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What Nintendo needs to do better with NX

Reggie Fils-Aime identifies "traditional lessons" the company took from the Wii U's struggles

As Nintendo prepares to launch the NX next March, it will look to avoid the missteps of its previous console effort, the Wii U. Speaking with [a]listdaily at E3 in a just-published interview, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime laid out what worked with its last console, as well as mistakes the company needs to learn from for the NX.

Fils-Aime defended the fundamental hook of the Wii U, saying "the innovation of the second screen was a worthwhile concept." He also stood by the system's lineup of exclusive games, saying they compared favorably to the exclusive offerings from Microsoft and Sony. However, he acknowledged not everything about Wii U worked.

"One of the things that we have to do better when we launch the NX--we have to do a better job communicating the positioning for the product," Fils-Aime said. "We have to do a better job helping people to understand its uniqueness and what that means for the game playing experience. And we have to do a better job from a software planning standpoint to have that continuous beat of great new games that are motivating more and more people to pick up the hardware and more and more people to pick up the software. Those are the critical lessons. And as I verbalize them, they're really traditional lessons within the industry. You have to make sure people understand the concept, you have to make sure you've got a great library of games, and when you do that, you tend to do well."

It's no wonder Fils-Aime calls them "traditional lessons," as they're fundamentally similar to ones Nintendo took away from previous platform launches. In fact, the failure to help people understand the unique value add of a system's new innovation should have been fresh in the company's memory when it launched the Wii U in 2012, considering it was one of the big lessons from the 3DS' rocky launch the year before.

As Nintendo's Satoru Iwata told investors in 2011, "[A]s a result of analysis of the situation after the launch, it has become clear that we need to do a lot more to convey the value to consumers."

Going back a little further, Nintendo identified proper software planning to avoid lulls in the release schedule as one of the key learnings from the GameCube. Prior to the Wii's debut in 2006, Nintendo of America senior VP George Harrison stressed the importance off steady software support to a system's reputation.

"You've got to deliver software, not just at launch, but you've got to deliver software in the first six to nine months after launch," Harrison said. "In GameCube, we didn't have that, we had kind of a drought for six months after it launched. By that time your reputation starts to solidify and it's hard to reverse that after awhile."

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Brendan Sinclair avatar

Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.