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Iwata/Miyamoto on Animal Crossing: New Leaf's success, localization, Wii U asymmetric gameplay

Iwata:


These charts tell you about the Japanese user demography of "Animal Crossing: Wild World" for Nintendo DS released seven years ago and the relatively new "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" for Nintendo 3DS. It is little use making a simple comparison due to the difference in the time from their respective releases, but we would like you to see the user difference through the data of Club Nintendo registrants for these games. In some age groups there are many Club Nintendo members and not in others. The blue circle indicates the position of the average number of Club Nintendo members. Then the portion outside the blue circle means there are more registrants than the Club Nintendo average, while the inner portion represents the number of registrants below average. In these cobweb charts, the right half of the cobweb chart represents male users from age six at the top to over 45 at the bottom and the left stands for females.

The graph on the left shows "Animal Crossing: Wild World" for Nintendo DS released quite some time ago. As it had been very popular among children and has finally sold more than five million copies, the portions representing users aged 12 and under in particular spread outward. You will also notice the huge presence of the female registrants. Compared to this game, you can see from the graph for "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" for Nintendo 3DS just after its launch that it is more popular among girls than boys and is popular among adult women. In addition, the portion showing both male and female registrants aged 19 to 24 protrudes outward sharply, which is not the case for the Nintendo DS software. "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" appeared seven years after the release of "Animal Crossing: Wild World" and 19-year-old people were 12-year-olds seven years ago. We think that those who enjoyed "Animal Crossing: Wild World" seven years ago were probably the first consumers to buy "Animal Crossing: New Leaf." In this sense, there are many consumers who understand the attractions of the Animal Crossing series through playing the Nintendo DS version, and we were able to communicate the improvements in this Nintendo 3DS version to them. Another factor is that consumers are more likely to see what their friends are interested in now through social media than when we released the Nintendo DS version. There are some users who became interested in "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" and bought it because their Twitter timelines were filled with other people's tweets about it. Also, we released the "Animal Crossing: New Leaf Direct" video (Japanese only), in which our developers, negatively speaking, rambled on about this game for more than 45 minutes, and it has attracted no less than 1.6 million views on YouTube and what's more, the most popular way to see it was from smartphones. We think that this result was caused by the changes in information channels.


One more thing to mention is that "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" has increased the number of female users of Nintendo 3DS. This chart shows changes in the weekly trends of the female ratio of Club Nintendo registrants since the launch of Nintendo 3DS XL and week 16 was when "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" was launched. Although the male-female ratio of users of most Nintendo platforms is more or less equal in the long run, Club Nintendo in which you can earn points for special gifts like a mileage service has relatively more male registrants, about 60 percent. The female user ratio in week 16 was 50 percent, but taking into consideration the trend of registrants in Club Nintendo, the actual female ratio could reach two thirds of the total users. As the female ratio remains higher than before the launch of "Animal Crossing: New Leaf," we can definitely say that this game has increased the number of female users of Nintendo 3DS.


The graph on the left shows the overall Club Nintendo registrants and the right one indicates those who registered "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" and the Nintendo 3DS hardware at the same time. In the graph on the right, female users aged 19 to 44 account for an extremely large portion of those who bought Nintendo 3DS to play "Animal Crossing: New Leaf." This single game has increased the number of our consumers and has given momentum to the entire platform.

You mentioned that the reception of "Animal Crossing: Wild World" was not so good overseas. The sales of this game have reached no less than five million copies overseas. There are few companies whose result of selling more than five million copies of a product is considered not up to scratch. It is true that the sales figure overseas, meaning in the U.S. and Europe, is relatively small compared to the fact that the number of sales has surpassed five million copies only in Japan, but there are already some core fans of the Animal Crossing series overseas too. When we announced "Animal Crossing: New Leaf" through our Japanese Nintendo Direct presentation, many consumers worldwide viewed it on the Internet and we received a lot of requests from overseas consumers who wanted to play it as soon as possible. We would like to first promote the attractions of this game to such a core fan base.

By observing what has happened surrounding "Animal Crossing: New Leaf," we have been able to analyze how the relevant information spread in Japan and how so many people were willing to participate in these communications. Before we released "Brain Age" for Nintendo DS overseas, we promoted it there in reference to how it had become popular among people here in Japan. As we did for "Brain Age," we would like to have overseas consumers understand this game with the help of our knowledge of what happened to this game in Japan and what kinds of information channels were suitable for it. When it happens, we will have more opportunities to have more people abroad accept the Animal Crossing series. Some might be concerned about whether the graphics used for this series will appeal to consumers overseas, but I think we have the odds in our favor.

As for "asymmetric gameplay" of Wii U, whether the name is good or not is different from the reputation of "Nintendo Land" as the representative work incorporating such gameplay. We know some criticized the name "asymmetric gameplay" as debatable and not intuitive, and we have reflected upon its actual explicitness to consumers. On the other hand, we don’t think that asymmetric gameplay itself lacks in appeal because we have received a lot of comments that the gameplay of "Nintendo Land" is in practice interesting. In short, we unfortunately have not overcome the hurdle to come up with the best words to make people easily understand the value of such gameplay. As "Nintendo Land" is to be a longtime seller during the lifespan of Wii U, we would like to somehow invent a way to have many people understand the value of "Nintendo Land" and the appeal of gameplay with both Wii U GamePad and a TV screen. Now I would like Mr. Miyamoto to say something about "Pikmin 3."

Miyamoto:

Please let me go back to "Animal Crossing: New Leaf." In playing a game, I myself really value how much I can identify with it. In addition to the feature that you are appointed as the mayor of the village in the beginning, we implemented more elements you would identify with than its earlier series such as the conversations with animals in this game. I believe that such elements will be accepted worldwide, overcoming the barriers of nationality and trends. Although it is important how to promote this game through Twitter and other media, the basic stance as a developer is, first of all, to localize this game carefully. We have a lot of issues to consider, including how Japanese puns should be translated, for example why a white turnip can be traded like a stock.

With regard to "Pikmin 3" for Wii U, I don’t want to be misconceived, but the biggest draw of this game is the higher-resolution images through the high-definition graphics. You can even see Pikmin’s gestures with the graphics. We are not going to put asymmetric gameplay in a game if it is unnecessary. In this game, you can see the entire map on Wii U GamePad. The two screens of the TV and Wii U GamePad will let you see what you are doing at any time during your gameplay, which alone is a great evolution for a strategy game. As a side note, you can play this game only with Wii U GamePad. If it is hard to imagine what it will be like, maybe you can recall the visuals of the original "Pikmin" for Nintendo GameCube and imagine how you can play it with the smaller but more detailed screen in your hands. The two control sticks of Wii U GamePad will let you play this game more comfortably and, with a TV screen, the gyro sensor inside Wii Remote Plus will further help your gameplay. Wii U GamePad will give you style variations of playing this game and playing only with Wii U GamePad might be a good experience for you. I hope you will like this game.

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