Nintendo on Wii U: 'Still a lot to do'

Director of product marketing Bill Trinen describes system launch as mile 14 of a marathon; teases Wii U/3DS interoperability news for E3 2013.

Nintendo has bold ambitions for the Wii U. Released just yesterday in the United States, Nintendo's first high-definition console is aiming to reshape the way consumers not only play games, but also enjoy entertainment. It's a lofty ambition, but after the Wii took the gaming world by storm, betting against Nintendo does not seem to be the wisest move.

Bill Trinen.

To get a deeper insight into Nintendo's plans for the Wii U and beyond, GameSpot caught up with Bill Trinen, director of product marketing at Nintendo. Talking to GameSpot from inside the Nintendo World Store in the famous Rockefeller Center in New York City during Nintendo's Wii U launch event Saturday night, Trinen spoke at length about the Wii U.

Of note, this interview was conducted just after 9 p.m. on the evening of Saturday, November 17.

We're now two hours and fifty minutes from launch. What's going through your head right now?

(Laughs) It's been, obviously, a really long haul since we first showed [Wii U] at E3 2011. And we've been working non-stop ever since. I honestly think this is a system that people won't really understand what's so amazing about it until they've had a chance to have it in their home and start using it on a daily basis. And I just think that once [gamers] start interacting with [Wii U] in terms of the games and how the GamePad interacts with the TV and especially the social element and the other entertainment elements; it's really going to, I think, change the way we enjoy entertainment.

"I honestly think this is a system that people won't really understand what's so amazing about it until they've had a chance to have it in their home and start using it on a daily basis. "

You were also around for the 2006 launch of the Wii?

I was around for the 2006 launch of the Wii.

How do those two experiences compare? Because with the Wii, we saw the revolution that it set, and now things are not certain [for the Wii U].

Probably the one big difference between the Wii launch and the Wii U launch is that Wii U is just a more complex system. There's so much else that it's doing beyond games that it's really been an interesting process of helping getting everything ready and trying to make sure all the complexities are there and ready. And I think people are going to be really excited when they bring it home tonight and they turn it on, update it, and get all the content that's coming.

Speaking to that point, the update didn't roll out until this evening. You also revealed on Friday that [Wii U] is not going to have TVii until December. Can you talk about why?

Well, I think everybody who knows Nintendo, knows that Nintendo wants everything to be the absolute best that it can. Obviously we wanted to have Nintendo TVii available as soon as possible. There's just a few additional tweaks that need to be made.

What kind of impact do you think that's going to have on people buying it tonight who take it home and want to use some of those features?

To be honest, I don't think that there's going to be a tremendous impact because the people are going to be going home tonight and they're going to be playing games; they're going to be experiencing Miiverse for the first time. And that, I think is going to give them a lot to be looking at and kind of figuring out. There's Wii U chat that's there day-one and Netflix is also going to be a part of the day-one offering. eShop, along with a ton of content, is also there day-one. So it's really more about just making sure that that Nintendo TVii service is absolutely perfect when it launches. Because we think it's probably more important that people sit down with it the first time and have a really great experience and want to keep using it than necessarily trying to push it out too soon and have people dissatisfied with it.

So it's targeted for sometime in December?

Yeah, that's the window. I'm looking forward to New Years Day and watching Bowl Games (laughs).

Coming up [this week] is Black Friday. When consumers are going out they're going to see a $200 Xbox 360 and a $200 PS3, and then they're going to see a $300 Wii U and a $350 Wii U. Does that present any problems?

I don't think so. Because Wii U is really the first new system in a new generation of consoles. When the Wii launched, you could still go out and buy a GameCube or a PS2 at a lower price point. So it's always the case where the previous generation of consoles are on the market at a lower price and that's never been a problem for consoles up until now. Particularly, when you look at everything the Wii U is doing, and the fact that with the GamePad, it's really going to change the way that people play games. I think that people are going to see the value really quickly. To me, the thing that is probably most impressive is the launch lineup. On day one there's a ton of games coming both from us and the third-parties. We're seeing things like Call of Duty, and obviously that's not a Nintendo version of a Call of Duty game, it's a full Call of Duty game.

Can you talk about the Wii U's day-one patch. What if a user doesn't have the Internet?

First and foremost, Wii U is a system that you can play games on if you do not have an Internet connection. But really, to enjoy all the features of the Wii U, the majority of those features are network-based features. Whether it is Miiverse--obviously you can't exchange messages without a network connection. Nintendo TVii and [video on demand] apps also both rely on network connections, as does the eShop. So if you're buying the system and you want to play games without connecting it to the Internet, you can certainly do that.

"When you look at everything the Wii U is doing, and the fact that with the GamePad, it's really going to change the way that people play games."

Regarding the marketing message for Wii U versus the Wii, for the Wii it was "Wii would like to play" and for the Wii U the dominant message is "How U will play next." The former seems very inviting when the latter is more of a declaration; it's more assertive. Am I reading to far into it? What's your take on the two marketing messages?

Well, I think there's a couple of differences between Wii, and what it was trying to do, and Wii U, and what this system is really all about. Wii was really about expanding the gaming audience. And it was a system that specifically attracted people who had never played video games or maybe hadn't played a game since the [Nintendo Entertainment System]. And so in that sense, that system was really all about being welcoming. And obviously a lot of people loved the system and a lot of people have it in their homes. So when you're talking about Wii U, it really is sort of that next-gen way to play games and we really want all of those people who owned Wii to understand that they can continue to play and this is a new way to play. It's really a message of you can do it all on this system.

When the Wii launched, we saw tons of shortages. I couldn't get one for about a month. Are you anticipating a similar situation?

I think we're obviously hoping for a similar situation. Any time that there is that much demand, it means people want the product. It's tough to say right now. The sense that we're getting is that there is a lot of demand for the system. As we did with Wii, we're trying to manufacture them as fast as we can and bring them to market as fast as we can so we don't have any shortages. But, back on the Wii, I think the volume for that system was unprecedented. So it's tough to use that as a barometer. We're going to do everything we can to make it as fast as we can.

Today is just the beginning. You're launching in North America today and then Europe and Australia later in the month before Japan in December. How are you approaching those regions?. The same way or differently in terms of launch plans?

Each individual market tends to take their own approach with launch. And I think you're seeing that to a certain degree with some of the advertising that came out in the United Kingdom versus the advertising that came out [in North America]. And now we're seeing the ads in Japan; and Japan has a different approach as well. So the markets are different; and the consumers in each market, they're different.

Can you talk about the 12-month roadmap for Wii U, generally?

I haven't thought about it a whole lot. We've been focused on launch, obviously, and just trying to get through today.

There's no vision?

Oh, I wouldn't say that. The first question is how does it feel? And it feels great to be launching [Wii U] today. But on the other hand, I know that come November 19, it's not like I'm going to have nothing to do (laughs).

We were talking earlier; it's kind of like the finishing line and the start…

It is. And the other night [Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime] described it as mile 14 of a marathon. You feel great about getting there, but there's still a lot to do. Obviously, E3 is going to be coming and that'll be sort of our next opportunity to go into a lot of detail on what's going to come after E3. Between now and then, you can probably surprise people with a Nintendo Direct here or there. In terms of the near-term vision, first and foremost we had the realization that we needed to make sure that we've got a steady stream of content coming not just at launch, but also right after launch to keep people engaged and to keep people interested in the system.

Is part of that picture more 3DS/Wii U interoperability? That's something we talked about in September and there wasn't a lot to say on that. So I'm wondering if there's an update there?

Well there will be in March; Capcom will be releasing Monster Hunter 3 and that will be the first game that has that interoperability. Mr. Sakurai is working with Bandai Namco on Smash Bros. and that's another game that's been announced as having the 3DS-to-Wii U interoperability. I'd suspect that there will probably be more examples coming, and hopefully we'll tell a little bit more of that this year at E3.

The Wii still has potential, Trinen says.

Is there still a market for the Wii? Are you guys going to continue to support it?

Wii itself is really interesting because there are so many people who have that system and know what that system is that there's still a lot of opportunity for software sales on Wii. A lot of that consumer is somebody who is looking for…good games. So whether it's things like Nintendo Selects or a lot of the users also are still using their Wii to deliver Netflix content. I think there's also the potential for a lot of people who still haven't purchased Wii, believe it or not, who might be interested at the right price. So we'll probably be looking at it more from that standpoint.

Is Nintendo developing internally any Wii games? Are there any projects in the pipeline?

No, there are not right now.

Another big topic today is expansions and add-on content; season passes. And Nintendo has done none of that. Is this an area you want to get into? Can you talk about the reasons why you're not a player?

"As time goes on, I think we're starting to really look into how can we try to extend the gameplay experience for people both on the 3DS and probably in the future on Wii U as well with additional download packs."

We look at it from a couple different perspectives. New Super Mario Bros 2 was our first foray into add-on content with the downloadable packs for that game, and we'll continue to support that. Fire Emblem for the Nintendo 3DS is another game that in Japan has launched and has downloadable content. And we'll also be bringing that game to North America next year. Separate from that, we have done actually a fair amount of non-paid downloadable add-ons. Whether it's things like Professor Layton games where you can download additional puzzles. So we look at it in terms of what makes for an individual game. But gradually as time goes on, I think we're starting to really look into how can we try to extend the gameplay experience for people both on the 3DS and probably in the future on Wii U as well with additional download packs.

If someone were to pick up a copy of Call of Duty Black Ops II, if they get it for Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 or PC, they can get all the extra content. And if that's not going to be in the question for the Wii U version, then I can't see why you would want the Wii U version.

I can't say for certain what [Activision] is offering.

The Wii dominated last gen. It sold more than 20 million units more than the Xbox 360 or PS3. Can you talk about what happens if the Wii U is not a huge success? What do you think the stakes are?

From my perspective, I look at Wii U and to me, it's less about specifically how many individual units are we selling. And really it's more about how are people that have the system reacting to it. Similar to how when people first brought the Wii home and played Wii Sports and they got a sense for what that motion control felt like, and they shared that with other people. That was really what helped build the momentum for Wii. Similarly, I think as people bring Wii U home, to me, what's really important is that they are able to interact with everything that the system has to offer and get a real sense for how it's changing what's going on in the living room. Because that, to me, is a real opportunity to try to maintain that momentum.

For more on the Wii U launch event, check out GameSpot's photo feature.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

248 comments
SeannTHEsheep
SeannTHEsheep

i love it when developers sing their own praises saying their game is so amazing it wont run on a certain console cuz its just so amazing and supperior it requires a high cpu.  omg AMY isnt coming to Wii-U either.  no offense but you can keep it.  

SeannTHEsheep
SeannTHEsheep

you can plug ANY PC external hardrive into wii-u .  8gb model with 5gb day 1 patch.  problem solved.  ill just plug a 1tb into mine when i get it on 30th.

SeannTHEsheep
SeannTHEsheep

i love this

 

Is Nintendo developing internally any Wii games? Are there any projects in the pipeline?

No, there are not right now.

 

 

so basically the same is gonna happen to wii like the game cube.  nintendo say bye bye and say if you want new games you gotta buy our new console 

 

guitarguy3349
guitarguy3349

I hate you Wii U owners...... Because I dont have one... I really want one. Gotta save money and buy. Wanna play rayman legends and zombiu and nintendo land and new super mario bros. u. I feel left out

King_Dodongo
King_Dodongo

The WiiU rules, I don't know why GS is so biased. Almost every launch is faulty.

huntercal
huntercal

Last Generation I bought all three consoles.  only turn on my Wii to play Zelda and Mario, I play most of my games on 360 and use my PS3 for MGS 4, Uncharted 2&3 and watch Blu Rays. This coming generation I will buy all three consoles. Only turn on my Wii U to play Zelda and Mario, play most of my games on the NEXTBOX and use my PS4 to watch movies and play Uncharted and MGS. 

 

What's with all the haters, don't pick sides, it ain't a football team, you can choose them all, or leave one out if it's not for you. Just get over all this garbage, if you don't like the Wii U just don't buy it.

kingotnw
kingotnw

I got a Wii U day 1 and I love it. I also have all sorts of other systems. My wife is in love with her 3DS, and Nintendo's strong attention to that system really convinced me to buy a WiiU on release day. Very glad I did. Say what you will about their 3rd party issues last gen, but Nintendo is about as committed to quality as a company can be, and I have all the faith in the world that my WiiU is going to be used every day for years to come.

Takeno456
Takeno456

I am excited for the Wii U but I will have to wait and see how it develops over time before I get one. One thing I still can't figure out why there is this torrent of console wars/Nintendo hate going on. I mean yeah a majority of people hate the Wii U and Nintendo I get it. Its obviously not going to be a powerful as the PS4 or the new XBOX will be so I think it will be like last gen where Nintendo is kind of in its own zone and Sony and Microsoft duke it out. I just find the random bickering and blind hate to be kind of unwarranted and a bit discouraging because it is so early in the systems life cycle and it is not really upsetting the current console balance so what does it hurt? Personally I am going to reserve judgement until I have messed around with it for a good period of time. 

theKSMM
theKSMM

What is the correct plural form of "Wii U?"

SurlyPotato
SurlyPotato

I don't understand why people keep promoting Nintendo on the grounds of game play and innovation.What I see from Nintendo  is rehash of the same games over and over again... I mean how many times do I want to play updated games of Metroid, Star Fox, Smash Bros, Mario Kart etc...

Furwings
Furwings

They can announce all the cool, unique features and 3DS connectivity they want, but what they REALLY need to have lined up for this year's E3 are the HD versions of games everyone's been waiting an entire console-cycle too long for! Zelda, Metroid, Star Fox, Smash Bros, Mario Kart and more.

 

With $ony and Micro$oft most likely showing off their much more powerful next-gen systems at E3, the only thing Nintendo can do to take some of the wind out of their sails is to announce/tease/show next-gen versions of their most beloved and important franchises.

 

nonfanboygamer1
nonfanboygamer1

It was kinda stupid of Nintendo to release a console when all the advertised features are not yet operable

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

The Wii U is awesome, and truly a huge leap over the Wii. There are so many possibilities for the system, and I REALLY hope it catches on. I am so glad I stood in line for 9 hours to get one of my own! The system is really impressive, and we're just at the beginning.

Vickman178
Vickman178

Got my Wii U...MiiVerse is.... FREAKING AWESOME!!

AngelCage-2
AngelCage-2

When will nintendo launch the Wii-U Tablet Plus Controller??????

Andrew1073
Andrew1073

I feel the biggest disappointment right now is the virtual console, and old wii games, not being able to be played on the gamepad...which was the biggest selling feature.  As they update these old VC games to be played on the gamepad they better not expect the people that have already spent money on these games to re-spend their cash.  I hope they offer some kind of $1 per game to upgrade to the Wii U version of these VC games.I just want to play Final Fantasy 3 and Super Mario World on the can!

franzito
franzito

The first time I tasted HD on PS3 it blew my mind! I've been considering buying a Wii U thanks to HD and Internet connection but... that means I'd sell my Wii and keep my GC, since Wii U doesn't support GC games. That settles another dilemma: since I have few GC games, I might as well sell my GC too with these games and download them through Wii U, right? *I'm confused* about this Nintendo next gen console, although it feels nice.

Oxo_64
Oxo_64

After watching Giant Bomb's livestream I can't say I'm impressed.

From the questionable stability of the system (easily bricked, lockups and frezzing a common place) to the less than impressive launch titles, most of which have major frame rate issues and of course, the icing on this rancid cake: Nintendo Network IDs, bound to the console they are created on. It's mind boggling that a company can't get their head around an online account system especially in this day and age.

 

Is this really Nintendo's attempt at catering to the "core gamer"? It's laughable. They should just stick to handhelds.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

I'm very unsure. I have my pre-order intact and I won't cancel it considering what an amazing deal I got. But I might pop it on eBay instead of opening it. I think it might be a great console one day, but right now it just feels like a bit of a disappointment. 

 

None of the games seem to have any "wow" factor, and I was expecting the console to have all of its features up and running from the get go, and for the UI to be fast and seamless. The whole thing feels like a Bethesda game; unfinished and buggy.

Ciscod1
Ciscod1

@SeannTHEsheep really.... You really don't know that Nintendo is developing games as we post on this wall...really..... That's just unbelievably funny......Nintendo is Constantly developing games for their systems....in fact as far as first party console developers. They are the Best at Consistently developing high quality games..... Try doing some actual research , and look at history.... nintendo is a first class game developer !!! And yes I own Every home console.... In fact I own most every home console since Atari 2600.... Along and tons of games.... So I am not a "fanboy ". ... I appreciate every company that adds to the gaming scene .... Fanboys are a blight on our community... They don't add to the conversation, they hold it back !!! I am not a first person fan..." They make me physically sick.... But I don't bash them, because I know that others love them... They are just not for me.....so I don't make anti 1st person comments ( like fanboys do, against other systems, and games ).... If you can't understand or like a genre or system...stay out of the conversation... You are not adding anything ....

guitarguy3349
guitarguy3349

 @King_Dodongo it's because they are stuck in the last gen and are still trolling nintendo for the wii's/WiiU's cons. And its also because the wiiu isnt going to be as powerful as the ps4/nextbox. I like all consoles though. Idc about getting involved in the gaming wars as i just like to have fun. I have more important things to do than post every comment that comes up in my mind when i have a life outside of gaming/internet society.

I just hope the wiiu gets better 3rd party games than the wii got. I know there is always gonna be quality 1st and 2nd party games on nintendo console's. I think the wii's 3rd party games could have been better if they were better inspired and so lazily put together. Part of the wii's 3rd party problems are the develepors fault and not just because of the weak hardware.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @emptycow 

You're so dedicated in trash talking Nintendo it's quite amazing, like what do you do on your spare time, dig up more evidence to make Nintendo look bad? 

96augment
96augment

 @emptycow  A lot of people who bough the Wii bought it for games like Mario and Legend of Zelda. Those same people will buy the Wii U for the same reason.

bgghgubcjhgknjk
bgghgubcjhgknjk

 @SurlyPotato If people enjoy them every time then why not do that? They also come out with new series every now and then like Pikmin and Steeldiver, it's already been stated though that Miyamoto is currently working on a new Nintendo IP so that's another series to look forward to

bgghgubcjhgknjk
bgghgubcjhgknjk

 @nonfanboygamer1 Oh like the PS3? or maybe the PS2? or maybe the Vita? It's not new and at least they're releasing the final feature less then a month after launch

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @Vickman178 

I know! But I have no followers or friends yet, makes me a sad moose T_T

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

 @Andrew1073 What pisses me off is that they expect us to buy the games we bought on the Wii's Virtual Console, again on the 3DS's Virtual Console. If they expect us to buy them AGAIN for Wii U then I am going to be pretty mad. Plus, as you say, they should be playable on the gamepad. It is hardly a challenge for them to incorporate such a feature, so, as with the rest of this launch, I put it down to sloppy workmanship. 

bgghgubcjhgknjk
bgghgubcjhgknjk

 @franzito as they've said before there will be GC games on the virtual console which makes me happy

snaketus
snaketus

 @franzito Why peope are expecting support for old on the new consoles. Like you can play snes on gamecube or something. If you want to play your old games, play them with your old hardware.

theKSMM
theKSMM

 @Oxo_64 These type of issues don't really concern me on complex modern electronics...most of them will be ironed out with updates to the firmware. Unless your device is made by Sony, in which case they'll probably remove features with each update.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

 @Oxo_64 As a core gamer who was looking forward to the console, I can safely say that I am not impressed with Nintendo's sloppy efforts to win us back so far.

King_Dodongo
King_Dodongo

 @guitarguy3349 I'm sure the Wii had the worst Nintendo library (even with it's gems) , no way Wii U isn't going to get way more support. In fact I'd say that they're in a perfect position. because they are pressuring the others into launching their next consoles, and at the same time when the other launches get it the costs will greatly rise, making the WIi U more appealing. Not to mention Japan is Nintendo-country right now. 

Lamesy
Lamesy

 @GreenReubenVC games don't need any particular sort of OS. They are literally straight up ROMs with no added or custom code. Anything that can run an emulator, can run those game files.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @kavadias1981  @Oxo_64 

The bricking is not Nintendo's fault, it only occurs if the person idiotically turns off the system while it's doing the system update, and anyone with a computer should know that you could screw things up if you do, especially since Windows has this wonderful reminder saying "Updating, do not turn off power." 

 

Lack luster launch titles has been typical of pretty much every major system since the PS2, nothing new and it should be held against the Wii U, although the line up of games to come is pretty strong, and the eShop has some great looking titles already. 

 

The framerate issues, again, is not the Wii U's fault, it's the developer's fault since those same games that were on the 360/PS3 also had framerate issues. 

 

As for the Nintendo Network ID, sure it sucks right now but understand that they're building this network from scratch and are still making improvements. 

 

I love how you people expect companies to get everything right immediately, that's unrealistic, especially considering all the patches and updates the PS3/360 went through before they became fully optimized, expect the same out of the Wii U and whatever Sony/Microsoft come out next.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

 @abHS4L88 :D You'll have me as one at some point. I just feel let down by Nintendo. Not as a Nintendo fan, which I'm not, but as a man who loves new consoles.

 

They hyped all the wonderful things that their console could do, the amazing features, the 2BG RAM, the 1080p 60fps, the ease of use. Yet none of these things seem to be living up to my expectations. And it's not like they were high either. I just expected everything to be working seamlessly right out of the box.

 

I have no doubts that they will get there eventually. But if they were going to release the console in an unfinished state with not even the correct firmware installed, then they should have held off the launch day instead of shafting the early adopters like this.   

UnwantedSpam
UnwantedSpam

 @abHS4L88  @kavadias1981 I'll be your Miiverse buddy, Swapnote buddy!! :O 

 

As soon as I move up on GameStop's waiting list or through a sheer miracle of chance ;-;

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @emptycow 

Wow, that's barely less than the 4 GB 360! 

 

And yet they're the only company that doesn't push proprietary formats onto their customers. 

Andrew1073
Andrew1073

 @bgghgubcjhgknjk  @kavadias1981 But you are glossing over our point.  WHEN they have more games available for the Wii U and I guess the 3DS, they better not make us buy these games again that we have already paid for.  I understand we can play them on the Wii U in this Wii mode, but I WANT TO PLAY SECRET OF MANA ON THE GAMEPAD. 

 

1. They better allow us to play these 8 bit games on the game pad.

 

2.  If/when they do, give us a cheaper option to bring our already bought games onto the gamepad.

 

 

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

 @bgghgubcjhgknjk It's not that. Obviously we can still access our transferred VC content when entering Wii mode. What irritates me is that should a classic game become available on the Wii U eshop and say, comes with the option to play it on the gamepad at some point, then we have to buy the exact same game again. The same goes for the 3DS eshop. I already own The LoZ on VC so why should I have to pay for the exact same game again for 3DS? 

 

On the PSN if I buy a classic game, I can play it on my PS3, PSP or Vita. Nintendo are just screwing us over. 

96augment
96augment

 @emptycow    Why do you keep talking about Metro: Last Light not coming to the Wii U? Does it bother you that much?  It's just one game.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

 @abHS4L88  @UnwantedSpam Patience my friends, soon I shall mingle alongside you. Maybe in a couple of weeks, maybe months, but I just need to see what Nintendo is doing to fix their console between now and mine arriving :)

 

That is the deciding factor. 

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @UnwantedSpam  @kavadias1981 

Yay, I feel so lonely and my sister is rubbing it in that she has a follower and I don't DX.

 

I guess I have to make more artwork to get noticed!