But the two consoles will be launched into a video game atmosphere in which software sales are slowing, and many worry that innovation has been forgotten in lieu of a never-ending flow of sequels. And while franchises like Electronic Arts' "Madden" and Nintendo's "Super Mario Bros." are reliable best sellers, some fear that the industry has lost its enthusiasm for creating brand new titles.
Thus, though the November launch of Microsoft's next-generation console, the Xbox 360 was considered a success, and it's still hard to find one of the machines, there's been a notable lack of excitement over any of the Xbox launch titles. And that's because, though there were a couple of brand-new games for the Microsoft console, most of the 18 that were available for launch were sequels.
For its part, though, Nintendo said it plans to bring a new level of innovation to the table with Revolution. And with that in mind, CNET News.com recently caught up with Reggie Fils-Aime, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Nintendo America, and asked him about the company's plans going forward.
Q: We understand you have some New Year's resolutions for Nintendo. Let's start there.
Fils-Aime: Sure. From my perspective, I have five resolutions for the industry heading into 2006. The first is keeping our eyes on the prize. This industry is about entertainment, and in the end, he with the best games wins. So at Nintendo, we're focused on putting the most entertaining products into the marketplace.
The second resolution is keeping the mass in the mass audience. The world is fragmenting all around us, and many companies are making their products too exclusive and expensive for the general consumer.
For example, for American consumers to get into the Xbox 360 franchise, with games and extra contollers, they had to spend more than $700, not including an HD TV, which is really the only way to positively experience 360. We resolve at Nintendo to remain within reach for the vast majority of our consumers.
Fils-Aime: By first creating gaming-centric systems and consoles, whether it's handhelds or home consoles. That will ensure that for gamers, our products are totally focused on their needs versus products that try to integrate music or other things that, frankly, aren't what great gaming experiences are all about.
Since you mentioned pricing, I assume the Revolution will be accessible to gamers for substantially less than $700?
Fils-Aime: That's correct. The next-generation console from Nintendo, code-named Revolution, will cost less than $300. Our third resolution is to stop turning away new players.
This industry has become more and more focused on the niche, and at Nintendo, we've opened our systems to a wide range of consumers. Whether it's consumers older than 35 or female gamers, we've attracted them with "Nintendogs" and "Animal Crossing," so we've resolved to bring as many new consumers into this industry as possible.
And the fourth resolution?
Fils-Aime: It is to turn game development into a democracy of great ideas. Just as the cost of systems seems to be getting out of reach for everyday consumers, the cost of game development is getting out of reach for game publishers. The Revolution will be more affordable for game developers to create for, and that will result in fantastically innovative content.
Let's talk handhelds. Obviously, the Nintendo DS is doing well, with 13 million sold so far. But Sony's PSP seems to have more buzz.
Fils-Aime: I disagree. The DS is outselling PSP across the world. The DS is also generating huge buzz in the blogosphere. The fact is, we have a number of not only worldwide but even U.S.-centric million-unit selling games, and Sony doesn't.
We have games that are successfully expanding the audience for gaming for DS, and that's not true for Sony. The buzz for the DS is huge and growing, and the most anticipated handheld titles are on our platform, not on Sony's.
OK, so what about the fifth resolution?
Fils-Aime: The mythical performance vector for this industry is more processing power and prettier pictures, but what's really driven growth is actually improving the way consumers play and get into the game. It's what we've successfully done with the Nintendo DS and what we're committed to doing with the Revolution and the controller we've unveiled for Revolution.
Tell me about the controller. What makes it noteworthy?
Fils-Aime: It allows you to essentially manipulate the game by pointing at it. The activity that happens in the game is quite responsive with the controller, and we've shown that sports games can be brought to a new level of immersion with the controller.
Fils-Aime: It allows you to manipulate not only a puck or a football, but also to manipulate the player in a way that's never been done before. So if I'm developing a football game, I can move across
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