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Reggie advocated for Wii Sports as a pack-in, Iwata and Miyamoto were initially against it

Posted on May 3, 2022 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Wii

wii sports pack in

Wii Sports was included as a pack-in with most Wii systems as part of its initial launch. You can thank former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime for that.

It turns out that Reggie made a big push for the pack-in idea, but faced significant pushback. Initially, both Satoru Iwata – Nintendo’s late global CEO – and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto were against it. Both eventually came around, but not without some convincing. 

Before signing off on the idea, Miyamoto would later propose making Wii Play the pack-in. That led Reggie to suggest having a different bundle that would feature Wii Play alongside a Wii Remote.

Here’s the full backstory as revealed in Reggie’s new book:

“I advocated packing Wii Sports with Wii so that every consumer would get access to this great content. After I made this suggestion, Mr. Iwata paused long enough for me to notice the faint buzz of the incandescent lighting in his office, and get uncomfortable. ‘Reggie,’ Mr. Iwata said. ‘Nintendo does not give away precious content for free. We work hard to create special experiences. It is unique software that motivates consumers to buy our hardware, and we expect to sell these games over extended periods of time. No, we should not pack in Wii Sports.’

‘Mr. Iwata, I understand the value of our software. I know unique software has always differentiated Nintendo. But we know that Wii is a very different concept in the history of video games. Wii focuses on unique gameplay. The goal of Wii is to expand gaming from its current niche to a mass market medium. Wii Sports has the power to do this. Wii Sports can be a unifying element for all players of the system, and be a key motivation for people to buy the system and have fun immediately. Plus Mr. Iwata, I know Nintendo has history using packed-in software to drive a system.’ I knew this from personal experience as I had bought my Super Nintendo Entertainment System with a bundle that included Super Mario World.

This was just the opening discussion on a topic that would last months. Even after convincing Mr. Iwata that this was the right approach, I would also need to get Mr. Miyamoto – as the head of all game development – to agree. I knew I was making progress when I was shown a new game on a trip to Kyoto in July 2006.

‘Reggie, we understand your point about having a strong software title included with Wii during its launch,’ Mr. Miyamoto stated via a translator during a meeting with Mr. Iwata and Mike Fukuda. ‘Please, took a look at this game that we are proposing to use for your idea instead of Wii Sports.’ The development team proceeded to show me an early version of Wii Play.

… ‘Mr. Miyamoto, these individual mini-games are fun. I can see how the development teams have added more polish to the experiences we had earlier at E3. And they make excellent use of the Wii Remote,’ I said. ‘However, this doesn’t feel to be the same complete experience that Wii Sports is. I don’t feel including this would have the same impact as including Wii Sports. In fact, I have a different idea. Maybe instead of including this with Wii hardware, we should take this mini-game collection and include it with a Wii Remote to encourage additional sales of this accessory.’ The room was quiet for at least 15 seconds. Mike Fukuda jumped in, speaking in Japanese. I watched Mr. Iwata’s and Mr. Miyamoto’s faces and then heard the translation into English. ‘Reggie is right. Wii Sports does a much better job to achieve our objective of getting consumers to understand Wii immediately, and this mini-game collection is not a fully-formed game that will command full price in our market. We should think about how to best use this software to achieve our objectives. Including this with the Wii Remote accessory is unconventional, but it would get more Wii Remotes in the hands of our consumers.’

So Mike and I were trying to get agreement to two different bundles, and the world’s best game designer was not happy. The ever-present smile and impish squint of My Miyamoto’s eyes were gone. ‘Neither of you understands the challenges of creating software that people love to play. This is something we constantly push ourselves to do. We do not give away our software,’ Mr. Miyamoto stated.

Mr. Iwata, however, was already sparking to our ideas. ‘Miyamoto-san, I’m sure that Fukuda-san and Reggie-san appreciate the effort of the developers. They are trying to solve for a different situation than ours in Japan.’ He went on to explain the market conditions we faced in the context of different game genres that performed well in the west versus Japan. He also explained how Microsoft’s Xbox 360 had just launched in 2005 and was doing well in western markets. Clearly, our push to educate executives at NCL on our business needs was taking root.

We did not gain an agreement during this meeting, or the many others that followed. But we did eventually get Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Iwata to agree to have Wii Sports packed in for all the western markets. They decided to sell Wii Sports as standalone software in Japan.”

There’s no question that Wii Sports was a massive success for Nintendo. When many people think of Wii, that game is one of the first that comes to mind. Nintendo has confirmed that Wii Sports has sold nearly 83 million copies worldwide. 

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