Fils-Aime sounds off on Wii woes

Nintendo exec says software-production bottleneck is being addressed; Wii manufacturing at "unheard-of level" to meet shortages.

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It's an indelible argument that Nintendo has scored a massive hit with the Wii. Besides being wildly popular, the console has attracted many third-party publishers with its low development costs and large installed base. And though attention has been paid to the plight of consumers in their vein attempts to find Nintendo's scarce console, it appears that publishers are having their own problems manufacturing enough games for the console.

Speaking at a BMO Capital Markets investors conference yesterday, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime stated that manufacturers have become overwhelmed by the rise in software production. "As every publisher talks about shifting over to Wii, it's creating this crush of production right now at factories for our software," he said.

However, the outspoken exec also assured investors that the problem is temporary. "What we've done is to ramp that capacity and work with publishers to make sure their best titles get into the marketplace and have a productive holiday," he continued. "This is a very short-term situation that's effectively going to be resolved in the course of three weeks' time."

Although publishers have apparently been hamstrung by production backups, at issue for most consumers has been shortages of the Wii itself. In October, Fils-Aime unabashedly admitted that Wii shortages will definitely continue through the holiday season. However, he stated at yesterday's conference that Nintendo remains diligent about keeping consoles flowing in the retail channel.

"Two weeks ago when our half-yearly financials were announced, we upped the [worldwide shipment target of Wiis] again to 17.5 million," he said. "Since then, we've increased production capacities to 1.8 million systems a month. This is an unheard-of level of production for a gaming system. Clearly, we're taking consumer scarcity seriously."

At the same conference, Reggie also addressed the "box" Sony and Microsoft have placed themselves in due to their focus on expensive-to-produce hardware and equally costly-to-create software. "How they'll get out of it is a challenge," he opined. "Likely creating casual content for those systems won't work, not only because the ease of play won't be there, but the consumer won't be there. I don't think a consumer paying $600 for Sony's systems [in addition to] software and accessories is the same consumer who wants to play a more casual type of product. They have a significant strategic conundrum and one that won't be easy to resolve."

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