This Monday 30-10-2006 NiSuTe went to Nintendo Benelux.
We were invited to play exclusively on the new console NintendoWii before it hits the shops in Europe on the 8th of December.
Of course the NiSuTe members did not hesitate to go there. Some of us are sceptical about Nintendo's new console and it's revolutionary controller,
so we wanted to try it out for ourselves. Together Maikel, Pascal, Kenneth and I went to the Nintendo office in Nieuwegein.
Nintendo had invited several press people from magazines and websites.
There were several demo pods of the Wii, with games such as Wii Sports, Wii Play, Wario Ware, Monkey Ball and the big title Zelda, The Twilight Princess.
The people of the Nintendo staff were very nice and gave a good explanation of the Wii remote and nunchuk controls.
Everyone of us wanted to play Zelda. The demo-time was a little too short to find out whether the new controls of the Wii work for this game.
And of course we would have loved to play this game a little longer.
After playing on the Wii all afternoon, Maikel had an interview with Bianca Stirnweis-van Dort, PR & Product Manager at Nintendo Benelux.
Maikel: Hello, Bianca, thank you for inviting us. It was nice to get the opportunity to play on the Wii. I have a few questions for you.
We just had the chance to play some games on the Wii, but what I want to know is, what is your opinion on the Wii?
Bianca: My personal opinion on the Wii? Well, I think itís a very nice product. Because of the different way of controls you are drawn into the game more directly.
To be honest I am not a very fanatical gamer myself. I enjoy playing puzzle games.
So I like these sorts of games more. To be able to play golf en tennis in this way is awesome.
Itís really nice to be able to create these games in this way.
Maikel: Do you think the Wii will attract the same target group as the Nintendo DS?
Bianca: With the Nintendo DS we reached a different target group, by introducing Brain Training.
A target group that normally wouldnít play videogames. With the Wii we want to try to do the same thing. And I certainly think the potential is there.
Maikel: Your goal is to reach the non-gamers. The older people who have never played games or have played and stopped playing videogames, but also females.
Do you really think you can reach this target group with this product?
Bianca: We have two different target groups. First of all, the gamers, the people who have always been playing Nintendo. We want to keep this target group and will continue to develop games for them, such as Zelda and Metroid. We donít expect to reach a new target group with these games.
But the non-gamers, the people who have never played videogames before, and also people that used to play and have lost interest, we think they might be attracted by the Wii and games such as Wii Sports and Wii Play.
Wario Ware is in this same category. A game that is in development right now is Big Brain Academy, which was previously released on the Nintendo DS. We know for sure this game reached a different target group. I think this will move us in the right direction.
Maikel: Donít you think the Wii remote and nunchuk will be more difficult to control for these non-gamers?
Bianca: No, it will be easier for them. The Gamecube controller had a lot of buttons and made use of various button combinations. Research has learned that this discouraged people to start playing videogames, because they think itís too complex to learn these controls.
Of course with a game such as Zelda you still have to push a lot of buttons.
But with a game like Wii sports you donít push any button at all; itís all about the movements you make.
Maikel: Considering this is a totally new product. Did you change much of your marketing plan compared to the marketing of the Nintendo Gamecube? Or did certain essential things remain the same?
Bianca: Of course the approach is totally different, itís a different product and the communication will be different. We already have a marketing strategy to reach gamers in general. The internet is an important medium and we will certainly use that to reach this target group. But to attract the non-gamers, which was not our goal with the Nintendo Gamecube, we need to use a different marketing strategy.
Maikel: The distribution of this product in the Benelux doesnít seem like an easy task. Can you explain in a few words how you do this?
Bianca: The Benelux is difficult because a country such as Belgium has two languages, French and Dutch. Actually it has three languages, because the German language is used in small regions. Also Luxembourg speaks German. So that is sometimes tough, but we know this and through experience we know how to handle this. Also the Benelux is an easily accessible market.
And if you look at the sales, we do sell really well in this region compared to the rest of Europe.
Maikel: Is it a difficult task for you, because the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have the most crowded population, does it put more pressure on you?
Bianca: No, I donít think the pressure is higher here than in other countries. England and Germany have a much bigger population compared to the Benelux. I think every country in terms of trying to reach goals and getting market shares are achieving what they aim for. We are no different from them; we do the same thing and have the same strategy.
Maikel: Nowadays popular phrases are used in the media, aimed at young people. This would not seem right for you, you might miss the target group you are aiming for; I mean the older people.
What do you think has to be changed in the media to improve your message?
Bianca: This is a task for us, to begin with. We are the ones who determine the terminology and the media will have to use this.
What you see now with the Wii, is that we are obviously choosing for an input such as accessibility and a terminology that is understandable in words for everyone.
So we won't talk about a Wii remote or videogame but we will use the exact Dutch translation of these words. You will also see this in the game guides.
Therein lies a really important task for us towards the media that we use the right terminology and that they copy it from us.
Maikel:In the Benelux Sony holds a big position in the games industry. How do you plan to make a turn in this with the Wii?
Bianca: The most important thing is to reach a target group that is not playing games at this moment. Sony is trying to do that and they have succeeded in a certain way.
But I think they only reached a group of young people with a game such as Singstar, to name an example.
Next to it is a group of people over 30 that does not play any videogames. That is the target group that we as Nintendo would like to attract.
The average Nintendo player is 18 years old.
Maikel: There are several multiplayer games on the Nintendo Gamecube. Will we see four player games on the Wii that have online possibilities?
Bianca: Yes, the possibility is there. Multiplayer games on the Wii will have an important role.
The Wii is supposed to be the console that is in the living room and that every member of the family uses, both the young ones and the old ones.
It should be fun to play on a Sunday afternoon. For instance, when your grandma visits you, you can play tennis with her on the Wii.
This is fun with four players. And the other fun possibility of multiplayer is that you and a friend that lives in another city or maybe a different country can play together online.
Maikel: What makes working with Nintendo fun for you?
Bianca: The nice thing is the products and the fact that there are always new products. That makes it interesting.
If you work at a detergent manufacturer you might have a new product every two years, to name an example.
Here we constantly have new products. We have a very nice target group, mainly young people.
With Brain Training we approached a new target group, which was very interesting.
It was very nice to be able to have new experiences because of this. There are many things that make me enjoy this job.
Maikel: When you arrive home from work, do you feel like playing videogames? Or do you say to yourself, I have been around videogames all day long, I don't feel like playing.
Bianca: I have a lot of other hobbies and not have much spare time. So no I don't play videogames in my free time.
But I do play when I am on vacation or if I am travelling for work. Then I play Tetris, this is still my favourite game.
Maikel: Who is your idol in the games industry?
Bianca: I do not really have an idol in this industry. I do admire people that have achieved great things in this industry, I respect them.
I would not know how I could achieve those things. If I look within Nintendo, at what a status symbol mister Iwata and mister Miyamoto have become; these are special people and if you see how people react to them, particularly the fansÖ That is something very special.
Maikel: Maybe colleagues like Marco Hein?
Bianca: Yes, him too, colleagues that have been working a long time for Nintendo Europe and who have gained a certain status.
And my colleague Frank, who has been working for Nintendo Benelux for ten years now and has become well known in the business.
Maikel: Do you feel that you have learned much from working at Nintendo Benelux and what did you learn?
Bianca: Oh yes, a whole lot. I think I am still learning in this business. Like I just pointed out to you that we are always working with a target group of young people with our products.
And then suddenly we had to approach a target group of people over 30. This calls for a completely different approach and that's fun.
Maikel: When are we going to see the Wii commercials on television in the Netherlands?
Bianca: We will start previously to the release, so this will be at the end of November. We will first concentrate on online marketing and after that we will switch to television commercials.
The launch will be on the 8th of December and I think right after that it will also be an important moment to reach a wider audience.
The games available at launch will be Wii Sports, Wii Play and Zelda. Wii sports will be included with the Wii console, so you can start off right away when you buy the Wii. That's a nice thing for consumers. And Zelda is of course the game that lots of gamers have been waiting for.
Maikel interrupts: I think Zelda will be the most bought game with the Wii. I have heard from retailers that with almost every Wii reservation the consumer reserved a copy of Zelda, The Twilight Princess.
Bianca: I hope so and you may be right, because the ones that have reserved the Wii are the real gamers. They know that this game is coming, so this might be very likely.
Maikel: So, this was my interview, I hope you liked it?
Bianca: Yes, absolutely, there were some questions that differed from the usual.
Maikel: And that is what makes NiSuTe stand out from the rest out there.