Reggie talks Wii online, marketing

Nintendo's outspoken president reiterates Wii will be ready to go out-of-the-box; online play free, no hidden costs.

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Nintendo of America's president and COO, Reggie Fils-Aime, has won over diehard Nintendo fans ever since his spirited speech at 2004's E3. As the company gears up for the launch of the Wii, the Nintendo faithful's hopes hang on the man's every word.

Reggie Fils-Aime.
Reggie Fils-Aime.

Fils-Aime recently spoke with USA Today about the console, its launch, and Nintendo's strategy going forward. Though little new was revealed, his words maintain that Nintendo is staying its course.

After a brief spiel very familiar to gamers that the company is trying to rope in "nongamers" to expand the market, Reggie chatted about online play, which many believe Nintendo is catching up on.

"We view online gaming as essentially an enhanced way to enjoy the gaming experience and drive more sales of hardware and software," he said.

Fils-Aime also moved to quash any lingering doubts as to whether first-title online gameplay for the Wii would be free. "We will offer online-enabled games that the consumers will not have to pay a subscription fee for. They'll be able to enjoy that right out of the box. The Wii console is going to be Wi-Fi enabled, so essentially, you'll be able to plug it in and go. It won't have hidden fees or costs," he told the paper.

It should be noted, however, that Nintendo has not officially announced any pricing for its online service, other than that connecting to WiiConnect24 will be free. As for paying for online gaming on the Wii, à la Microsoft's Xbox Live service, Fils-Aime's comments seem to imply that the feature will also be gratis.

Fils-Aime also fed rumor flames that the Wii will undergo a major tour that will let gamers personally try out the Wii--in keeping with the console's E3 motto that "playing is believing."

While talking about the marketing plan for what could be the company's biggest product launch, he said, "It's going to be massive amounts of hands-on activity, as well as showcasing exactly how Wii games are different. We're going to create advocacy. We're going to make it so that everyone who tries the Wii experience talks to their friends and neighbors."

While other Nintendo execs have shied away from the idea that the Wii is directly going up against the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Fils-Aime acknowledges that Sony and Microsoft are competitors. However, he does admit that Nintendo is doing something different.

"Our competitors are both going down the same path. Both believe that more and more performance with a higher and higher price tag are their keys to success. So what do I see? I think our two competitors will trade share between them, while we go off and grab share in a completely different way."

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