The untold story behind the Nintendo Wii launch in America

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Reggie Fils-Aimé’s new book is out this week. Fils-Aimé speaks Disrupt the game* also about his time at Nintendo, of course. A very interesting passage is about the launch of the Nintendo Wii and a feud with the esteemed Satoru Iwata and the genius Shigeru Miyamoto. The Washington Post published the book excerpt

Fils-Aimé quickly agreed with Satoru Iwata that the market introduction should take place in America first. This strategy would have worked with the Nintendo DS, and Black Friday was an important business factor that Japan and Europe did not have. Nintendo of America should therefore also receive the largest number of Wii units.

They also agreed that something “magic” had been created with Wii Sports. But certainly not about the form of distribution. “I was in favor of Wii Sports [zum Launch] to Wii so that every consumer can access this great content. After I made this suggestion, Mr. Iwata paused long enough to notice the faint hum of the light bulb in his office and feel uneasy,” writes Fils-Aimé.

Apparently the Japanese saw it differently. “Reggie,” Iwata replied, “Nintendo isn’t giving away valuable content. We work hard to create special experiences. It’s the unique software that drives consumers to buy our hardware. And we expect to keep these games for a longer period of time.” can sell. No, we shouldn’t include Wii Sports,” he said.

However, Fils-Aimé saw a different concept in the Wii, focusing on the “unique gameplay” according to Fils-Aimé. “The aim of the Wii is to take gaming out of its current niche and into a mainstream medium. Wii Sports has what it takes to achieve that,” says Fils-Aimé.

“Wii Sports can be a unifying element for all players on the system and encourage people to buy the system and have fun right away,” said the president of Nintendo of America, who also added that Nintendo was also involved in the Bundled. games from the past. with console launches.

It was an issue that dragged on for months, writes Reggie Fils-Aimé. After convincing Iwata, Shigeru Miyamoto had to do the same. Then, during a visit to Japan in July 2006, the Japanese surfaced an early version of Wii Play, which they presented as a launch bundle game rather than Wii Sports.

Fils-Aimé was not satisfied. “They were the equivalent of cotton candy — a short treat but not very filling,” he wrote of the suggestion in his book. Instead, Fils-Aimé suggested selling Wii Play with the Wii Remote. Now he had to convince Miyamoto of two bundles.

“Mr. Miyamoto’s ever-present smiles and mischievous squints were gone,” writes Fils-Aimé, who then goes on to quote Miyamoto’s response: “None of you understand the challenge of making software that people love to play. This is something we constantly struggling with it. We don’t give our software away.”

Already convinced, Iwata managed to get Miyamoto on board and explain the market conditions. Not at the July 2006 meeting, and not among the “many others that followed.” But in the end it worked.

The success story of the Nintendo Wii is now history. And Wii Sports may have played a big part in that. One would like to look into a parallel universe in which the bundle would not have existed. Would the Wii have gotten off the ground like this?

Images: Upsetting the Game, Reggie Fils-Aimé, ‎ HarperCollins Leadership

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I am the Editor for Gaming Ideology. I love to play DOTA and many other games. I love to write about games and make others love gaming as much as I do.

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