Here's Iwata-san's basic speech, which he's just finished - ONLY NOTES, and via a translator at that. Just incredible - the video of the controller should be on the net in moments, and go get it. It's fantastic.
I talked [recently] about the history of the game industry; when we looked at the current market, and the shrinking of the Japanese marketplace; then I went on to talk about trends and opportunities in the environment. Here’s a short synopsis of topics I covered 2 years ago. The industry has grown and expanded very well, and hasn’t been affected by our economic slump, due to the ability to keep players interested. Many in the industry think that if we keep doing the same things – more complex and photorealistic games – the industry will continue to grow. This idea is deeply ingrained in many people, I am afraid to say.
There are few instances in business that show that something can grow by holding the same structure that it’s held for the previous 30 years. For the future of videogame business we have to expand the market. We need to abandon the memories of past success and get back to the basics. In order to create products that can by enjoyed by anyone, the whole industry needs to make an effort. First – unless we can increase the number of people who are willing to play, we can never expand the market. If we cannot expand the market, all we can do is wait for the industry to slowly die. Because Nintendo was the first and only ones to identify this issue, we have come up with a strategy. So I will explain a few of the topics we’ve undertaken. To expand the gaming population there are 3 main challenges:
1. First, we had to reengage the people who had stopped playing.
2. We had to attract new gamers.
3. Finally, and most important we had to introduce new products that appeal to veterans and new gamers alike.
So it was important for us to pursue both audiences simultaneously. We launched famicom mini to celebrate the diversity of the famicom, and we ported all the classics to gameboy advance. We wanted those who had once played to play again. We launched 30 titles, and it received a very warm welcome, selling 4m copies. A wide variety of male and female, across all ages, visited our outlets. This is tangible evidence that the expansion is beginning to show results.
On the birthday of Mario, we also launched the Micro. The smallest game machine in history of Nintendo. The famicom version – looks like the famicom controller – is the most popular. This gameboy micro is one of our challenges in our quest to expand the population. For those who can’t dedicate time and energy to complicated games, these people are our target. Mobile players. The second challenge in expanding the population is enticing new people. Videogames have become highly sophisticated and challenging. The hurdle is too high for many first time players! But if we were to only offer simple games, we wouldn’t satisfy the veterans. Therefore.. for both the vets and the new ones, we needed a brand new proposal, we need new hardware.
One answer is the DS. In the past the games are played with thumbs of both hands. We began by drastically changing that interface. Touch control. Wireless communications. Microphone input. Full of features to redefine the relationship between players and games. But even more important - the software. We are aiming to expand the gaming population. We are creating a new starting line, so what software do we need to create? Of course for the current gamers around the world it is important to continue to enrich the existing game genres. But more visuals, more enemies etc can be too intimidating. For vets these games look too familiar. So even for these existing genres we need to provide innovation. By taking advantage of the interface of DS, we narrow the distance between games and players, and we created entirely new genres of games!
We launched an unprecedented product lineup. Touch! Generations – none of these belonged to existing genres. These are the titles aiming to expand the population. More specifically: nintendogs. I think this game is familiar to you. You can pet your puppies and teach your dogs tricks with your voice. In “Bark mode”, with wifi, your doggie can communicate with other doggies you pass in the street. Even those who have never played games can enjoy nintendogs today. We’ve sold a million doggies here alone. On august 2 we began to sell in America. 250,000 sold in one week – a higher rate of sales in Japan! Dogs have a universal appeal! We are looking forward to the European launch of nintendogs next month.
Then we also launched a brain training game. The DS Brain Trainer. You talk to the DS. You write on it. You can measure your brain age. Senior citizens loved this! And lastly, the game called Flexible Brainmaking Software, this is for everyone, small kids to senior citizens. This game has become popular with lots of people regardless of age, gender, etc. DS has the highest number of active female players (pic).
Look at these sales figures. (pics) Unprecedented. Nintendogs is still selling, in its 10th week. This is unheard of for normal console platforms, like Playstation and Gamecube. These games are encouraging purchasers to purchase hardware too, many weeks after launch. This data shows we are expanding the market. DS sell through topped 3m at the end of august, 9 months from launch. This does not just show the popularity, this IS the result of our endeavours to expand the population. We’d like to look at the Japanese games market from a different angle. Let us compare the past three years’ market sizes. The current gen home console market is reaching saturation, and sales are dropping. But mobile and handheld is up. 220% on last year! The portable game market has significantly expanded in the past two years. More than 10% growth on last year. In spite of the fact that home console was down, thanks to portable growing, the whole market size has come back to that of two years ago. We have a solid feeling that what we have been doing in the past 2 years to expand the gaming population has succeeded in expanding the Japanese gaming market.
Overseas we have just begun our strategy to expand the gaming population with the launch of nintendogs. We expect to see the same good results in non-japanese markets as well. We will offer new proposals to veteran gamers too. Fortunately we have found that people who have played with games with touchscreen titles, are continuing to be active players. Warioware Touch! is still showing up on the sales charts. We have one more important element of our strategy. That’s Nintendo wifi connection. A consumer who purchases a wifi compatible game, can visit a special Nintendo hotspot and start playing. We will not require monthly fees or any other charges – no economic hurdles! We have designed a system that will ensure a good experience, and it takes off worldwide this year. Animal Crossing and Mariokart DS are our launch titles. Up until now due to many hurdles only a handful of people could enjoy games by connecting existing game consoles to the Internet. It is our goal that all people who purchase wifi game will try the wifi connection at least once.
So I have taken a long time for the prelude. [laughter]
Now that Nintendo has demonstrated a positive market expansion, what will we propose in the console arena? I talked about Revolution at E3. Here’s a picture of it. It is very compact! Our aim is identical in both portable and console machines – we always have the same mission. How can we expand the gaming population and develop the market? It is in this area that we much focus our efforts. Before we began with DS, I had a growing sense of crisis. Since the days of famicom, the control mechanism has become more and more sophisticated. Perhaps those who have never played have looked at the controller and thought, too difficult. In order to expand the gaming pop it is taken for granted that we need to satisfy veteran gamers. But at the same time we need a new proposal to get new players in, to have them say I can do it! I can touch it! So what’s most important is the controller interface. Those who are not playing today, those who are not sure if they have nimble enough fingers… and at the same time offering new sensations to vet gamers? How? We can encourage people to play games with fresh excitement from the same starting line. This was the same approach as taken from DS. But we can’t split the TV into two nor can we make it touch screen. So we disregarded convention wisdom that the controller must be held by two hands.
Look at this.
[OMFG. It’s long and squarish. You shake it. Touch it. Drum with it. Bat with it. Point with it. Conduct with it. Use it like a pencil. Or a TV remote. Thumbpad add on. It’s like a nunchuk – there’s an extra controller for the other hand, strung by a wire..]
In order to have a controller that anyone can understand, we have come up with a design that doesn’t look like anyone else’s controllers. And we have changed game design too! This controller has a Direct Pointing Device. Revolution can detect precisely which location on the screen the controller is pointing at. With this technology, you can point at a location intuitively, but Revolution can detect your distance from the screen, and the angle of your controller. These controllers are wireless. It is intuitive! At the same time for vet players it is fresh and surprising. We can also use multiple controllers at the same time. Multiple players can be engaged in an intense squash game, or a slow, precise cooking game. You can play musical instruments with two controllers at once! A fishing game with rod-like action! Wave it.. and you can jump.
So this is with one hand. But another characteristic is its flexibility for expansion. You can expand the Direct Pointing Device: this connector is the gateway to enormous possibilities for expansion. Today I have just shown what we call the nun-chuk style expansion! [haha]We are planning on including this controller with the basic Revolution hardware package. In the first person shooter genre, very important overseas, we believe the nun-chuk will set a new standard, for instance you can intuitively explore in the dark using it as a flashlight. Just as supermario 64 defined the 3d console standard, I’m looking forward to seeing how this play control can change play for games like Zelda. I hope you are as excited as I am to see the final outcome!
Now I need to explain why we are proposing such a significantly different play style and controller. There are people in each family waiting to pick up controllers, and people who would never touch them, but anyone would pick up a TV remote. Why? We thought that the notion of moving right and left hands simultaneously and nimbly is maybe a psychological barrier. To expand the population we had to design a controller that could sit on the living room table and look relevant to them. So we made it compact. Also just like a TV remote, it can be manipulated for one hand. The hurdle for nongamers must be significantly lowered. The revolution controller will enable all users to intuitively play from the same starting line. With such expansion like nun-chuk, you can use both hands too. It will provide brand new feeling for controlling FPS and action games. I want you to look forward to seeing how your most beloved games will feel with this new controller – and how as developers you will change your games too!
We have a great opportunity to develop innovative software with great ideas. Brain Training DS had a small development team, and took advantage of the new design. 10 people, and total development, was less than 4 months! Many have been concerned that time and money and risk for next gen is too much. Nintendo wants to provide a stage on which to showcase your ideas. Nintendo is willing to help bring those ideas to life, if seeing the controller today sparks new ideas, Nintendo is ready for your proposals!
We are not only going to offer small and simple games, but we are also going to establish a new standard for game control. We need to get novice and veteran players. We can’t expand without both, and because of this we need to propose a wide variety of software, encompassing many different sizes and types of games, Since the launch of famicom 20 years ago, the game industry has evolved significantly. Even now there are many people who believe in the idea that as long as we continue with just making games more gorgeous we will continue to expand. But the final judgment will be made by games players around the world. Those people can carry on in that direction if they believe in it, but we don’t believe in it. The changes in the Japanese market, the reactions to DS, and the emerging changes in overseas markets, are assuring us that we need to create new innovations completely different from the past. Touching puppies have allowed vets and novices to start from the same starting point. We’re making great sales, I believe that it is the job of all of us, the creators, to continue to supply people and constant innovation is key.
When games can no longer surprise, people will grow tired of gaming. So we need innovation in console games as well! The uniqueness of the innovation must be intuitively understandable. This will dynamically change the way we play games. We’d like to join forces with everyone in this industry to improve our products so they are enjoyed by many more people to come. Thank you very much.