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Thursday, May 5, 2022

Reggie Fils-Aime vs. Shigeru Miyamoto: The Wii Sports

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Now we get to learn even more about Miyamoto's bad judgment!

This week, former Nintendo of America executive Reggie Fils-Aime released his book, Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo, where he shares his business and life experience and lessons, including his rise at Nintendo and really his American dream story as a disruptive marketing executive. I see a lot of sites gushing over many stories that Reggie shared in his book. If you look at Nintendo Life, for example, the whole site for the past couple of days has been almost nothing but Reggie Fils-Aime stories.

So I'm hoping for KoopaTV, this'll be the only Reggie Fils-Aime article as a result of the book and the stories there—I have a mixed opinion on Reggie. Well, unless I actually go buy and read his book, which I'm mildly interested in despite not reading books (despite me saying books are a good medium). I want to focus particularly on the story around Wii Sports where Reggie Fils-Aime had to lobby former Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata, as well as Shigeru Miyamoto, on bundling the Wii with Wii Sports.

Reggie Fils-Aime disrupting the game Geoff Keighley Amazon review what is his title
Check out his book's rave reviews, featuring Geoff Keighley, the man with the unknown title; and Geoff Keighley, the creator and CEO of The Game Awards.
Very different folks who happen to share the same positive thoughts. Look how broad the support is for Reggie's new book!


The story goes that Satoru Iwata (who more than just Reggie's boss, but a real friend, so says Reggie) was talking with Reggie Fils-Aime on how to best position their upcoming console, the Wii, in the Americas. They were talking about Wii Sports, which Satoru Iwata was planning to sell as a separate title, not bundled with the Wii. Reggie wanted to pack Wii Sports with every Wii console to immediately communicate and make it obvious to every customer the value proposition of the Wii Remote and motion controls, which was the central and novel innovation of the Wii that would distinguish it in the market. However, Iwata disagreed—Nintendo doesn't give away free content (Iwata was conveniently ignoring Super Mario World coming with the SNES, or Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt and sometimes World Class Track Meet coming with the NES), and the software's appeal will make it an evergreen title that will sell on its own throughout the Wii's lifespan.

After many months, Reggie convinced Satoru Iwata that bundling Wii Sports would be the best approach. However, Shigeru Miyamoto would not be moved. However, because Satoru Iwata was warming up to Reggie's point of view, he summoned Reggie to Kyoto to show him Wii Play to package with the Wii instead of Wii Sports. While Reggie liked Wii Play, he thought that it being a weaker experience than Wii Sports wouldn't demonstrate the Wii Remote's capabilities as well as Wii Sports: Reggie believed that Wii Sports had more depth and staying power than the more shallow minigames of Wii Play. (Clearly, they didn't demo Tanks! to him.)

Instead, according to himself, Reggie was the one who then immediately proposed bundling Wii Play with a Wii Remote at replay in order to encourage more Wii Remote sales. It appeared that Satoru Iwata instantly approved of the thought, because Iwata recognised that Wii Play wouldn't sell well as a 50 USD game but would be much more popular as a companion to a Wii Remote, which very much proved to be true and was the reason that I personally bought Wii Play.

However, Shigeru Miyamoto's reaction, according to Reggie's recollection, can best be described by me as the Happy Mask Salesman going from a happy fellow to extremely angry, like this scene from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.




“So now Mike and I were trying to get agreement to two different bundles, and the world’s best game designer was not happy. The ever-present smile and impish squint of Mr. Miyamoto’s eyes were gone. “Neither of you understands the challenges of creating software that people love to play. This is something we constantly push ourselves to do. We do not give away our software,” Mr. Miyamoto stated.”

Despite Miyamoto's insular perspective that was certainly not driven by the needs of the market, Satoru Iwata described how Reggie had a perspective of the Western market and the business needs there that Miyamoto had no idea about. (Keep in mind that Miyamoto and Iwata are well-established industry veterans, while Reggie is still not only relatively new to Nintendo, but to the industry as a whole, so imagine how Miyamoto feels being defied by this upstart.) By the time of the Wii's launch, Wii Sports was bundled with the Wii in the West, while Wii Sports and the Wii were sold separately in Japan. Reggie described that Wii Sports had the largest cultural impact in the Americas and Europe, which drove Wii sales overall and made it the sales powerhouse it became. Wii Play was bundled with the Wii Remote everywhere, including Japan, and sold excellently.

Reggie Fils-Aime vs Shigeru Miyamoto give away software Wii packed in bundle Sports Play Happy Mask Salesman
If I actually had graphical talent and wasn't on a deadline, I'd have a convincing image where
Happy Mask Shigeru Miyamoto would be strangling Young Reggie.


It's interesting, because this was all over the OBJECTION of Shigeru Miyamoto, who also went on to state that everyone should get a Wii and be fond of the Wii Remote as the new standard and everyone should have the Wii Remote in their hands. However, it was Reggie's business decisions and skill at disrupting Miyamoto's establishment, conventional mind that actually accomplished that.

As far as I know, Reggie doesn't mention the failed Nintendo TVii in his book, which was his main focus for the Wii U that was a complete flop. But maybe I have to get his book to find out the truth.



Do you think Reggie Fils-Aime was too disruptive and uppity to push back against the supposedly great Shigeru Miyamoto? Or do you think Nintendo should have listened to him more often? Let KoopaTV know your thoughts, and if you got his book.

8 comments :

  1. Most thought provoking article of the year, certainly. I'd like to think that Miyamoto of all people hasn't fallen into the trap of assuming past successes means they can do no wrong...but adding this to how he treated Origami King... :/

    Also, even after re signing in to my Google account to post my last comment, this comment field still put anon as my default. Also for some reason Google Account was grayed out as an option until I refreshed the page. I'll see if I can reproduce this bug the next time I want to comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I, uh, didn't think it was particularly thought-provoking myself. But I'd say 2006-ish is the start of Miyamoto's descent into madness that continues to this day.
      I'm hoping you can't reproduce it and you never have to deal with it again. <.<

      Delete
  2. Yes! I like these Miyamoto articles. He certainly has become a real character over the years. Wii play is neat, but the casual audience is more familiar with sports than any of the specific games in wii play. It’s easier to convince grandpa to play bowling than Tanks!

    It will be interesting to see how marketing goes in the future when the last generation to grow up without video games passes away. The casual game genre has a strong audience but it could very quickly become niche if even all the elderly folks are hardcore gamers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grandpa might get PTSD from Tanks!

      Reggie will tell you that casual games are here to stay. Remember that more people in the present generation play Wordle and such than hardcore games.

      Delete
    2. Yes, I suppose that’s true. Maybe mobile gaming really is the future…..BARF!

      Delete
    3. Ah, with the rate Nintendo's mobile games are going, they won't be part of that future.

      IN THE FUTURE, THE NEW YORK TIMES WILL TAKE MORE GAMING REVENUE THAN NINTENDO.

      Delete
    4. The day they put ads on Wordle, is the day I stop playing Wordle.

      Delete
    5. Wordle 322 4/6

      ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜
      🟨⬜⬜⬜🟩
      🟨🟩⬜⬜🟩
      🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

      No ads yet!

      Delete

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