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THE CHART TO THE right shows how the Japanese gaming population has shifted. The leftmost bar is May 2005 – around the time when Brain Trainingfor Nintendo DS was released. The rightmost bar is January 2010 – comparatively recent. We have gathered this data by conducting interviews continually with 3,000 people in Tokyo and Osaka. We have been investigating how many people play or do not play video games – and if an interviewee does play, which machine he or she plays. The blue portion shows the proportion of people who have played video game machines in the most recent year. It refers to the people who have played not only Nintendo’s machines, but all consoles and handhelds excluding phones and the like. The yellow represents people who used to play video games like NES or Game Boy, but have not played in the last year. The pink refers to people who have never played games in their lives. The goal of ‘gaming population expansion’ is to attract the people in the yellow portion back, or to invite the people in the pink area to the blue area. At first, the proportion of people who were playing video games was

only 35 per cent among seven to 64-year-olds in Japan, but this proportion has changed rapidly. We believe Brain Trainingand Wii played very big roles. The gaming population once peaked at 57 per cent, but then showed a

slight downward trend in Japan. However, this trend seems to have recovered again since our New Super Mario Bros. Wiibecame a huge hit. As you can understand at a glance (see middle and bottom charts),

the proportion of US sleep users in yellow is very low. In other words, Japanese people are more likely to stop playing video games soon after they purchase them, whereas American people tend to continue playing for longer. In Europe, there are huge differences among the countries. In the UK, the size of the gaming population is comparatively high. Meanwhile, the German gaming population is very small. Social acceptance of games seems to be very low in Germany. To some degree, it may be due to the large number of war-themed games (in Western countries) which enable players to shoot guns. German society has strong feelings of rejection towards these things, partly because of their historical background. France is in the middle position between Germany and the UK.

Additionally, the product-diffusion rate differs depending on the country. It is extremely fast in Japan and the UK, while it is slow in the US, and much slower in Germany. The speed of customers’ acceptance of new products also varies.

Therefore, we always try to face the European market with a deep understanding of each country’s unique characteristics.

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NINTENDO ONCE SERIOUSLY considered adopting a function which would force games to stop mandatorily, to prevent children from playing at a time that parents had decided. However, we also considered how the players would feel if the game suddenly stopped during an exciting part. We finally integrated a Wii function to


TO EXPAND THE GAMING population, we have to break through the barrier of encouraging non-gamers to play video games. The greatest obstacle to ‘gaming population expansion’ is people’s lack of interest. The best measure to overcome this obstacle is a recommendation from someone close to them: families, friends and relatives. Video games will not become more popular without word of mouth. Word of mouth will not easily spread except among those who are of the same generation and gender and belong to the same organisation, school or office. We are focusing on increasing the number

of people playing with our game devices in a family where word of mouth could spread.

This is why DS and Wii were made popular, to some extent, among those who had not been interested in games before. Our PR activities have not fully penetrated this barrier yet. At the same time, PR efforts with an infinite budget for a marginal increase in sales would be off balance. It is very challenging for us to come up with a method to efficiently convey the charm of a product to those uninterested. Taking the example of Nintendo 3DS, it

would be difficult to promote the attractions of 3D play without the need for any special glasses through TV, newspapers or magazines. We therefore are thinking of letting people experience Nintendo 3DS in various places at the time of its launch.

record playing time instead of making the game shut down. DS does not have such function because it was developed two years earlier than Wii. But in the case of Nintendo 3DS, we are contemplating incorporating some kind of system. Nintendo is seriously considering such measures – probably the most earnestly in this industry. Our

arguments are so serious that people might be surprised if they were aware that a game company like Nintendo is having such arguments internally. We believe that we will never be able to

improve the social acceptance of video games without careful consideration of this challenge.

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