Nintendo recently held its 75th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, which involved Nintendo President Satoru Iwata fielding questions from investors about the company’s plans and strategies for the upcoming year. The full transcript of the Q&A can be found here. Among questions about Pokémon, T-shirts and the Seattle Mariners, there were a few interesting tidbits of information.
NX will not be another Wii U
Mr. Iwata was understandably tight-lipped about Nintendo’s upcoming console. Giving out too many details, he explained, would spoil the surprise, as well as allowing the company’s competitors to snatch some of the ideas that NX will put to use. However, he reiterated that a formal announcement will be made in 2016, and that the initial reveal earlier this year was done to squash the growing scuttlebutt that Nintendo would abandon console development altogether, which Iwata insisted is absolutely not the case.
In answering this question, Mr. Iwata also admitted that the launch of the Wii U was… less than successful, though he assured the shareholders that the launch of NX will not see a repeat of the same mistakes Nintendo made with its current console. The next console, he stated, will be made available “through a Nintendo-like solution.”
Even though the Wii U was a far cry from the roaring success of its predecessor, Mr. Iwata expressed that Wii U and 3DS owners will not be left high and dry, as the company is currently making plans, both internally and with third-party developers, about how to put out a steady flow of games for the current systems even after the launch of the NX. He went so far as to stress that Nintendo is making the most of the Wii U for consumers, calling it a “priority within the company.”
The new loyalty program will be a big upgrade
As many of you are probably well aware, Nintendo just recently shut down its long-running loyalty program, Club Nintendo. This service allowed players to register their Nintendo hardware and software to an online account, for which they would then receive coins that could be spent on rewards ranging from downloadable games to exclusive Nintendo merchandise and memorabilia.
When Club Nintendo closed its doors, Nintendo made it clear that it would be replaced by something even better. Interestingly enough, we got out first details about the new program when Mr. Iwata was asked about the price gap between digital and physical versions of games. The answer involved talk of how physical copies were more likely to be discounted or put on sale than their digital brethren, and it also involved a mention that the new loyalty program could include a feature to give specific discounts and deals to each individual member.
To put it another way, Mr. Iwata seems to be suggesting that Club Nintendo’s successor could include special offers unique to each member, probably based on their buying history. This definitely sounds like a tantalizing possibility on paper, and would easily push the program above and beyond what Club Nintendo offered. The still-unnamed new loyalty program is expected to launch this autumn.
Nintendo is open to collaborations
Several questions in the session centered around Nintendo’s relationship with outside developers and the Wii U’s current lack of third-party support. Mr. Iwata responded by stating that Nintendo received several proposals for collaborative projects, though he wasn’t exactly clear if this meant other companies making games about Nintendo characters, like Hyrule Warriors, or actual crossover projects akin to Skylanders: SuperChargers. It certainly seems like both are a very real possibility. Mr. Iwata made reference to “collaborations with software publishers or their games” in confirming that there are multiple such projects currently in the works.
On a different note, there were two questions about Nintendo’s plans to put out more merchandise featuring its characters. While understanding that there would be high demand for things like shirts and shoes featuring Nintendo mascots, Mr. Iwata was firm that Nintendo has to be protective of its IPs. The company realizes what fans want, though, and it is actively working to be more proactive in such endeavors, which could also include movies and TV shows as well. He urged everyone to remain patient as Nintendo explores these possibilities, both in Japan and internationally.
Microtransactions are a double-edged sword
Nintendo is finally taking the step many major game companies have already taken by developing apps for smartphones and tablets, starting with Pokémon Shuffle Mobile later this year. When asked about how such games would be priced, whether as a one-time payment or as a series of small payments within the game (a.k.a. “microtransactions”), Mr. Iwata made his stance on the matter very clear.
Firstly, he acknowledged that apps with one-time payments don’t fare all that well on the mobile marketplace. It just doesn’t fit the business model. He then touched on how in Japan, many mobile apps have a relatively small audience, but these players sink a lot of money into them, and a good profit is made. However, this model is not practical for other parts of the world and is not Nintendo’s goal. According to Mr. Iwata, the ideal system would be one that reaches a large number of players and asks only for very small payments from them.
The concept of microtransactions, of course, is not a new one in mobile gaming, and the term often comes with a stigma attached to it. This has not gone unnoticed, and Mr. Iwata reassured the shareholders that Nintendo is well aware that this practice could backfire and will not do anything without due diligence. Nintendo’s philosophy for mobile gaming also looks to foster longevity, and it is “not planning to release many game applications from this year to the next,” instead making sure that each app it does produce will be successful for a long while.Leave a Comment