Even two months out from his book Disrupting the Game’s release, Reggie Fils-Aimé is still continuing his press tour to promote it, this time being interviewed by CNET’s Scott Stein. The full 15 minute interview is quite lengthy and detailed, covering everything from Reggie’s history to Nintendo’s future to the Wii Vitality Sensor. Here’s a breakdown:
- Reggie was able to write the book swiftly during the pandemic, in about 18 months. He wrote and edited just about every day.
- He spoke a bit about the launch of the DS and the Wii, which occurred under his earliest tenure at the company. He notes that while people worried about the DS at first when stacked up against the PSP (what he called a “linear progression of technology”), it provided a fresh experience and new ways to play, similar to the Wii. Reggie also notes that early Wii projects leveraged the system, but it was later on that the console’s full potential bore fruit.
- James Park (co-founder on Fitbit) is on the record as being inspired by the Wii, and Reggie totally understood why. “…that is one of the beauties of Nintendo. They’ve got all of the wonderful intellectual property that players love, like Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, but their ability to marry the IP with technology, especially technology that’s accessible? I think that’s a critical part of what the company does.”
- When asked about the mildly infamous Wii Vitality Sensor, Reggie says that the long-absent product was developed around a time where the company was considering issues in overall culture — issues about sleep and anxiety. But in Reggie’s words, no idea at Nintendo ever truly dies, and he believes Nintendo is still tinkering with the concept even now.
- Reggie is a strong proponent in the potential of AR in the gaming space, though he’s not quite as bullish on VR, due to current constraints of the space like motion sickness. He thinks powerful AR experiences are right around the corner.
- Reggie thought Nintendo Labo would be a home run smash, but it didn’t perform quite as well as hoped. While he thinks there’s still potential in the STEM space, Nintendo is in an experimental stage currently.
- The Wii U was a sort of stepping stone for the Switch, showcasing the potential of a console that operated on the tv and in hands, but it didn’t have the leverage or momentum to be a long term success. One of the things Nintendo learned was the need for broad third party and indie support for the console, making sure that Unreal Engine and Unity became Switch compatible shortly after launch. He describes the whole ordeal as “fail[ing] forward.”
- When asked about the NES and SNES Classics, Reggie thinks they provided a nice stopgap and building block for legacy content, but that he doesn’t think the format will come back for the N64 or anything else. In his view, Nintendo would rather just deliver that content digitally now, as seen with N64 emulation on Nintendo Switch Online.
- Reggie “struggle[s] with” the Panic Playdate console due to its unique interface, but is more sold on the Steam Deck, which the only issue he currently has with it is being a bit overpriced.
- Nintendo says the Switch is only halfway through its lifespan, and Reggie talked a bit about how the company will have to leverage momentum to keep the console going another five years. He also thinks it will be a “significant challenge” for Nintendo to make a successful successor to the Switch, as he can only think of two examples of a company going from one juggernaut platform to the next (PlayStation to PlayStation 2 and Game Boy to DS).
- Reggie believes that in about five years or so game streaming will finally be in the right place, and he’s optimistic about how that will turn out. He also “and folks have not liked my statement in this” — thinks there’s great potential in the blockchain as a space in gaming. I wonder why people weren’t big on that one, Reg.
- Reggie’s final comment is on how he believes the games industry could/should be more diverse in a number of ways, and makes the prescient prediction that we’re going to see a hundred Elden Ring clones a couple years from now (he’s right about that one). He also thinks the consolidation across the game industry by the big companies (like Sony getting Bungie and Microsoft acquiring Activision) will lead to increased indie and mid-sized developer activity as devs leave the big companies to do their own thing (I’m not as sure about that one).
You can read or listen to the entire interview yourself, if you have the time.
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