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Reggie talks about Nintendo’s cautious foray into online gaming

Arms characters from Nintendo

It is fairly clear that Nintendo lags far behind its two major competitors when it comes to online gaming and online play. Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has spoken to GeekWire podcast about this very issue and has attempted to explain why he believes it remains the case. Reggie says that from the early days the American and European branches of the company were trying to “educate” the Kyoto-based company in the increasing importance of online gaming and how it needed to start investing in better infrastructure. While they aren’t quite there yet, they have made increasing strides to do so with the Nintendo Switch platform and Nintendo Switch Online.

“So I’m gonna answer the question from two vantage points. First, Nintendo’s business philosophy has always been to do things differently, to innovate in ways that played to the company’s strength versus playing to the strength of others. And so for example, when it came to multiplayer, Nintendo really excelled in what we called internally ‘couch play’ – sitting next to someone playing Mario Kart, sitting next to someone playing a variety of different games like Wii Sports. That in-person multiplayer really was a place the company excelled, and that’s where it placed a tremendous amount of focus.

In order to do online multiplayer, the company really needed to think about what’s the new type of game, what are the different types of experiences that we’re gonna need to create in order to now excel in that form of play. And candidly, it took the company a while to think that through, to come up with something that they believed would be fundamentally different and add value in a new way. I would argue the company’s core success started with their taking Smash Bros. – a key franchise for them – taking that online, which did exceptionally well. That begat a, not quite a first-person shooter – kind of in between a first and third-person experience – with a franchise called Splatoon, which has done incredibly well in the marketplace. So that’s the first part of the answer – the company’s always thinking about how they’re going to enter these markets uniquely, differently, and play to their own strength.

The second thing I would highlight is – and this is where it gets into some of the cultural differences. Culturally, the company didn’t see a huge opportunity in online. It was an area that the Americas and Europe constantly was trying to educate the company in Japan about the value of online play, investing in the online infrastructure which needed to be done in order for the experience to be a positive one. You’re absolutely right that of the three main hardware competitors in the video game space, this is where Microsoft invested so significantly, and it became their competitive advantage – it still is today I would argue in terms of their connected gameplay. It was a constant area of push by the western parts of the company to encourage the development and the investment in the infrastructure, and I’m sure that conversation continues today.”

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Thanks to Greatsong1 for the news tip!

6 thoughts on “Reggie talks about Nintendo’s cautious foray into online gaming”

  1. How did they not see the opportunity in online gaming. It’s the age of social media, people have become more distant and more focused on digital relationships over electronic devices rather than physical ones. Sooner or later, couch play will die out. Should’ve been a no-brainer.

    Personally, I’ve always thought that if they wanted to improve their online presence, then provide players with a online hubworld for their miis. Create a game that takes the conepts of Nintendo Land, Wii Sports, Wii Party, Wii Play, Miitomo and give the players an online hub world in the form of an island or city. We could have this whole Mii city to explore, full of references to games in Nintendo’s history. We’d have buildings and facilities we could go to which have the sports games, make Nintendo Land an amusement park in the hubworld that has it’s selection of games expanded on. There could be shops to buy furniture to customize our apartments, clothing stores to customize our miis appearance with accessories, clothes, costumes, etc. There could an arcade facility that allows us to play all the older games like GBA, SNES, etc with other players instead of Virtual Console or the Switch Online membersihp. Make it so playing online in this hubworld rewards us with points, points we can then use in those hubworld stores. We can chat with other people and play games with them, etc. This would be the perfect opportunity for NIntendo since neither Xbox, or Playstation have something like this. The only thing that comes relatively close to this is VR Chat I think, and even then, that game isn’t utilizing it’s full potential.

    Nintendo’s all about providing the most creative multiplayer experience. If they make an online virtual environment like this we’re players can freely interact with each other, then that’d easily solve their garbage online service issue by giving players an incentive to join this hubworld with everyone, and it’d certainly put them on the map for having a unique online experience. As it is right now, the switch is pretty boring, the UI is dull, the home menu is so bland and lacking potential.

  2. I’d rather play couch coop or split screen Pvp then online, i get more enjoyment playing with friends and family then playing with your everyday typical random. But that’s just because of rage quitters, gamers that use jailbroke software with modded inventory for an Op character with unrealistic stats. Lag switches, God accounts, doing money drops, camping, spamming etc.
    Im not seeing why anyone enjoys playing online.

    I hope they port the classic wrestling games like WcW nitro and ECW, with couch coop or local Pvp.

    1. It’s pretty obvious why people enjoy playing online…it’s because they can just do stuff online now. WIth all the social issues going on in the world, the general public is more susceptible to stress and depression. Video games provide a form of escapism from that. What you fail to realize is that people don’t have the time or luxury to sit down with friends and family all the time to play, so online gaming has become more convenient while couch play is becoming irrelevant.

  3. I never knew anyone to play my favorite games with, so I always prayed for sequels with online multiplayer.

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