MediaFile

Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime: “Very Optimistic”

Wouldn’t you like to be Reggie Fils-Aime right now. Things probably couldn’t be better for the President of Nintendo of America — largely the face behind the popular “Wii” phenomenon — despite the global economic troubles.

While other executives speaking at the BMO Capital Markets Interactive Entertainment Conference today sprinkled words of concern into their otherwise upbeat addresses, Fils-Aime plainly and confidently said Nintendo is doing just fine, thank you very much.

Reuters talked to Fils-Aime about Wii availability, the DS handheld game, the future of ‘packaged’ games versus online games, and price cuts.

Reuters: Many of the executive speaking at the conference said they were cautiously optimistic about the video game industry during the holiday season. What’s your view?

Fils-Aime: If I look at this from an industry perspective, I think ‘cautiously optimistic’ is quite appropriate. If I look at it from a Nintendo perspective, i would say ‘very optimistic’. We have very strong products in the marketplace — both hardware and software. The Wii console continues to sell out, (and) on the DS side, we are at almost 20 percent growth year on year, on a record year in 2007. We have had very strong software growth, both console and handheld. And we have just launched Wii music (and) we are about to launch Animal Crossing. So we need to execute and continue delivering strong value and strong entertainment choices for the consumer, and if we do that we should have a robust holiday season.

During your presentation, you mentioned that the Wii had a “monster month” in October. Does that continue into November and December?

Video games industry appeals to core gamers at Leipzig convention

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    The rise of casual video gaming may have grabbed the headlines over the past couple of years, but the more hardcore end of the market dominated at Europe’s biggest gaming convention in Leipzig last week.
    Apart from new iterations of popular karaoke-style games such as Activision‘s Guitar Hero, Electronic ArtsRockBand and Sony‘s SingStar, which arguably kick-started the trend of easy-to-play casual fare, the world’s biggest games publishers focused on products for their core audience.
    Upcoming release Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 was a case in point. Not only does the game involve sending dozens of types of futuristic military unit across apocalyptic landscapes, but EA was marketing it in part on the basis that one of the
actresses in it, Jenny McCarthy, is a former Playboy playmate of the year.
    Most publishers were playing it safe, focusing on sequels such as a new version of The Sims – the virtual doll’s house franchise which has sold over 100 million copies since launch in 200? — or movie tie-ins such as a game based on new James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
    True innovation was thin on the ground, at least on a whistle-stop tour view of the main publishers’ offerings. Ubisoft demoed a game in the same genre as Command and Conquer which could be fully voice-controlled — apparently a first for consoles — while Sony previewed LittleBigPlanet. This marries the hot theme of user-designed content (think YouTube or MySpace) to an age-old platforming mechanic, the basics of which that would be familiar to anyone who had played Nintendo‘s Mario games.
    Cute sack-doll characters jump over flames and on to rising platforms, but the novelty is that most of the game, from the characters’ outfits and personalities to the landscapes over which they clamber can be modified by players and shared online.
    But for two of the other most hotly awaited games of the season, there was no news, albeit for opposite reasons. EA’s Spore, in which players guide a lifeform in the Darwinian struggle from primaeval soup to interplanetary conflict, is due out on Sept. 4 and had already been presented in near-final form at other events, so did not get a spot in EA’s main presentation.
    World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, the next installment of the online role-playing game that has over 10 million subscribers — was available to play in an early form, but it remained unclear when the final version would be on sale. A spokesman for Activision unit Blizzard could not even confirm it would definitely be out before Christmas.

    * Where do you think gaming is going in the run-up to this year’s holiday season? Were you at the Leipzig Games Convention? Tell us what you think below.

Google, Viacom privacy accord leaves unanswered questions

masks.jpgGoogle and Viacom reached a late night accord on safeguarding the anonymity of Google YouTube viewers. Google will no longer have to hand over the user names and IP addresses of its viewers.

But what of the scuffle around the viewership data of Google and YouTube’s own employees? CNET’s Greg Sandoval reported last week the negotiations stalled on Google’s unwillingness to turn over information on its own employees, citing unnamed sources.

In other words, how would Viacom’s $1 billion copyright infringement suit against Google turn out if the data showed YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley viewing and uploading “Colbert Report” videos?

Mii too!

xbox-avatars.pngIf imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Nintendo should feel very flattered by Microsoft’s press conference that kicked off today’s E3 Media & Business Summit in Los Angeles. 

Our video games reporter Kemp Powers points out similarities. 

One of the major announcements at the press conference was a planned overhaul of the Xbox 360 console interface. The new suite of features will include a community games channel to showcase (Warning: media buzzword) user-generated titles.

More interestingly, Microsoft heavily plugged the addition of cartoon-like personalized avatars that can be inserted into a number of upcoming casual and family game titles.

Who will run Yahoo?

yahoo-sign.jpgWho’s going to run Yahoo?

There are myriad answers to that question, but AllThingsD suggests that Ross Levinsohn, the former head of News Corp’s Fox Interactive Media Group, and partner, former AOL Chief Jon Miller, are heavily mentioned as the kind who might get a crack at it.

Miller’s an interesting choice and one wonders if joining the company would push Yahoo closer to an AOL deal. Miller wasn’t immediately reachable on Monday night.

Meanwhile there’s no guarantee that Jerry Yang, who is still in charge, is going anywhere. In fact, on Monday, Yahoo itself worked to rally shareholder support in the face of a proxy battle with Carl Icahn, saying the his plan for the company’s future was “ill-defined”, and questioned whether Microsoft was ever serious about a full-scale merger.