The Techland Interview: Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime

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Do you think that factors like the economy have something to do with that?

Of course they do. Some consumers spend more because they believe they’re going to get more.

Let’s talk about content a little bit. Other M was probably the most surprising and exciting thing Nintendo announced at E3 last year, with the reveal that Team Ninja would be co-developing. You guys have handed Samus off to others before, but what was the thinking here? Arguably, nothing was broken with Metroid…

We don’t necessarily view this as a third-party development deal. Maybe it’s some hybrid of first- and second-party, as Sakamoto-san is heavily involved. What Sakamoto-san and Nintendo wanted was a different take. It was serendipity that the people at Team Ninja were already taking with Sakamoto and they had a mind-meld. I wouldn’t say that the game wasn’t anything that our first-party teams couldn’t do, but it was more of a desire to work with Team Ninja.

Would you say that Nintendo is as open to partnerships with regard to some of its other characters? People tend to view the company as one that holds its IP very close to its vest.

We do hold them close to the vest. Yet, we have done so. Square’s done games that have used Mario and other iconic Nintendo characters and obviously we did the deal with Sega for the Mario & Sonic Olympic Games titles. But, we believe that in order for those things to happen, that the person we’re going to partner with need to view things very similar to the way we do.

That leads into this question: Team Ninja’s garnered a certain kind of fan base for delivering a certain kind of game. Has there been a creative clash while Other M’s been being built?

I’m not in that room everyday. But, Mr. Sakamoto did mention one moment of difference, which was Team Ninja wanting to make a game that involved the nunchuk. Our in-house developers at Nintendo tend to be very single-minded but what I’ve played so far feels like a true collaboration.

Some might say that Team Ninja’s sensibilities–they make games with beheadings and dismemberments–are egregious but you could argue that they’re part of the core DNA of how they make games. What do you say to the Team Ninja fan who’s expecting that in the new Metroid game?

I’d say that you’re getting a Metroid experience. Metroid is running and shooting and traversal and re-traversal. You won’t get a Ninja Gaiden experience. That’s something else. What you will get is something that is new and unique in the Metroid lineage that I think, based on my own hands-on experience, is phenomenal.

Finally, there’s been a constant pressure for Nintendo to announce something with regard to the next iteration of hardware. People have been calling for a WiiHD for the last two years or so. I’m not going to ask you if or when that’s coming, but I will ask you where do you think that pressure comes from?

There is a legacy of bringing hardware new hardware systems roughly every five years. So, if that was going to happen again, the announcements would need to happen around now. Also, we have two competitors who’d love to have a shot at re-defining the next generation. At 60 million sold, the Wii’s leading this generation and that was not at all expected, either by our hardware competitors or by most software developers. So, there’s a desire to hit the reset button and try it again. Thirdly, from a publisher perspective, there’s a recognition that the three different consoles are each very different to create content for and they’d probably like to see things get a little bit closer. I think that’s what generates all of the talk of what comes next and of a WiiHD. As for our perspective, When Mr. Miyamoto says, “I have this idea and I can’t do it on the current system,” that’s when the next one starts to take shape. And not before.

You’re saying Miyamoto-san and everybody at Nintendo development feel like they haven’t hit the limits of the hardware?


What’s it going to take to hit the limits?

I’m fortunate enough to know what’s coming and let’s just say we’re not there yet.

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