A portion of an Alphabeatic interview with Pierre-Paul Trepanier from Nintendo Canada...
A: Nintendo has bounced back from a few years of losses. What do you attribute it to?
PPT: Amiibo was one of the factors, it certainly surprised us how enthusiastic our fans embraced it to the the degree where we’re still struggling to catch up to demand in some cases. Beyond that, Wii U – which struggled for many years, and to be honest, we’re still not completely satisfied with where it is – had its best year in 2014.
This year so far in Canada, Wii U is up 19 per cent based on NPD numbers. Last year was a huge growth year with big launches like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros.
Why the turnaround? I’m a gamer and I’d say it’s because we’re delivering the fun. When great games come out and they’re well reviewed… if you look at our Metacritic scores over the past few years have been great and positive. Our games are being enjoyed and they’re very high quality games.
It’s a unique formula of Nintendo fun. It’s bright, primary colours, it’s very welcoming and fairly easy to jump into. It’s a family or friends get-together experience. That formula seems to be catching on and driving the Wii U business.
On the 3DS side, it’s doing even better. It’s up 38 per cent based on NPD so far this year, mostly driven by the new 3DS XL launch back in February.
A: What’s the feeling internally on Splatoon?
PPT: Our presale numbers were amazing, close to Mario Kart 8 numbers a year ago, which is amazing because Mario Kart is an established franchise. Splatoon’s challenge is that a few months ago, nobody had ever heard of it.
I love that as a dad it’s something I can play with my seven-year-old. It’s a complete revolution on what a shooter can be.
We’re looking at first weekend sales of about half of where Mario Kart 8 was. Given that Mario Kart 8 was one of the best-selling games last year, that’s extraordinary for a brand new IP like this.
A: I’m guessing you won’t be able to tell me about the next Nintendo console?
PPT: Yeah, I don’t think we’ll be talking about it at E3 this year. We have a lot of great games to talk about and we’ll be completely focused on that. We’ve kind of jumped ahead and announced a whole bunch of things yesterday. At E3 we’ll be spending a lot of time on Mario Maker, which I’m personally excited about because I know my son and I will be trying to outdo each other building impossible Super Mario levels for each other.
A: So having third-party developers is a nice-to-have but not a have-to-have?
PPT: We would love to have [them] and you’ll hear in a few weeks about some interesting partnerships. We’ve already over the past year opened up and aggressively sought licensing deals in lots of different areas. In the video game space you’ve seen Nintendo characters appear in other game worlds. It’s also happening outside the game world, with the Universal Studios partnership that will bring Nintendo to fans and families through theme parks.