Nentendo's corporate investor relations have published a financial results
briefing for the 67th fiscal term of the company, ending March 2007. In it,
they stage a 27 question and answer session with Nintendop CEO Mr. Iwata.
Much of what is discussed is relevant ony to Nintendo investors, or the general
gaming market. However, several passages are very interesting:
Tell me about the Wii Channel possibilities and its effects upon your sales
and profits. Right now, except for Virtual Console, you are offering all the
services for free of charge. How will you take advantage of them, as marketing
tools or as a revenue source? Will you also increase the number of paid services?
We created the Wii Channel structure after asking ourselves such questions
as "How can we make a video game machine that will be relevant to all family
members?" and "How can we make Wii the machine that puts smiles on surrounding
people's faces?" In other words, we did not mean to make it to be a revenue
source in the beginning. Having said that, however, the Wii Channel has ended
up with a structure that has a number of potentials. The structure to electronically
deliver and bill for the contents is up and running globally, as has already
been demonstrated with the Virtual Console. So, when Nintendo thinks we have
a Channel which is worth asking our customers to pay for, we are in a position
to make a business out of it.
At the Tokyo Game Show of September 2005, Mr. Iwata mentioned that the
unique controllers for Wii would be good for First-Person Shooter games. What
kind of core-gamer reactions have you received, say, for Metroid Prime 3?
The game has yet to hit any market, so my comments are referring only to
the feedback from the game's testers. Talking about the first-person shooters
in general, many of the players are playing FPS games on their PC, not on
home console systems. Specifically, I heard they often say that FPS are more
effectively played with keyboard and mouse rather than home video game systems'
controllers. They can aim the target with mouse and move their characters
with keyboard. Those who recognize that mouse and keyboard combination is
the best for FPS are now sharing with us their impression that Wii Remote
and Nunchack of Wii give them quite similar play feel.
Even those who are not good at FPS are now commenting that the Wii Remote
and Nunchuck are lowering the hurdle for them to get started. We really want
to invite newcomers to the world of first-person shooter games. Also, there
are other areas where rather sophisticated play control systems have already
been established, such as sports game titles that EA is famous for. With the
Wii Remote and Nunchuck, we believe there are lots of new possibilities which
are worth exploring.
Nintendo has been taking very cautious attitudes on doing anything other
than game entertainment. I also understand that this is not the year when
you should explore something completely different in a public way, as you
should focus upon the expansion of Wii hardware. However, I would like Mr.
Iwata to tell us what kind of image you have about the challenge, schedule
and size of these non-gaming efforts.
You said that Nintendo has been cautious in doing anything other than games.
It is true that Nintendo is an entertainment company and that Nintendo should
focus upon entertainment. However, my understanding is that entertainment
is expanding its framework. In the past no one would think that training your
brain or studying English could be a video game, but they do now. Even cooking
is a video game today. Compared with how Nintendo defined video games 5 or
10 years ago, we are now involved in far greater fields.
We cannot review any proposals that may harm our existing business model
of video games. On the other hand, as long as they do not interfere with our
business model, I think we should review any such possibility. I am afraid
but I cannot give you any concrete example today, but Nintendo is not reluctant
in this kind of approach. With the increased numbers of a hardware with one
architecture, there will be a variety of different possibilities for the machine
to be used for the better sake of society, and it can be a step to make DS
"the machine that enriches the owners' daily lives."
I don't know if we can call it a game, but something called Second Life
is gaining in popularity. What do you think of Second Life? Will it have any
impact on the video game industry? What do you think is the definition of
"Video Games" in the first place? Where will video games be heading in the
future? To understand your philosophy, I would like you to tell us your observations
on these points.
I personally have virtually no interest in Second Life. I don't think it
will be considered as an important existence in the future. That is all I
can say today. If I need to supplement my remarks, modern human beings have
less and less time and energy to spend on any activity. A great many things
are changing with incredible speed. The energy one can spend on any entertainment
has never been very big in the first place.
With this background, I would define a video game as something to which
a human being makes an input and from which the human being receives something
more valuable than the labor needed to make the input. Maybe it is more of
the definition of interactive entertainment than of video game.
You touch something and, as the result, you receive something back. That
something is more beneficial than what you originally did to get that result.
In such a circumstance, people feel like continuing their efforts, without
stopping them, I believe. If you receive a smaller reward than the energy
you have spent, a lot of you won't feel like continuing. The reward varies
depending on the software.
We have very unusual software for DS, which tells you how to make a dish.
I myself love to use this cooking software and I myself am now cooking at
our home on my days off. There are no rewards in this game. But it will let
you cook real dishes, and you will enjoy eating the results. That is the reward
in this case. So, because I received the reward as the result of my efforts,
I have not gotten tired of this software by now. Ever since I touched this
when it was still a prototype and I gave the developers my advice, I have
been touching this software from time to time. I think it important for us
to create this type of software that will keep the owners' interests for a
long time period without letting them stop using it.
There are different types of people. Some of us want to spend a lot of
energy in a short time period and look for rather complicated play natures.
Some of us just don't have time and want to have quick fun in a short time.
So, there are different types of ways to let the users feel they have received
their due rewards. But rewards must be there if it is being called a game,