As it seems to do these days, discussion with Nintendo of America's president turned to the possibility of a new Wii capable of rendering high-definition graphics. It's a common question, but one that Kotaku was told, misses something.
During my recent interview with Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's president, we got to talking about a so-called Wii HD by way of talking about his appearance last week at an event featuring presentations by top executives of gaming companies. Top men from Activision and Ubisoft showed trailers for the complexly-rendered Modern Warfare 2 and Assassin's Creed. Neither game is slated to be released on the Wii, coming out only on more powerful platforms, such as the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.
I asked Fils-Aime what he, as someone who wants his console to do the best, thought of that.
"I'm extremely disappointed," he said. "I've had this conversation with every publisher who makes content that is not available on my platform. The conversation goes like this: 'We have a 22-million unit installed base. We have a very diverse audience… We have active gamers that hunger for this type of content. And why isn't it available?'"
I told him that I assumed that technology was still a formidable obstacle. While Nintendo boasts that Resident Evil 4 and Call of Duty World at War each sold well over a million copies on the Wii, it seemed to me that more recent games, such as a Grand Theft Auto IV or an Assassin's Creed 2 just wouldn't be able to function on the console, given its level of horsepower.
"I think for those games, typically decisions are being made two years prior," Fils-Aime said. "And so the decisions two years ago were that those types of games would not be effective on the platform. But we've shown that that's just not the case. High-quality, effectively marketed against our installed base will sell, period end of story."
It seemed, I suggested, that a more powerful Wii would help.
I observed that even Nintendo's engineers and execs were discussing the prospects of the company getting into the business of making an HD-compatible console at a recent investors' event in Japan. And I mentioned that people like games financial analyst Michael Pachter and Game Trailers TV host Geoff Keighley had openly speculated that building a more powerful Wii that could do HD and the games that are made to that standard would seemingly check off the last box where Nintendo didn't have parity with the other console makers.
Fils-Aime and I weren't seeing things the same way.
He said: "The fundamental issue in the logic flow is that — and this is what I'm hearing, whether it's from you or Geoff or Michael himself — is that, gosh it's such an opportunity to take HD capability and link it with the Wii. And what we have said, repeatedly, is that that's not the way we at Nintendo do things. The way we at Nintendo do things is, you know, when we will move to a new generation, it's because there are some fundamental things the [current] console cannot do. What that says is that simply the addition of HD capability will not be the next step for us. There will be more to it. There will be additional capability. There will be additional elements, and, given that, it is far into the future."
In jest, I replied: "So, no new Wii in 2010?"
Fils-Aime: "Not to announce with you here today."