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Talking with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, Part 2

Talking with Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, Part 2 (photo)

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My mammoth interview with the man in charge of all things Wii (at least in America) continues. In this section, Reggie explains how marketing games for the Wii needs to be approached differently than on other consoles and which externally produced games sell like the titles Nintendo makes itself.

Going back to larger strategy, it seems that, out the gate, you may not be having to support the 3DS when it comes out solely on the strength of first-party content. Comparing the 3DS to the Wii with regard to third-party partnerships, there appears to be a lot more partners on board pre-launch than with the Wii. But it also seems like that third parties may be necessarily supporting you guys on the Wii the way they did after launch. And this is something, again, that Mr. Iwata has said that maybe other publishers still don’t understand the Wii the way we do, how to create content for the consul. What would you have to say to that?

A couple of different things. First, you can clearly see a progression between DS, Wii and 3DS in terms of third party support. When we launched DS, there were number of developers there at the start, but they did not have content that really showcased the capabilities of the system in a big way.

There is a lot of different reasons for that, including maybe a little lack of belief, especially. Remember PSP was launching at the same time as the DS, and popular opinion was that it’s all about graphical horsepower. That was then. Now, jump to the Wii and there was a much broader line-up of support for the Wii right out of the gate. Pretty good support. (And at this point, the DS is still enjoying very strong sales momentum.) Now, with the 3DS, it’s become much more extensive, because I do believe developers know that our hardware approach and the input devices really will lead to compelling experiences. That’s one aspect [of how things have changed].

There is another aspect though that developers now, and publishers now, I think are just becoming to understand. We have got almost a 30 million unit install base on the Wii, and these consumers are different. They react differently when you launch content, compared to the more smaller install bases of our two competitors, which are predominantly very, very, very active gamers, right? And so you have a product like–I mean, pick one, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2”, massive sale peak and then pretty rapid…


Decline. That is not the sales curve that you see on the Wii. A title like “New Super Mario Brothers Wii” that sold five plus million units, it had a strong peak and then it stayed fairly high. The same thing “Wii Fit”, same thing with “Wii Fit Plus”, same with Super Mario Galaxy”. Hopefully, the same thing with “Super Mario Galaxy 2”. Publishers like Ubisoft saw that kind of curve with “Just Dance”.

The reason that the sales curve is important is it drives your marketing investment decisions. When you have got this massive spike and a massive fall down, everything is front-loaded. With something that’s more even, you have to spread your marketing investment, right? Spreading marketing investment [like that ] was not done on, you know, pick a third party publish title for Wii. Not one of them, with one exception, “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games”, both summer and winter. And by the way, when you look at that sales curve, it looks more like a Nintendo first-party sales curve.

So you are saying publishers need to be prepared to have marketing support, not just at launch. But how long is that timeframe? I mean, when do you decide to call time-of-death? It could be like on a medical drama where they keep doing chest compressions on a dead body, you know?

You know, it’s intuitive, it’s based on game quality. I will give you an example, “Style Savvy,” that we launched last year on the DS. If I were a traditional publisher after the first couple of weeks, I might have pulled all my marketing support. Because the sales, you know, they didn’t go the way we thought it would go, didn’t come out of the gate like gangbusters. But, boy, that third week, we saw a nice big spike, fourth week spiked again. It’s a different type of sales curve.

Can you attribute that to anything in particular?

You know, it’s the awareness build and how it’s happening title by title. It’s the word of mouth, which ties back to the quality of the content. You know, when I have these type of conversations with publishers, the main message I deliver to them is, “Look, if you have a game and the quality is high, invest behind it. And invest behind it over time, it will pay you back.” And when publishers have done that, that’s exactly what’s happened. Again, “Just Dance” is a great example. Fun game, high quality, fantastic buzz value that kept the sales curve go, and yet it continues today.

You know, there have been publishers who have said, in the last 12 months or so, that they made a really big bet on the Wii and didn’t necessarily get a commensurate return on their investment. How do you respond to them? Without naming names, because I know that puts you in a weird position…

[Laughs] You know, it’s — we have very candid conversations with all of our publishing partners, to share the benefits of our knowledge. And all I can tell you is the ones who really hear the feedback and apply the feedback have seen very strong results. You know, another great case in point is “EA Sports Active.” Steady level of investment over time, strong sales over time.

So do you feel like that was a case of EA maybe course-correcting what their expectations were?

I don’t think it was about expectations, I think what EA took to heart in that particular launch was an understanding that with a high quality game (which it was) targeted to a demographic that is not thinking, you know, “Let me run right out on launch day,” they had to have ongoing support in order to maximize the sales over time.

Mr. Iwata has said that Nintendo’s core mission in creating content is to expand the gaming audience. What I’m hearing from you now is that if you are going to do that, it’s not just about like what’s on the platform or the technology in the platform, but also how you talk about it.

It’s everything, it really is a philosophy that yes, absolutely starts with the game, but then extends to system, it extends to the marketing approach, the communications approach, everything needs to be aligned. If you believe that, then apply that thinking to what our competitors are trying to do.

Okay, fair enough. So are you saying that they haven’t figured out their messaging yet?

I’m not–you said that. All I’m saying is that you cannot try and address a nontraditional demographic with traditional mechanisms.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.