the matter is, we have two internal studios that are based in the U.S.: we’ve got Retro, and we’ve got NST. In addition, there are a number of key relationships we have with companies based here in the Americas. The team that did Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, for example, is up in Vancouver. We’re looking to build more and more relationships with great developers here—developers who can take some of our best franchises and help create fantastic content.”
When speaking about Monolith Soft, Reggie emphasized to not take too much into account when looking at the end credits of games. He is even credited at the end of some games that he had little to no involvement with. He did hint though that Monolith Soft is working on something major, possibly Project X, and had a huge smile on his face when talking about it.
“They may be there [in the end credits of those games] but I would be careful looking too much into that. It’s funny with those end credits, I see my name pop up and it’s like, I have nothing to do with this game! I mean, I appreciate the credit—but I’m not always directly involved with them. We’ve shown some footage of a new Monolith Soft game, though, so they are certainly working on something! [Reggie smiled wide when he mentioned this.]”
“Let me put it this way: when I joined the company, if someone would’ve whispered to me, Hey Reggie imagine—we’re going to have a remote that, when you move it, things happen on the TV—and then, we’re going to have a remote that has a screen displaying different things than what’s being displayed on the big screen! I would’ve asked, “All right, are we going to do this in ten years? In twenty years? When are we going to do this?”
I mean, the wonderful thing about Nintendo is that we’re always thinking about what’s going to make people happy? What’s going to be a great experience? And then we create the content and hardware to bring it to life. So, what are we going to be doing ten years from now? I don’t know what the hardware is going to look like, but I can guarantee you that the software is going to make you smile.”
Finally, when talking about Operation Moonfall and Operation Rainfall, Reggie had this to say:
“I have to tell you—it doesn’t affect what we do. We certainly look at it, and we’re certainly aware of it, but it doesn’t necessarily affect what we do. I’ll give you an example. I mentioned earlier that our head of product development had a bet on X versus Y—we also had a bet around localizing Xenoblade.
I wanted to bring Xenoblade here. The deal was, how much of a localization effort is it? How many units are we going to sell, are we going to make money? We were literally having this debate while Operation Rainfall was happening, and we were aware that there was interest for the game, but we had to make sure that it was a strong financial proposition.
I’m paid to make sure that we’re driving the business forward—so we’re aware of what’s happening, but in the end we’ve got to do what’s best for the company. The thing we know [about petitions] is that 100,000 signatures doesn’t mean 100,000 sales.”
This makes it sound far less likely that Majora’s Mask will see a re-make for the 3DS, like Ocarina of Time did.
“I was humbled by his professionalism and dedication to fans. Reggie made sure to reach out to everyone at the event, and was open to input regarding marketing strategies, Nintendo Direct, and reaching out to new Nintendo fans.” Melena, Assistant Editor for Zelda Universe