Nintendos Reggie Fils-Aime on Wii U stumbles and balancing nostalgia with reinvention

Nintendo is nearing its 130th birthday, and the company is once again in the midst of major changes as it embraces mobile platforms and online services. But Nintendo of Americas president Reggie Fils-Aime says that should come as no surprise: We reinvent ourselves every 5 or 10 years. We have to. Its in our DNA.
In an interview at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle, Fils-Aime talked, in his immaculately Nintendo-promotional manner, about the companys ups and downs over the last decade and what it took to get the Switch out the door.
We focus on giving consumers experiences that they havent even thought of, he explained. Anyone who has followed Nintendo for a few years certainly wouldnt disagree remember the vitality sensor? By going down this path you create doubters. And well be the first to admit that there will always be stumbles along the way.
The Wii had sold a hundred million units globally; the Wii U did not have that same level of success, he admitted. Thats something of an understatement; the Wii U is widely considered something of a boondoggle, interesting but confusing and hugely outgunned by the competition when it came to what was valued by the rapidly growing mainstream gaming world.
Nintendos Reggie Fils-Aime on Wii U stumbles and balancing nostalgia with reinvention

But in the words of one of our presidents this is [Hiroshi] Yamauchi when youre doing well, dont be excited by that high-flying performance, and when youre doing poorly, dont be said. Always have an even keel, he said. Not exactly catchy, but it is good business advice. The focus should be on the horizon.
And thats where it was, despite the painfully low sales numbers and lack of third party support. As he tells it, they just plowed ahead with new lessons under their belt.
If we had not had the Wii U, we would not have the Switch, he said seriously. What we heard from customers was that the proposition of a tablet on which they could experience gameplay, coupled with the ability to play games on the TV, is really compelling. Users were telling us, I want to play with this tablet, but when I get 30 feet away from the TV, it disconnects. The one point gamers all hate is the point where they have to put the controller down. So it was an important step for us to be able to deliver on this proposition.
Nintendos Reggie Fils-Aime on Wii U stumbles and balancing nostalgia with reinvention

When I first saw the embodiment of that system, he recalled, the hairs on the back of my neck raised up. It was the same feeling, he said, that he had with the Wii Remote and the DS both featuring technologies that people were highly skeptical of at first but proved versatile and compelling.
Touchscreens werent common when the DS came out, and motion controls werent common when the Wii came out, he noted. Both have since become mainstream not entirely due to Nintendos success with them, of course, but it would be disingenuous to say that had nothing to do with it.
But while the company can rightly be said to be taking risks in some ways, in other ways it is uniquely stuck in the past. Its most successful franchises are well past a quarter of a century old.
As Fils-Aime sees it, however, this is exactly how it should be. Mario and Link are characters the way Mickey Mouse or even someone like Robin Hood are characters. New franchises like Splatoon can be established and cared for, but the traditional ones (though no one mentioned Metroid, predictably and unfortunately) should be recycled and brought to new platforms and generations.
Nowadays that includes mobile games, where Nintendo has been taking tentative steps in recent years.
Nintendos Reggie Fils-Aime on Wii U stumbles and balancing nostalgia with reinvention
Nintendos latest has been criticized for its unvarnished quest for players money.
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