Satoru Iwata has fielded plenty of questions about the Wii U and 3DS in recent months, with the latter providing some welcome positivity against what Nintendo itself regards as a poor 2013 for the Wii U. Of course a rough patch doesn't doom a system, as the 3DS demonstrates, and we're approaching the beginnings of a major attempt at re-vitalisation for the home console.
The Nintendo President certainly did the interview rounds during E3, particularly, and UK paper The Guardian has just recently published the results from its own chat with Iwata-san at the event. Much of the conversation follows the standard lines, with talk about a strong lineup driving sales through the rest of 2013, third-parties to hopefully be wooed back by a shift in momentum and others that have unannounced projects.
In addressing the struggles of the Wii U to sell its message, meanwhile, Satoru Iwata did acknowledge that Nintendo Land didn't deliver a Wii Sports-style impact, and admitted that as well as convincing consumers about the merits of the system Nintendo is tasked with improving its and the console's reputation and image in the wider market.
In the case of the Wii, for example, just by bundling Wii Sports, it was easily conveyed to the consumers that the Wii was a very unique and different system. But in the case of the Wii U, we have not come to that stage yet. We hoped that Nintendo Land would have been able to execute that kind of responsibility, but for those people who have only seen how other people are playing with the Wii U and Nintendo Land, they could not know how uniquely different the Wii U is from the Wii. As a result, Wii U is a machine for which the evaluation differs greatly depending on whether you own it at home or not. So, what we really need to do now is to launch software titles for the Wii U that can take advantage of its unique aspects, one after the other. So much so that a great number of people are able to touch the Wii U and feel how unique it is. We need to expand the number of such people. And once the number of people has reached critical mass, I think the public view of Nintendo will be changed.
On the happy subject of the 3DS, meanwhile, Iwata-san highlighted how performance in Japan is indicative of what the company hopes to achieve worldwide, but also that the system is holding its own in an environment packed with smartphones and alternative options.
Some indie developers have told us that when they offer the same software on iOS and Android, and in the eShop on Nintendo 3DS, the 3DS eShop version sells most. There are various theories that people often talk about, because there has been such an expansion of mobile devices, that handheld videogame devices won't sell any more. But the fact is, last year in Japan, approximately 5.5m unit sales were made for the Nintendo 3DS, and as you might expect in Japan, 2012 was a phenomenal year for smart devices. But when we look at any hit, popular handheld game devices, the only hardware which managed to sell more than 5m units in one year was the 3DS – that took the DS three years.
At the conclusion of the interview Satoru Iwata stated that the 3DS looks on track to reach its 18 million unit target for the year, and that a strong remainder of 2013 / early 2014 will hopefully see him return to E3 in stronger circumstances next year. Whatever happens, the company is going all out to convince gamers that Nintendo systems are still the best devices to own at home and on the road.