Nintendo Dissatisfied With Sales Of Some Games, Dates Vitality Sensor Showcase

Illustration for article titled Nintendo Dissatisfied With Sales Of Some Games, Dates Vitality Sensor Showcase

During my recent conversation with Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, I asked for updates on Nintendo's MotionPlus and Vitality Sensor technologies, but before that we wound up talking about a common Nintendo fan complaint.

Fils-Aime and I had been discussing the shorter hype cycles Nintendo has been using for games such as The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. The Nintendo executive told me he hasn't seen Nintendo's short hype cycles hurting sales of the company's games, noting that Wii Sports Resort sold almost two million copies since its July launch despite the company keeping quiet about most of the game's details until the month before its launch. (The game had been shown a year before, but few details had been offered in the intervening 12 months.)


I mentioned to Fils-Aime that I've seen Kotaku readers lament that Nintendo's short promotional cycles might be hurting smaller Wii games. The short strategy seemed to not offer much of a boost for lower-profile titles, such as Metriod Prime Trilogy, Fire Emblem or Battalion Wars, which haven't sold close to the millions of a Wii Sports Resort. The complaint, I conveyed, was that Nintendo hadn't tried to push those games.

"I'm not satisfied with the volumes that we do on a Fire Emblem, for example, or a Battalion Wars," Fils-Aime responded. "These are high-quality games that I have challenged the team to think about: How do we up our marketing on these types of titles to do a more effective job?

"And I think you are going to see that more with a title like [2010 Wii shooter] Sin & Punishment 2, where it is much more targeted to the active gamer. It is a title that I believe we need to do a better job getting out in front of." (That's Sin & Punishment 2 pictured atop this post.)

Fils-Aime cited the company's new Nintendo Week 12-minute weekly video shows as one way to get more information out.


Curious about other things Nintendo has been quiet about, I asked for an update on the MotionPlus add-on which launched in June, enjoyed some third-party support then but has only had one Nintendo-made game, July's Wii Sports Resort, released for it since then. I asked: Is this the roll-out you guys planned?

"Our hope was that Red Steel 2 would have launched in this holiday season," Fils-Aime said, referring to Ubisoft's now-2010 first-person shooter/swordplay game. "That's a title that we had always looked at to be a key part of the strategy to drive the installed base of Wii MotionPlus. Having said that, even without the benefit of that launch, we've sold over four million at this point in time. That's a very strong start."


Fils-Aime confirmed that Nintendo is developing games that use MotionPlus, but did not detail them.

And what of Nintendo's next major add-on, the Vitality Sensor? The device, which reads biometric data from a person's finger, debuted at E3 in June, but Nintendo has yet to explain the kinds of games or software the company will release with it.


No news on that yet, Fils-Aime said, offering only "E3 2010" as a timeframe for more. "We will show off the Vitality Sensor with software [at the show]."

I asked: Would that include games?

"I'm not going to give you any more hints beyond that."

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They should take a look at what Masahiro Sakurai did. Hey, guys. Remember Sakurai? Yeah, the guy that made the Super Smash Bros series? Yeah, that one.

Anyway, Sakurai wrote a daily blog about news and tidbits concerning Super Smash Bros Brawl, and he wrote in it steadily, daily, months and months before the game's release.

Usually it was just very little bits of info about the game, such as new weapons, but the daily info on it made fans hang on to every little update concerning the game. Gaming sites like IGN and Kotaku, in consequence, were always posting new stuff about this game.

And big news like Sonic's official confirmation as a playable character in the upcoming game were like the second coming of Christ. The media exploded.

Now THAT's a hype machine, the way the Smash Bros site worked on the months before the game's release.

And look at what happened to the sales. It became the fastest selling game on NOA's history, and to the day it's sold already about 8.5 million copies. Of course, this game had the reputation of previous games on it's shoulders (Melee, and the N64 game before that), but still, this hype scheme sure made a strong impact.

My point here: yeah, sure that games like Sin & Punishment 2 or Red Steel 2 don't really have a chance to have a success comparable to that of Smash Bros Brawl, but clearly hyping a game correctly will help on it's sales. It's not rocket science.

In this era, where most of the most "dedicated" gamers gather their news on the internet, I think it's becoming less and less necessary to spend ridiculous amounts on marketing to hype a game properly. Yeah, some years ago, Halo 3's marketing was ridiculous, but look at what happened with Modern Warfare 2. It's hype was based on word-of -mouth and in media's coverage about this game, not in ridiculous and ultra-expensive TV ads, nor giant 10-stories-tall billboards a-la GTA4.

So, Nintendo, open up your PR resources, hype a bit more the games that comes for your console. Sure, you could argue that third party games aren't your problem, but if you don't give them a bit of help, third party games won't sell, and third party developers will abandon you in the end. So, let's start hyping things up.