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The holiday season is among us, and with all three next-gen (well, now current-gen!) consoles out on the market, they are each going to be competing for the hearts, minds, and cash of consumers. Where is the Wii U’s place in all of this? Forbes writer David M. Ewalt recently conducted an interview with Reggie regarding the state of the Wii U, what Nintendo aims to do this holiday season, and much more. It’s a long interview, so buckle up and hit the jump for the full scoop!

The interview begins with Reggie discussing Nintendo’s holiday pitch. Even though the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are newer to the market and have more powerful hardware, Reggie argues that Nintendo’s core franchises and the Wii U game lineup will keep the Wii U competitive. When asked about the company’s chances to compete this holiday season, Reggie stated:

“We rate our chances very good. Software drives hardware in this business. We see it time and time again. We saw it with our Wii and DS businesses. We’re seeing it right now with Nintendo 3DS. It was probably a year ago, I was having similar meetings to these, when the challenge was, “Reggie, what are you doing with your handheld business? How are you gonna grow it?” Well, we bring our great franchises to bear, and watch what happens. Software drives hardware. And we’re having a stellar year. We believe the same will happen with our Wii U business, with these fantastic franchises that we’re bringing to bear this holiday.”

Mr. Ewalt agreed with Reggie’s statement, but also argued that customers are attracted to the latest, “shiny new objects.” Reggie responded:

“That’s very true. But the interesting thing there is, if you look at the last two hardware cycles, it was not the most powerful machine that won, not in the case of the PS2, not in the case of the Wii. So, in the end, it’s our responsibility to show consumers how much fun you can have, because in the end, this is an entertainment business, and we think we’ve got stellar entertainment to make the consumer smile.”

Ewalt then addressed that Nintendo faces a marketing challenge. He argues that the two new consoles are likely to gain a ton of spotlight, leaving the Wii U in the back of consumer’s minds. Reggie spoke a bit about Nintendo’s marketing strategy for the Wii U:

“So that’s where we’re taking our message right to the consumer. To be clear, we’re getting fantastic retailer support, whether it’s GameStop, whether it’s WalMart, whether it’s ToysRUs, Best Buy, Target… all of the key retailers are giving us exceptional support. But in the end, we know we’ve got to take our message right to the consumer. We’re doing that with sampling events. We’re doing more hand held sampling events this year than we’ve done in the past. We’re doing it with our overall marketing activity, and not just the traditional TV activity, but web activity, social media activity. And in the end we’ve got to show the fun that you can have with our devices. And we’re convinced if we do that we’ll generate the word of mouth, and we’ll generate the excitement that’ll drive us through the holiday.”

Reggie also addressed the issue of whether consumers fully understood that the Wii U was a brand new console:

“That issue has been largely addressed, I think, as we’ve told consumers all the great things you could do with the GamePad as we’ve showed fantastic software like Pikmin 3, and Wonderful 101, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker in HD. The consumer I believe now understands this is a brand new system with brand new capabilities. It has all of the benefits of backward compatibility. And we’re the only next gen system with backward compatibility, so the consumer has this great library of games from Wii, can use them with the Wii U. But now they understand all of the new capabilities that they can have.”

Interestingly enough, Mr. Ewalt brought Microsoft’s Xbox One into the discussion. Ewalt illustrated the Microsoft aims to market the Xbox One as a multimedia center, and asked for a comparable reason for why someone should by the Wii U. Basically, what is Nintendo’s pitch to consumers? Reggie elaborated on this notion:

“It’s all about these great franchises. This is the place to get Mario, to get Zelda, to get Donkey Kong. And, we’ve got fantastic entertainment experiences. You can watch Netflix in HD, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu Plus. It’s all there. But what we do on top of that is, we’ve got Nintendo TV, that lets you sort out and decide what it is that you want to watch based on all of the different services you subscribe to. So our pitch is we’ve got unique differentiators, versus the “I do everything” positioning that our competitors might have.”

Reggie was asked as to how Nintendo would help people in understanding the Wii U’s Nintendo TV capability, to which Reggie answered:

“I want to be clear that first and foremost we’ve gotta drive people into the proposition with the franchises and software we have. That’s the main differentiator. We believe once they have the system, or once they’re interested in the system, helping them understand the benefits of Nintendo TV is a nice supporting point. And as we’re out in malls and other places having consumers get hands-on experiences, we’re gonna be showcasing those capabilities. But first and foremost it’s about the games. That’s our proposition.”

Mr. Ewalt then went on to discuss Nintendo’s strengths; their huge franchises like Mario generally help to push the sales of the company’s hardware. However, he points out this is also a potential weakness, and asked if Nintendo feels like they have to push out a major franchise in order to move consoles. Reggie quickly struck back, and hammered home how different the Wii U is from its competitors:

“It’s tough to call a 10 million franchise a weakness. It’s something consumers have come to expect, have come to desire. It is an ace in our hand that we love to play. And it’s a differentiator. The point that I keep coming back to is show me the differentiated experiences. And differentiated experiences in this entertainment business win. We’re differentiated with the GamePad. We’re differentiated with these fantastic franchises. We’re differentiated even in the entertainment space with Nintendo TV. We believe those will drive our performance now and into the future.”

Reggie then went on to discuss how the Wii U’s cheaper price of all next gen consoles at $299.99 acts as a selling point:

“We think it’s certainly a consideration. As I look back on the effectiveness of the Wii, our value equation was stellar. Now the Wii U, the value equation here is also stellar. Depending on the bundle you choose, typically two games included in the bundle, games that highlight the GamePad, free services like Nintendo TV, like Miiverse, it’s a differentiated proposition. And when you look at the cost of entry into our platform, it’s a tremendous value versus our competition.”

Reggie was asked about the development landscape for the Wii. Mr. Ewalt stated somewhat bluntly that he believed that there were more indie games on Xbox Live and Playstation Network than on Nintendo’s consoles. Reggie retorted, challenging Ewalt’s statement:

“I would challenge that statement. And in fairness I haven’t counted them up, but I know this: If we fire up a Nintendo 3DS or a Nintendo 2DS and go into the e-shop, our merchandising shelves are full. And there’s a tremendous amount of independent developer content on that system, and the same with Wii U.

I think what the development community is really excited about is the discoverability that we offer with our merchandising platform, and with the fact that our games are there, available on the e-shop right along side theirs.”

Reggie then addressed a question on whether there had been any changes in Nintendo’s relationship with large publishers since the Wii U’s release last year, and on how Nintendo can motivate those publishers to put their games on the Wii U:

“It’s all about driving the installed base. With a healthy and vibrant installed base, those key publishers are gonna create content that are going to be wonderful for the system. Case in point: Activision. One of the number one rated games [recently] on the Wii U is Skylander SWAP Force. They’ve done a stellar job creating that content. And absolutely we look forward to Call of Duty coming on the platform. A true Call of Duty experience, leveraging unique play with the GamePad. You look at someone like Ubisoft. They do tremendous business with Just Dance on our platform. And we look forward to Assassin’s Creed, we look forward to Watchdogs next year coming on the platform. Warner Brothers… I could go through the list in terms of key software publishers that are making great content for the platform. And what they tell me every day is, “Reggie, how can I help you drive your installed base?”

He then responded when asked on whether he was worried if developers thought that because the hardware of the Wii U wasn’t as powerful as its competitors, that the console would lose the support of third party developers. Reggie argued that developers want a healthy ecosystem for which to create content for, rather than raw hardware specifications:

“In the end, what developers want is a healthy ecosystem to create content and launch it into. And that’s what we’ve gotta deliver. And we’re fortunate we’re delivering that right now with Nintendo 3DS, which is why we have so many publishers excited about that platform. We need to do that now with Wii U. And it’s gonna be key franchises like Mario 3D World, like Zelda: Wind Waker that are gonna help us drive that during this holiday time.”

Finally, in closing the interview, Reggie was asked about whether there would be possible shortages of the Wii U come Christmas. Reggie replied:

“There better not be. [Laughter] It’s one of these things where the production pipelines are long. And we do our best effort to minimize any stock outages. But in the end if there’s a mad consumer rush for a Nintendo 2DS, if there’s a mad consumer rush for Wii U, we’ll have to deal with that accordingly. But as I sit here today we should be in great shape.”

So there’s the interview and some insight into Nintendo’s plans for the holiday season. Do you agree with Nintendo’s assessment of the Wii U? Do you think the console will do well? Why or why not? Feel free to leave a comment below about your thoughts and opinions!

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Source: Forbes
Via: Go Nintendo
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