Iwata on Wii U launch strategy, new IP, tablet and smartphone impact

During the Q&A following Nintendo's latest earnings presentation, president Satoru Iwata addressed several topics, including Wii U marketing strategy, the difficulty of selling games based on new IP and the impact of smartphones and tablets on the video game industry. Concerning the Wii U, Iwata noted that one of Nintendo's mistakes in previous launches was releasing too many games alongside new hardware.

"Nintendo tends to release too many titles at the launch of a hardware system and as a result suffers a drop in new games for quite some time after launch, and for the Wii U launch, we are being very careful not to let it happen," said Iwata. Furthermore, a hefty third-party lineup has enabled Nintendo to delay the release of certain games until next year, though they were originally planned to launch with the Wii U.

One questioner pointed out that Nintendo's sales seem to be dominated by well-known franchises such as Mario and Pokemon, while new IPs "seem to have little presence." Iwata acknowledged that consumers tend to stick to established brands, but noted that digital sales have the potential to help move new IPs. He cited Art Academy as an example, noting that it began life as a digital product on DSiWare. Art Academy was well-received and "we therefore recreated it as packaged software and it eventually became a million-unit selling title worldwide." Iwata said he'd like to see more "positive outcomes" arise from similar strategies.

Finally, Iwata addressed the ever-present question of portable devices and their impact on Nintendo's business. Firstly, Iwata noted that devices like tablets and smartphones should not be inherently tied with games. For example, he said, customers might discover and watch a Nintendo Direct presentation via their smartphone, creating an interest in the company's products. Still, many have predicted that smartphones and tablets will eventually obviate the need for dedicated gaming hardware, especially with the copious amount of free and cheap games available.

To this, Iwata repeated his (now standard) argument that Nintendo's games are of a higher quality. "We believe that neither Nintendo nor dedicated gaming systems are worthy of existence unless our games give consumers unparalleled fun, which games for free or for 85 yen do not supply." Outsiders predicting the death of dedicated gaming devices is nothing new, according to Iwata, remembering that some even said internet enabled cell phones "would eventually eliminate handheld gaming devices" in Japan.

"We were asked about this matter many times and answered that we would try something that cannot be done on cell phones," he said, which led to the creation of the incredibly successful Nintendo DS. Iwata even went so far as to say that the DS "was able to demonstrate the new potential of touch screens" and actually inspired the creation of smartphones and tablets. "I really feel that history is repeating itself," he added, concluding that Nintendo's goal is "to offer consumers gaming experiences which smart devices cannot realize and to actively try to make smart devices our allies, not our enemies."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.