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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.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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