Many acknowledge that Nintendo has been slow to embrace online gaming. It wasn’t until Mario Kart DS with Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection that the Big N tried its hand at multiplayer over the internet, and even then things were pretty limited. Nintendo has provided more functionality since then, though you could still argue that it’s behind the competition.
During an episode of GeekWire Podcast promoting your New book, former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime was asked if he has any regrets or learned any lessons when it came to the company not pursuing online multiplayer more aggressively. An interesting side note is that this was apparently “an area where America and Europe were constantly trying to educate the company in Japan about the value of online gaming, investing in the online infrastructure that was needed to make the experience an experience.” a positive one.”
Below are Reggie’s full comments:
“So I’m going to answer the question from two points of view. First of all, Nintendo’s business philosophy has always been to do things differently, to innovate in ways that play to the strength of the company rather than playing to the strength of others. And so, for example, when it comes to multiplayer, Nintendo really excelled at what we internally call ‘couch play’: sitting next to someone who plays Mario Kart, sitting next to someone who plays a variety of different games like Wii Sports. That in-person multiplayer really was a place where the company excelled, and that’s where it put an enormous amount of focus.
To do online multiplayer, the company really needed to think about what is the new type of game, what are the different types of experiences that we will need to create in order to now excel at that form of game. And honestly, it took the company a while to think it through, to come up with something that they believed would be fundamentally different and add value in a new way. I’d say the core success of the company started when they took Smash Bros., a key franchise for them, and brought it online, which worked exceptionally well. That spawned a first-person shooter, something of a first-person/third-person experience, with a franchise called Splatoon, which has done incredibly well in the marketplace. So that’s the first part of the answer: the company is always thinking about how to enter these markets in a unique way, differently, and build on its own strengths.
The second thing I would highlight is, and this is where some of the cultural differences come into play. Culturally, the company didn’t see much of an opportunity online. It was an area where America and Europe were constantly trying to educate the company in Japan about the value of online gaming, investing in the online infrastructure that was needed to make the experience a positive one. You are absolutely correct that of the top three hardware competitors in the gaming space, this is where Microsoft invested so significantly and became their competitive advantage; it still is today, I would say, in terms of its connected game. It was an area of constant push by the western parts of the company to encourage development and investment in infrastructure, and I’m sure that conversation continues today.”
Reggie has had a lot to say lately. In the last two weeks, he has talked about why do you think Nintendo has not presented a new F-ZeroAs the originally thought Metroid: Other M would be a “killer moment” for the serieshis hated by Donka Kongaand the fact that Mother 3 content is not the reason the game has not been localized.