Another old-days claim that rings truer in the Wii/DS era is Nintendo's professed dedication to online. Fils-Aime pointed out that, when asked when Nintendo might get serious about it, he could simply say that perhaps they already have. He pointed to 5.5 million people hooking up to online service the Wi-Fi Connection as proof, with 230 million total gameplay sessions, 5.6 million downloads from Virtual Console, and Wii Software (WiiWare in the US) downloadable games on the horizon for 2008. Pokémon and Mario Strikers already offer internet multiplay through Wii, while the DS is swimming in WFC titles, and Madden and FIFA will give sports fans an online workout later this year too.
Fils-Aime also introduced a new Wii Channel - "Check Mii Out" (working title) - where you can exercise your love for those cute little Miis by voting on the quality of other people's, searching popular ones, and taking part in competitions to design ones that look like celebrities, among other things. It's set to launch this year.
Both Fils-Aime and Iwata fully believe that Nintendo can win this generation on every front. In terms of expanding the market, Fils-Aime said the proof was already there, with Nintendo gaining 3 percent more than the 6 percent industry average growth in the 18-24 demographic in recent years, with people over 25 accounting for a third of all revenues. "This is where potential lives," he said, flanked by images of old people giggling along to DS games. Brain Age had already sold 15 million units around the world; "but can this thing thing grow?" he asked himself. "We and other people think so." A vision training game (Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day) is already out in Japan, and will be out in the US on 15th October, and games from third parties like Ubisoft's My Word Coach and My Life Coach titles will feed into the expansion already evident, he said. As, it seems obvious, will the headline-grabbing Wii Fit.
Eventually Satoru Iwata, Nintendo president, took to the stage, and made a stark pledge that spoke more to gamers who grew up with the likes of Mario and Donkey Kong than the Johnny Come Latelies. "Today we are seeing it is not impossible to expand the gaming population. Our next immediate challenge is this: to destroy the psychological barrier that separates veteran gamers from novice gamers," he said, to nods all round. "We must accept that games are for everyone." The Zapper, Mario Kart's Wii Wheel and things like the Balance Board, whose functionality will doubtless lead to other balance-based games, are proof of this in his view.
But it was left to Reggie Fils-Aime to close out the conference, and he did so with a boldness that would have seemed absurd even two years ago. "This is Nintendo's moment to lead," he declared, but the company is "far from satisfied". "Our primary target is much wider. There are 24 hours in every day, and only a small amount of time is available for leisure entertainment. Minute by minute, we intend to steal more of that time for videogames."
"[Games] are the ultimate interactive experience. The future should belong to all of us. And when that day comes - that videogames are accepted as the pre-eminent form of leisure entertainment by the greatest number of people over the greatest part of the world, then we might also be happy."
"And we might also be satisfied."
US release dates of note in the press pack
- Battalion Wars (Wii) - 29th October
- Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day (DS) - 20th August
- Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol (DS) - 2nd October
- Contra 4 (DS) - Autumn
- DK Jungle Climber (DS) - 10th September
- Donkey Kong Barrel Blast (Wii) - 8th October
- Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker (DS) - November
- Endless Ocean (Wii) - 29th October
- Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (DS) - November
- Fire Emblem (Wii) - 5th November
- Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day (DS) - 15th October
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS) - 1st October
- Mario Kart Wii (working title, Wii) - "Early 2008"
- Mario Party DS (DS) - 19th November
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) - 27th August
- NiGHTS: Journey into Dreams (Wii) - Autumn
- Nintendo Crossword (DS) - TBA
- Nintendo Magic (working title, DS) - 26th November
- Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations (DS) - September
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) - 3rd December
- Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (Wii) - Autumn
- Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles (Wii) - November
- Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) - 12th November
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) - 3rd December
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary (Wii) - November
- Wii Fit (Wii) - TBA
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