Nintendo on Switch's success, wanting Red Dead Redemption 2 on Switch, Smash Bros. Ultimate's content, physical vs. digital, Classic consoles, and Nintendo pushing to be different

Nintendo has been riding high ever since the Switch launched. The system has seen major success, and continues to reach new heights. In an interview with HollywoodReporter, Reggie Fils-Aime discusses numerous elements concerning the Switch, as well as Nintendo's approach to content, and much more.

On what's making the Switch successful

I think it’s a number of things. First, consumers look at Black Friday as an opportunity to get their holiday purchasing going. They look at values out of the marketplace and for us, it was really important to message the type of value that we will have with Nintendo Switch during the holiday season. For Black Friday, specifically, we had a hardware bundle that included Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — arguably one of our best-selling games — a game that consumers are already voting with their wallets that they want. That bundle sold out immediately. Then, we had a strong dedicated offer for Cyber Monday and this was offering $35 in e-shop credit when you bought through the dot-com retailers. What we saw that was gratifying is that both of those deals sold out quickly and then consumers started buying stock at regular price. That’s what we expect to continue. There’s going to be no more significant deals for Nintendo Switch. We’re only in our second holiday and the consumer is indicating that, for them, this product, with this great alignment of software really is a must-have product and something that they need to have now.

On wanting Red Dead Redemption 2 on Switch

Absolutely. We’d love for it to be there. But again — and this is where there needs to be an understanding of just the development process — Red Dead has been in development for years, time that predated any communication of Nintendo Switch. So, from the developer’s mentality, they need to move forward and finish the game they’ve been working on and then be in a position to look at other opportunities. Any game from a key third-party that’s coming out now, typically that development started well before any conversations about Nintendo Switch. What happens moving forward? We’ll see. But that’s how you wind up with a situation with Red Dead not being available on our platform.

On the breadth of content in Smash Bros. Ultimate

I’ve had the good fortune to meet me Mr. [Masahiro] Sakurai, the key developer, many times, and Mr. Sakurai is a student of video games — and what I mean by that is he not only loves and plays Nintendo content, he loves and plays content from all game developers, all platforms, all systems. So, Super Smash Bros. emanates from that love for video games and video game history. He and his team are so skilled to be able to create this experience and really to make it fun. Oftentimes, fighting games, maybe because the balance between characters isn’t quite right, can end up being not a lot of fun. But he’s a master of making this type of experience fun, compelling, introducing different modes and different elements. The spirit component [collectible cutout caricatures of video game characters that lend bonuses to the player’s fighter] that’s been added in is a wonderful feature. It’s almost a way as a player to hack the game, by adding spirits and adding different abilities, changing the nature of a particular character and how they play. It is due to [Sakurai] and his skill that Super Smash Bros. as a franchise and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, in particular, is as compelling an experience as it is.

On physical vs. digital sales

Nintendo’s philosophy is we want the consumer to buy the content in the way that they want, whether it’s physically or digitally. Additionally, we work with our retail partners to enable them to sell the product physically or digitally. Earlier, I touched on Amazon and their best-sellers. Their number one best-seller last time I checked was physical copies of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The number three seller was digital versions of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So, we enable them to sell it either way, we enable the consumer to buy it either way, and from that standpoint we’re agnostic. Maybe what’s driving digital, broadly speaking, are things like indie games, which are largely digital-only; DLC and other added content which is digital-only; you’ve got each of the major players offering some sort of subscription program which is digital-only. These are unique elements that you can’t buy physically that help move the percentage a little bit further from a digital perspective.

On the potential for more Classic consoles

There’s no ability for add-on content with our classic consoles, so when you purchase the console it’s coming with that set roster of content. We worked very hard, both for the NES Classic and the SNES Classic, to really have the best games that defined that generation. We’ve said that the current systems are the extent of our classic program. We’ve also been clear that, at least from an Americas perspective, these products are going to be available through the holiday season and once they sell out, they’re gone. And that’s it. The way that consumers will be able to continue participating with our classic content is going to be through Nintendo Switch Online, and we just released three new games (Ninja Gaiden, Wario's Woods and Adventures of Lolo) from the NES generation onto that platform. We look at that as the main way that consumers will be able to experience that legacy content.

On Nintendo's push to innovate and be different

It is absolutely a conscious decision to innovate and to do things differently, to do things that are unexpected, to do things that consumers didn’t know they wanted but once we deliver that innovation it becomes, if you will, the new way of doing things, the new normal. Going back in our history, whether it’s the D-pad, which Nintendo introduced; our controller was the first with a joystick; we first introduced touchscreens to gaming with the Nintendo DS; we made AR broadly available to tens of millions of consumers, first with the 3DS and then it went to a whole new level with Pokemon Go. There are so many innovations that we have brought, not just to the video game industry, but to entertainment at large that it is core to our DNA to constantly innovate and constantly bring new things to bear. Taking those risks doesn’t come without a potential downside. One of the quotes that I love, and this is from [deceased former Nintendo CEO] Satoru Iwata, is that, as a company, we run toward risk. It’s a mentality of always pushing the envelope to be trying something new.

Check out the full interview here (thanks Sligeach_eire!)

Reggie Fils-Aime explains why E3 is important to Nintendo, and how they handle content presented at the show

While Sony has bowed out of E3 2019, Nintendo was quick to say that they'd be there, and mentioned how the show was important to them. In an interview with IGN, Reggie Fils-Aime has followed up on that initial statement by explaining why they're attending E3 next year, and how they approach content reveals at the big show.

“E3, those five days, is the opportunity for the world to find out what's new for video games as entertainment. And during that time, we generate more engagement than...whether it's CES or Comic-Con, or other big entertainment events. People tune in to find out what's new and to have first playable experiences for our industry. That's why E3 is important to Nintendo.

Our mentality has been to constantly innovate what we do and how we message at E3. We've innovated in how we utilize our booth space, to create a little piece of Hyrule or to create a little piece of the environment in Super Mario Odyssey, as examples. We innovate in how we deliver our messaging, whether it was the big stage productions or whether it's the Direct communications that we do today.

So everyone's watching, we drive innovation, we leverage the elements, so for us it's a very effective opportunity to deliver our message, and therefore it's a bit of a no-brainer for us to participate. Now, what's important as an industry, though, is that E3 in total continues to innovate and it continues to be that leading opportunity to drive consumer engagement in this way. So that's why we participate. That's why I sit on the board of the ESA and help drive some of this thinking. It's important to us.

Broadly speaking, we like to talk about games that are closer. Typically, for example, at E3, we'll focus on content maybe extending into the first or second calendar quarter following E3. That is typically our horizon. We believe that works because it's close enough that the fans can be excited and look forward to it. And when we do have an exception and do something different, we're doing it for very specific reasons.

Maybe we have two experiences within a particular franchise, and we know that one might be maybe a nontraditional representation of that franchise. Or maybe then it's important for us to frame that the more traditional visualization of that franchise is coming. ‘Fans, don't worry, but here's something different to tide you over in the meantime.’ So that's how we think about it, and how we approach our consumer communication. We want to be near-end. We want to deliver news when it's most meaningful. We don't want to be so far out that the consumer either loses interest, or worse, gets frustrated.”

Nintendo talks about the importance of the holiday season, their push for innovation, streaming games, and their plans moving forward

Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime has been running around to every/any outlet that will host him to talk about Nintendo this holiday season, as well as Nintendo in the future. In an interview with Yahoo!, Reggie talked about a number of topics, including Nintendo's focus on innovation, and more. Check out the tidbits below.

Holiday season

“The holiday selling season — October, November and December — critically important to our company. We typically do, in the Americas, about 60% of our revenue during that time frame. The reason that it’s so significant is first, our products make great gifts. Whether you’re talking about Nintendo Switch, whether you’re talking about Nintendo 2DS, we really do well with that gift- giving occasion.”


“With innovation there is always risk and as one of our company presidents said, ‘We run toward risk, not away from risk.’ With risk, sometimes you have tremendous success, sometimes not so much. One of our other company presidents one time said, ‘When things are going well, don’t get caught up in that, and when things are going poorly don’t be too sad about that either.’ ”

Steaming games

“We’re certainly observing everything that’s happening in the western markets form a streaming technology standpoint. I myself have tried the Google experience, and so it’s something that absolutely we’re all looking at. In the end though, it has to be a great experience for the consumer, and the Google experience that I had, there’s a bit of lag, and when that happens, as a consumer, you get frustrated.”

The path ahead

“You need to run the company on an even keel, and you need to be thinking about the company long-term and how to drive your next innovation and so as I look at our current performance, and I’ve been with the company for 15 years now, our mentality remains the same. We are going to continue to innovate

The consumer didn’t know that there was fun to be had with cardboard kits in an interactive experience, and the ability to create your own types of experiences using cardboard, but we delivered it, and the consumer went wild.

The consumer didn’t know that they wanted a gaming system that they could play on their big screen TV, but then take it with them and never leave the game behind. But we did that and the consumers want more.”

Nintendo says E3 is an 'outstanding opportunity' to share new games and experiences, confirm E3 2019 presence

While Sony may have bowed out of E3 2019, Nintendo has confirmed that they'll be at the big show next year. They have not detailed specifics, but Reggie Fils-Aime shared a few words on attending E3 in general.

“E3 is an outstanding opportunity for us to share new games and experiences with fans and business partners from across the globe. Every year, we discuss what will be the best way for us to take advantage of the next E3 show in order to bring smiles to people’s faces.”

Reggie Fils-Aime's full appearance at GeekWire Summit - video feature

We've already covered all the major details from Reggie Fils-Aime's appearance at the GeekWire Summit, but now a full video of the presentation has appeared. Kick back for 30 minutes and watch the big man talk about Nintendo and the goal of putting smiles on faces.

Nintendo explains why they require a mobile phone for voice chat on Switch, say they're constantly thinking about VR

We don't often get a look behind the curtain with Nintendo, but when we do, it usually comes from a PR statement from Reggie Fils-Aime. Indeed, Nintendo's big guy has once again opened up on some topics that Nintendo fans want to know about. First up, we get the most straightforward answer Nintendo has given as to why they require a mobile phone to enable voice chat on Switch.

"What we see is a situation where we know that Nintendo Switch is being played in the open, at a park, on a metro bus. We believe the easiest way for you to connect and have a peer-to-peer experience with voice chat is with your mobile phone. It’s always there, it’s always with you."

It might not be an answer you like hearing, but at least it's an answer. There's some logic to it, but I think we can all agree that there would be some better workarounds for this.

Second, Reggie addressed the topic of VR. Nintendo has talked about VR numerous times, as many wonder why the Big N hasn't pushed into that market. Here's the latest thoughts on VR from Reggie.

"This is something we constantly think about, experiment with. For virtual reality, we’ve said: it’s tech that we’re looking at, but in the end it has to be fun. That’s our mission, and that is what we do arguably better than anyone else. We have nothing to announce here on this stage. These are going to be technologies that we’ll continue to experiment with. There are new experiences we want to bring to life."

Reggie visits the DreamYard Preparatory School to share insight into his early days, working at Nintendo, and more

Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime dropped in on the DreamYard Preparatory School earlier this week. This school is where the New York Videogame Critics Circle mentors and teaches courses. He gave quite a speech to the crowd on-hand, and we've got some details that he shared.

- Reggie first focused on his roots in the Bronx, stating that he grew up a mile from the school
- he discussed the need for diversity in the games industry
- Reggie talked about the varied jobs available at Nintendo
- Reggie doesn’t believe in luck, just hard work
- Reggie shared a story about working hard to make his school's basketball team, which he was initially turned down for
- Reggie signed autographs and posed for pictures, and also answered some questions
- he played Mario Tennis Aces with senior intern Kimari Rennis, and DreamYard graduate interns from satellite locations

Geoff Keighley teases Reggie Fils-Aime appearance for The Game Awards 2018

This year's Game Awards don't hit until December, but host/creator Geoff Keighley is already teasing appearances. As you can see in the tweet above, he's gotten together with Reggie Fils-Aime to take a pic and share the tease. As for why Wolfgang Puck is there, I have no idea!

As people have been pointing out, Reggie is wearing a Metroid shirt in the picture. As to whether that's another tease or a coincidence, that's up to you!

Nintendo discusses how they handle the game development crunch

Anyone who follows the game industry knows about the crunch developers go through. The squeeze time when devs are working their butts off to get a game out by its release date. Long hours are worked, devs get less sleep, and it's a stressful time for everyone involved. Vice wanted to talk to various game companies about how they handle crunch, which is what this interview snippet with Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime focuses on.


V: How is Nintendo committed—and what are you doing now to—to ensure that there is good work-life balance and fair conditions across first party title development, your executive level, your support roles—the stuff happening at Nintendo and hopefully even at close partners? How are you combating an industry wide relationship to crunch that can often be deeply unhealthy.

Fils-Aimé: So look, I can only answer this question from Nintendo of America perspective and for us, crunch happens differently. It's not a development crunch, but it could be a bug check crunch. Or it's a crunch in preparing for an event. Or a crunch in preparing a game to pass our lot check process. Our approach is this: We flex through the use of contract employees. We flex in the way we work with our agency partners. Our mentality is we're going to flex by adding headcount as appropriate to help us get over a crunch. That's the way we approach it.

V: Does that mean bringing on more employees so that work hours don't become extensive?

Fils-Aimé: That's correct.

V: And you have examples of doing that recently? That's just the normal strategy?

Fils-Aimé: That's is our course of business. That's the way we operate. And so we're not asking people to go for a couple days without sleep. We're not asking people to ignore their family and friends and their social life. We're not asking people to do things that are unhealthy. That is not our approach.

V: Do you think that there is as Nintendo, as a platform holder, some ability that... You know, Nintendo can't fix the world, I understand that, but as a platform holder, some ability to attempt to address this industry-wide problem?

Fils-Aimé: Well, again, I believe the best way to lead the is through example. And so what we do is reinforce with the way we encourage our business partners to act with the way that we encourage, if you will, the community that we touch.

And it's not only on work life balance. It's issues like diversity and inclusion. You know, with all of those tough conversations our mentality is that we're going to model the behavior that we want seen. So that's why I have a diverse senior management team. That's why as a black man leading a Japanese company, I feel good about the things that we do to deal with higher order issues and to deal with them in a way that models positive behavior.

Reggie and Takahashi face off against Miyamoto and Mario in Mario Tennis Aces

Oh come on, Nintendo...you can't do that to us. Who was inside the Mario suit? Was it you, Bill Trinen?! WAS IT YOU?!