GameDaily recently published a full transcript of the interview that they conducted with Nintendo of America’s George Harrison at the recent E3 Media & Business Summit. Much of what was spoken, we already knew about, but the marketing honcho did reveal a few choice snippets of information with regards to hardware revisions for Nintendo platforms.
Harrison kept his cards close to his chest in relation to hardware changes to the Wii, but speaking of the transitions made by the Game Boy and Nintendo DS, perhaps he was hinting that a new version of the Wii might emerge before the “fixed, sequential pattern almost every five to six years” normally afforded to the lifespan of a home console.
BIZ: I interviewed Perrin during D.I.C.E. and we talked a bit about how Nintendo likes to revise its handhelds. I asked her if this revision model was applicable to console hardware like the Wii as well, and she said, “Sure. You’ll see the ways in which we do that.” That seemed like a strong hint that Nintendo will revise the current Wii hardware. Is a new model planned?
GH: It’s interesting, console hardware has always historically been on a sort of fixed, sequential pattern almost every five to six years and it takes you about five years to develop a new piece of console hardware. The handhelds and portables, like Game Boy and now DS, we’ve always been continuously innovating, and whenever we feel like it’s time or have an upgrade, we’ll do it, whether it’s an improved screen for the handheld or slimmed down like the DS Lite – those types of things. So it’s not out of the question on Wii, but we’re not even to our second holiday yet, so it’s kind of premature to talk about any revisions to the hardware itself.
On the subject of ever bringing back the Game Boy brand, Harrison explained that it was a big risk to move away from it in the first place to the Nintendo DS. And we reckon, given the success of the dual-screened behemoth, Nintendo has shifted the industry forward to a point where returning to the Game Boy brand name might just look a clumsy, backwards step. However, he didn’t rule out the question of an independent party taking the name on in future.
BIZ: At one point, Nintendo referred to the DS as a “third pillar” and I think it’s actually been a while since it’s used that term, but there’s been so much focus on the DS since it’s been so phenomenally successful that it sort of makes us forget about the Game Boy. What I’d like to know is: what’s Nintendo’s strategy with those separate product lines? Is there a strategy to bring Game Boy back and still have the DS when you finally do bring the next version out? How do you balance those product lines?
GH: The Game Boy Advance as it exists today, like any platform, really survives based on the software and as developers begin to move their new software efforts away from the Game Boy and move it over to DS, fewer titles come out. So this year in our marketing, you really won’t see much push in against Game Boy itself, so it will seek its own level. It’s hard to say whether in the future we would ever bring back the Game Boy trademark. It was a big risk for us to actually pass on it and call the new product Nintendo DS, but it was part of Mr. Iwata’s philosophy that if we’re going to make a radical difference and try to reach a new audience we have to change the name. Obviously, we got a lot more radical when we chose Wii for a name, but we felt like if you had always thought video games were not for you and we named it the new Game Boy DS, you still would have not considered it. So we had to make a break, even though we had one of the greatest trademarks in the history of the industry.
BIZ: So you’re saying there actually is the possibility that name has been retired, so to speak?
GH: Well, we only control the name, so the only question will be if there’s a good, independent idea outside of Nintendo DS to use it.
Head over to GameDaily for the full interview.