Q&A: Nintendo's Rob Lowe on the UK launch
The event was "the biggest launch we've ever had," according to Lowe, who also reveals why the decision was made to region lock the Wii, and why Nintendo doesn't want to be just for kids anymore.
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Midnight on December 8 saw the first gamers in the UK being able to get their hands on a Nintendo Wii console. GameSpot spoke with Rob Lowe, Nintendo UK's product manager for home consoles, about the launch.
GameSpot: Do you think the Wii launch has been a success?
Rob Lowe: I think it's probably the biggest launch we've ever done, in my history at Nintendo. The DS launch was amazing, but I think this one here at HMV and the one down at Game is just incredible. The buzz is amazing.
GS: Do you think your approach of marketing consoles that appeal to everyone is paying off?
RL: I hope so. Time will tell. Obviously you've got the really hardcore Nintendo fans here from day one. They all seem really chuffed. I've noticed they all seem to be getting Zelda with it as well. But we hope in the long run, in the years to come, that we'll appeal to a much broader audience, get older people and female gamers in as well. I've been chatting to the Game guys down there, and they've said that one in 10 of the people there were girl gamers. That's good, you don't often see that at a launch day, so we're really chuffed about that.
GS: Do you think the future of consoles is the kind of "Swiss army knife" approach of the PS3 or just a dedicated game console?
RL: Obviously, being the Wii product manager, the latter. I think the key is trying to very much get as many people into gaming as possible, because if you've got the same people playing over and over you're only going to reach the same people over and over again. And even though they're great and they're our core audience, if we can appeal to a much broader audience, then that can only be good for the games industry, and the breadth of games that wouldn't normally be produced, like Brain Training [known as Brain Age in the US], Wii Sports. So yes, definitely, we think that's the future.
GS: Is Nintendo trying to lose the image that its products are just for kids?
RL: Definitely. We know that we appeal to children with our games, but we've always tried to be a company for everybody and especially with the Wii and the DS we've really tried to accentuate that. I think when you see something like Brain Training that appeals to 30-, 40-, 50-year-old people, obviously that's not kids playing that. So we very much want Nintendo to be as broad as possible.
GS: Why does Europe always have to wait until last with these launches?
RL: Oh come on, that's not fair! A week later than Japan and three weeks later than the US, that's not bad! I think you're asking the wrong games company [that question].
GS: Why was the decision made to region lock the Wii?
RL: Well, there were a number of reasons for that. Obviously in the UK you've got Wii Play coming out and in America they haven't got Wii Play--we try and cater for different audiences. We have to localise all of it in loads of different languages: America is just English and Japan is just Japanese, which is why it takes a little longer here. Also we always have specific software for specific regions, so we try to keep it that way. Obviously, it helps against game piracy as well. There are a number of reasons why. But I don't think it will be a problem, because a very, very small minority of people import games anyway.