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Nintendo's Walter: NPD To See 'Really Good News' For Nintendo

Talking to Gamasutra, Nintendo PR manager Eric Walter has been discussing the host of announcements debuted earlier this week at E3, suggesting that today's NPD sales results will s
Talking to Gamasutra, Nintendo PR manager Eric Walter has been discussing the host of announcements debuted earlier this week at E3, suggesting that today's NPD sales results will show the company reaching "worldwide sales numbers that will equal some of the other console makers out there". Walter's hinting on the NPD sales numbers for game hardware and software in June 2008 came as part of a longer Gamasutra interview about the company's major announcements, printed in full here. Q: I'd like to talk about the announcement of the Wii Sports Resort which includes the Wii Motion Plus. I think it's a bit of a surprise to people to see that Nintendo is willing to going that route - adding to the Wii Remote. What was the thinking behind that peripheral? A: Really, our thought process behind that was really to take the Wii Remote to a whole new level and our game dynamic to a whole new level. As we did with the Wii Remote, originally. That completely changed the game dynamic of how you actually play a video game. Now with Wii Motion Plus, it's taking it to the next level. It's truly a 1:1 reaction with your remote. It's incredible the way you slightly move your hand and it completely changes on-screen. It's really almost 3D, if you will. It really enhances the gameplay. Q: But aren't you worried about splintering the audience, to an extent? A: I really don't think so, to be honest. Obviously, it's new, so a lot of folks haven't had their hands on it. A lot of folks are getting their hands on it here, this week. From what we've heard so far, people love it. They really think it changes the way the Wii Remote functions and adds a new dynamic to it. Q: Now, there's one going to be packed in with Wii Sports Resort. Has there been a price point announced just yet? A: There hasn't been a price point announced just yet. It will be sold separately as well. Q: Wii Sports is best known as a game for more than one person. It's not played so much, at least in my experience, in a single-player context - how about Wii Sports Resort? A: In this version, actually, there are single-player games. There is Power Cruising, a wave-riding game, and that's done single-player, and there's Disc Dog, where you're throwing a disc to a dog, and that's single-player as well. But there is going to be, as there is with the last Wii Sports, two-player options as well. Sword Play is one of the options in Wii Sports Resort and certainly that's a two-player version. You can play one-player on that but it's just as fun to play two-players as well. Q: I guess, when it comes down to it, people who buy Wii Sports Resort, there may be an expectation to go buy another Wii Motion Plus, so their friends or family can enjoy the game. You will get a lot of these into homes by packing it in. However, developers may not want to support it unless they can see it has a high penetration. That could be a problem. A: Just as with the Wii Balance Board last year at E3, we announced that for Wii Fit, of course. Instantly third-party guys were "Let's take a look at that, what can we do with that?" Certainly it took a few months for people to really incorporate the Balance Board into their games solely from the ground up. I think that's going to be the same that we see with Wii Motion Plus. Right now we're showing it with Wii Sports Resort. I think this time next year you'll see a lot of the third parties probably getting behind it and building games for it from the ground up. Really the way we like to think about it is [for developers to] use what makes sense to you, to create a game that you think is the best use of your tools. Certainly not all games are going to use the Wii Motion Plus. The ones that do, it will add something special to it. Q: I've been talking a little bit to some of the enthusiast press members, and certainly I think the expectation is that there was going to be more core gamer stuff coming out of E3. A: I think that what you're seeing here at E3 is a very small subset of the games that we have. I think another thing we're doing well is we're changing what a core game is. I know that a lot of core gamers loved Wii Fit. I think it initially probably wasn't a game that a lot of folks were thinking was going to be a core game. To me a core gamer is someone who spends hours playing video games. Certainly I think Nintendo has done a great job of expanding that audience and making people play video games at a higher level. I'm not sure that I would say that we don't have something for the core audience. Certainly the third parties are getting behind us for the core audience. Grand Theft Auto for DS - I think that's going to be huge. You'll definitely see people gravitating towards that. We've got Call of Duty, so I think both on a third-party and first-party front there's definitely some core titles. We just announced [Super Mario] Sluggers, I think that's certainly going to appeal to the core audience. We had Super Smash Bros recently as well. I think there are still core games out there for folks. [This interview occurred before Shigeru Miyamoto verbally confirmed a new Pikmin title at the Nintendo developer Q&A.] Q: One criticism that I've heard, and this came from Aaron Greenberg at Microsoft. He characterized the Wii as a system where they buy the Wii, play Wii Sports for a while, and then put the Wii in the closet, and then drag it back out again - more like a toy, or a board game experience than a video game experience, and they may not stick with it. What do you think about that? A: I think sales and consumer response would dictate otherwise. Certainly the Wii console, we're on pace to sell 25 million worldwide this fiscal year, we're now doing 2.4 million a month. When they hit store shelves they're usually gone right away. Certainly folks don't see it as something you just play once and that's it. I think it's changing the way video games are played and the way people are thinking about video games. I would probably think that's not the response that we're seeing from consumers. Q: But what about software attach rate and response to third party games from consumers? A: Again, I think you see with the Wii Balance Board, for example. Folks got behind that pretty quickly on the third party front - so certainly I think that speaks to the fact that third parties see value in the Wii. The June NPD numbers are coming out [today]. I think we'll see there some really good news as far as Nintendo is concerned. I think that that point we'll be getting up into the worldwide sales numbers that will equal some of the other console makers out there. I think then people will start to get a better sense of what's possible with the Wii. You think about it, we're what, 19 months in now? The demand has been unprecedented and it's certainly changed the way people think about games - and I think the sales numbers have said that as well.

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