Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime Talks Zelda, the Future of Handhelds and Wii’s Big Holiday Push

How Nintendo is looking to finish the holiday season strong before the Wii U premieres next year.

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Are you still promoting the DS?

We think the DS is going to sell well this holiday season. It’s going to appeal to a different consumer. You can buy a DS Lite for $99. For a parent with a 5 or 6 year-old, maybe that’s the first handheld you buy them. It’s got a fantastic library of games—Super Mario Bros DS, Mario Kart DS—I think over 1,400 games. I think it’s a different kind of consumer than those who really want to experience the 3D of the 3DS.

What does this portend for the future of handheld gaming, specifically the idea that its future is in smartphones?

It reinforces the idea that in this business, great, compelling software drives hardware. As long as we continue to make great content, we’ll continute to have very strong performing handhelds. The second idea that it reinforces is that by really understanding our handhelds, we’re able to create games like Super Mario 3D Land, which really takes advantage of everything the technology has to offer.

So for us, we think what we’re seeing with 3DS and Super Mario 3D Land is a validation of our strategy, which says “We’re going to make great content, we’re going to make it uniquely for our platform” and through that combination we’re going to drive the install base and compel consumers to make room in their pocketbooks for this dedicated technology.

Is the fact that the Wii U is going to be backwards compatible going to help Wii game sales today?

The consumer buying Wii hardware today is going to be a different consumer than the one who will be buying Wii U in the future. This is the first holiday that the Wii is available at $149.99 or below, so its an expanded demographic we’re reaching. These are consumers who have heard about Wii for the past couple years, but at $199 or $249 it was economically out of their reach.

We haven’t announced pricing for Wii U, but you can definitely expect that pricing is going to be different and that the games are going to be different. We do believe that Wii and Wii U will coexist for some time. As we drive the install base of Wii, we’re really setting people up to take their gaming library and be able to transfer it over to Wii U.

Are you still promoting DS games over the holiday season?

As we introduce new platforms, we don’t forget about the legacy platforms, so DS is going to be very important over this holiday season and through 2012. We’re going to continute releasing games for those platforms and licensees will also continue releasing games for those platforms for as long as consumers tell us it’s a viable option for them. We really look to the consumer to tell us when it’s a good time for us to fully transition to the new platform.

(MORE: 10 Ways to Make Skyrim a Cooler Place to Hang Out)

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