Interview with Nintendo of Canada’s Matt Ryan: Holiday 2012

It’s been a while since we last caught up with Matt Ryan from Nintendo of Canada. However, the opportunity arose at the recent Nintendo Holiday 2012 event, and though our time was shorter than usual, I tried to get in as many questions as I could within the allotted span.

Now, without further ado:

Mario’s Hat: Can you use the Wii U Pro Controller for New Super Mario Bros. U? I know some people with larger hands have had complaints about being forced to use the Wii Remote* sideways in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Matt Ryan: Not that we’ve announced, or that they’ve told me. All we’ve announced so far are that the GamePad and Wii Remote are how you play New Super Mario Bros. U.

* Note that only one GamePad can be used on Wii U launch titles, so that only provides a solution if one plays in single-player mode.

As for the Pro Controller itself, will that be available at launch?

Yes, $44.99.

With the release of the Wii U Deluxe Set with Nintendo Land, will the package come with the game as pre-installed software, or in a physical format?

It’s a disc.

What about the newer Nintendo 3DS bundles that are coming out soon, such as with Super Mario 3D Land?

We’ve already done preloaded software digitally, even on the Nintendo DSi, so it’s definitely possible, but we haven’t made any announcements about that happening yet. It’s definitely possible, and it’s also possible with Wii U.

But for now, you’re sticking with the physical media?

For the Wii U launch and that set with Nintendo Land? Yes.

Next up: Nintendo TVii. I’ve seen the video for it, with the Amazon streaming, Hulu Plus, TiVo, and so on… what does Canada have to look forward with this, since we don’t have those services available to us here?

I’m glad you asked that question, so I can clarify. Canadians have a lot to look forward to for Nintendo TVii; for cable and satellite, we’re working with the content providers to make that possible. Your cable and satellite can be streamed through your Wii U, plus the system is in HD. It’s fantastic, and it’s also great for Netflix, which you can watch and control through your Wii U console and see in HD.

We are working on deals to make more content available, but just to confirm: Hulu Plus, Amazon, and TiVo are not offerings that are currently available in Canada, and therefore not available to Canadians through Wii U. You will not see them as options on your menu; you’ll only see what’s available, which is your cable, satellite streaming, and video-on-demand services like Netflix.

You mentioned TiVo, which is– as I understand it, not having used it myself– a DVR. Is there going to be a similar solution for that on the Wii U, or is that yet to be announced?

We have not announced anything else for Nintendo TVii in Canada, other than what I just told you. I now that the States is talking about DVR and TiVo, but we have no announcements to make yet about DVR functionality in Canada.

The other thing to keep in mind with Nintendo TVii is that your Wii U GamePad becomes your TV remote, and has the ability– you saw it in the video, the dial functionality, which is pretty awesome and I look forward to it– the Canadians will see that you can turn your TV on and off, and there’s other functionality that allows your Wii U GamePad to control your entertainment system.

(Aside: I completely missed an opportunity to ask if he would then call it a “Nintendo entertainment system.” Shame on me.)

Something we haven’t heard much about is Virtual Console. Is there anything you can tell me regarding that going forward on the Wii U? So far, things on that front have been largely silent.

Well, rest assured, your Virtual Console and WiiWare purchases can be moved over to the Wii U. Your Miis can even be moved over as well, which is done through the Wii Remote, which you’re probably already familiar with, on how to transfer Miis. Pretty much all that content that you’ve invested in on your Wii can be transferred over to your Wii U, from a Virtual Console, WiiWare, and Mii perspective.

Wii U will have Virtual Console, and that’s all we have to say about that.

Can you elaborate any on what Reggie has said about there being GameCube on Virtual Console?

Well, if you remember when we first announced Virtual Console, we committed and talked about GameCube games being available. It was in the gamut of all the other systems we said it supported, and that’s all I have to say about that right now.

I’m going to test my luck on that one, and I guess you can consider this an opinion question, but: How viable do you think it is, now that you’ve got more powerful hardware, to add something like SEGA Saturn games, in addition to their Genesis and other platform?

That I can’t comment on, because we haven’t made any announcements about it.

Something else I was wondering about is what Iwata said back around when the Wii was coming out. He said that the “Wii will be a failure if it cannot sell far more than GameCube did.”

I think we can safely say the Wii outsold the GameCube by far. With that said, what would mark the Wii U as a success for Nintendo? Would it have to surpass the Wii?

You know, we don’t put a marker on success for Wii U at Nintendo. It’s not that we don’t want the product to do well in the market or we don’t want people to enjoy it; we do, but our company was built on innovation and surprising our consumer. We do that through software, we do that for hardware, and the other experiences you get for entertainment through that. It’s what the video game division of our company has been built upon.

So, to use a word like “success,” even at this point, is not something that Nintendo will do. We haven’t launched the product yet, we don’t share the business dealings of what our targets are, but what we can say is this: As soon as we announced the price and launch date, pre-sales went through the roof, to the point where some retailers had to cap them off.

On top of that, we’re going to have additional product that’s going to go into stores on Day One. We want that to sell well, we want it to sell fast, and then we, as a business, want to work with our partners to replenish as quick as possible. And that’s the best we can do.

Determining the pace of how fast the product sells is going to help measure momentum, but that’s not up to us. That’s up to gamers out there embracing this product, and if you want one, you want to play games as soon as possible, you want to play it on Day One? We want you to line up, we want you there as a dedicated fan to get it. We will work with our retailers to replenish as quick as possible, and it is going to be a hot product throughout this holiday time frame.

But to determine success and put a marker on success at this point is not the way we run our business.

*jokingly* So, no statements as other companies have made on how you’ll want to get a second job in order to get one?

*laughs* You know, when you look at a console life cycle… it is based on time, yes; it’s based on the number of hardware units sold, which we call installed base, but it’s about the software experiences, and that’s what our industry is built upon is the fun that you have when you’re playing a video game, or when you’re having another entertainment experience that’s coming through the delivery system of your console.

So, with 23 games coming out on Day One, some of those first-party and some by third-party publishers, and then 50 of those games available from November 18th to March 31st, that is a huge amount of titles to launch at once. And we don’t expect everyone to go out and buy all 23 titles on Day One; I mean, we know some will, or will attempt to, but it’s the relationship you build with your gaming consumer over time and delivering great experiences from the great franchises that we have to offer, and working with our third-party developers to push them to put great experiences on their platforms.

Looking back at a console life cycle after it’s happened is maybe how you can determine success. It’s just a different way to look at it, you can’t really determine it at the beginning.

Speaking of which, would you say Nintendo is going to be better-prepared now than for the Wii, which was sold out for such a long period? Or do you hope that you’re better prepared now?

We are putting a lot of product into the marketplace and we’re going to replenish as quick as possible, and that’s the best we can do. We’re not going to force product that’s not ready, that’s not quality-assured out into the marketplace. We will move as quickly as we can; it’s really up to the consumer and the demand they’re going to put on our product.

We don’t determine that demand; we did have unprecedented demand for Wii, which admittedly we weren’t prepared for. But eventually, everyone who wanted a Wii got one; you can still buy a Wii, if you haven’t got one yet. *laughs* We’re not saying it’s going to take that long for it to happen, but it’s really hard to answer that question because we don’t know what demand is going to be, but we are pushing a lot of product out there.

Speaking of the original Wii; I don’t remember if it was you or Reggie who said it, but there was talk that you were going to continue supporting it, and third-parties are still making games for the original Wii, but is there anything Nintendo is going to be doing first-party-wise, or second?

We haven’t made any announcements for software launches for Wii, but we are going to have the two systems coexist, and that’s for sure. We want consumers to have a choice; Wii and Wii U will coexist for a period of time. We haven’t determined how long that period of time will be, but we haven’t touched everybody with Wii yet.

——–

That was everything I could get from Mr. Ryan this time out (and I went three minutes over my limit, at that). However, he did make sure to mention that Nintendo of Canada now has a Facebook page, so be sure to go there and give it a “Like” to show your Canadian support!

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David Oxford

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