Nintendo Says 3-D Safety Warnings "Not a Big Deal for Us"

Nintendo leveraged its first appearance at CES in 16 years to defend its position as it preps the upcoming release of its handeld 3-D game system.

In a brief appearance on CNBC, Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America president and COO, discussed three burning issues facing the Japanese game maker:

  • Nintendo’s 3-D ambitions (given warnings that children under the age of 6 shouldn’t be viewers).
  • Falling revenues for the past couple of years.
  • The threat of Microsoft’s very popular Kinect gaming accessory.

Fils-Aime explained that although retail sales have been on the decline since 2008, the business is cyclical: “There’s a lot of systems sold early on, and then later on it is driven by software–2008, 2009 and 2010 were fantastic software years, and that’s where the profit is made.”

In two weeks, Nintendo plans to show off the 3DS at a media event in New York City to demonstrate portable 3-D games that don’t require special glasses. However, it has warned that children under the age of 6 should not view the images because they could have an adverse effect on eyesight development.

How can it be a success when Nintendo’s core demographic can’t use it?

“I have to correct you on that,” Fils-Aime told CNBC host Julia Boorstin. “For Nintendo, the age segment is all consumers from 6 to 96. The fact that the younger consumers are not to view 3-D images is not a big deal for us, and you can manipulate the device to only have 2-D visuals shown, so it will cater to all consumers. The 2-D screen is dramatically better than our current DS.”

With the release of the Microsoft Kinect, which has now sold close to eight million devices, was it a mistake that Nintendo did not release a new version of Wii last year?

“We had the new version of the Wii, and it was red, and it did phenomenally well on a global basis as we celebrated Mario’s 25th anniversary. We give credit to Microsoft and what it has done for the industry. What’s good for them is good for all of us.”

In all, Nintendo said it has sold 47 million DS handheld devices since 2004, and 34 million Wiis in the U.S.

But how does Nintendo compete in an age of the iPad and competition from free Facebook games, like FarmVille?

Fils-Aime: “You win with great content. We have franchises, like Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong. All of this motivates people to buy the software, and what they are looking for is the in-depth, great experience.”

Here’s Fils-Aime’s CNBC interview at the Consumer Electronics Show:


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