Reggie Fils-Aimé on Nintendo and the Future of Video Games
15:13

Reggie Fils-Aimé on Nintendo and the Future of Video Games

Culture
Speaker 1: When I look back on things that happened before the pandemic, I think about, uh, the New York video game critic, circle, uh, awards. And one of the last people I saw in person was Reggie FME, who, um, was the, the president of Nintendo of America. And I've been fortunate enough to, to interview a couple of times, and you have a new book that came out recently called disrupting the game. So it, it's great to see you again. So, I mean, everybody knows about you from Nintendo, but I was curious [00:00:30] about what you've been doing also since then. Speaker 2: Sure. Well, you're, you're exactly right. Uh, in, in my retirement, in my form of retirement, it really is finding ways to share the benefits of my experiences, uh, my personal learnings and journey, and to share it with as many people as possible. And so that has brought me to the Bronx physically. Uh, it's brought me to do a number [00:01:00] of, uh, video based events with the variety of different, uh, folks that the New York video game critic, circle mentors, you know, that's been a key part of how I have, um, given back, I've also made a number of trips to Cornell university, where I went to school. I was actually just up there a few weeks ago, and that's another avenue for me to interact with the leadership at the university to interact with key professors, to interact with students. [00:01:30] And again, just to share the benefits of, of what I've done and, and how I've been able to pivot through my career to, uh, you know, to, to find new opportunities and to do new things. Well, Speaker 1: Your book, um, disrupting the game is all about your life. Uh, you know, before Nintendo, during Nintendo, after Nintendo, I, I wanna bring up like a, a great quote that was in your book. And that was, um, um, kind of every seven years [00:02:00] that game consoles need to make some sort of disruptive leap. And then I thought about that, you know, the way that the three DS change from the DS and the WEU change from the, we, I mean, do you see for the future of the switch? I mean, do you imagine, you know, that Nintendo will keep making those types of disruptive leaps or do you see a product line that will evolve differently? Speaker 2: So I, I, I think there's two parts to your question, right? So first, you know, Nintendo is a company and [00:02:30] as recently as just a few weeks ago in the most recent, uh, financial presentations, they talked that, you know, their view is that the switch, you know, is, is still only halfway through its life. So if, if that is true, then clearly the company is thinking about what they will need to do over the next five years to continue giving that system momentum. Um, you know, all, all you [00:03:00] can do is look at past examples, whether it's from Nintendo or from other players in the industry and, you know, mid cycle upgrades has been, you know, part of the, the path, um, changing the value equation in some way, shape or form has been part of the path. Um, you know, these have to be different things that the company is considering a second part of your question. Speaker 2: You know, interestingly, [00:03:30] the company also touched on, uh, recently in their financial announcements and it, you know, there was a, a statement made about, you know, thinking deeply how they transition from the switch to whatever the next platform needs to be. And you know, how that has to be a well considered series of decisions, you know, a again, um, going from a highly successful platform to the next highly [00:04:00] successful platform, you know, you could make the argument that it's only been done a handful of times in the video game industry, right? Sony from the original PlayStation of PlayStation two, correct. Clearly went from strength to strength AR arguably Nintendo from the game boy, family of systems to the Nintendo DS, you know, well, they went from strength to strength. Uh, hasn't been done since, [00:04:30] uh, you know, as, as I look at at the industry. So, you know, for, for Nintendo to go successfully from the switch to whatever comes next is going to be a significant challenge that they've already said, they're thinking deeply about. Speaker 1: And how do you see the, the gaming industry and the future of gaming now? I mean, there's so many, I keep wondering too, if the idea of seven years for disruptive consoles still holds, or whether we're, you know, there's so many thoughts of game streaming still, [00:05:00] and the idea of almost like sometimes floating post hardware, or are we, you know, there's the whole concept of the metaverse and in, in gaming, which has kind of been in gaming for a while, but I'm also curious your, you know, if you, how your thoughts there are just, you know, do you see gaming taking foundational shifts now? Speaker 2: Uh, when I joined the industry as an executive, about three out of every 10 people, um, we're playing video games. And when that's, you know, when you look at us and [00:05:30] Europe and Japan, you look at those same three geographic areas. That's closer to eight outta 10 are playing video games. You, you have burgeoning interest in the video game space in places like Africa in, in, uh, core areas of the middle east, um, you know, big markets like India, you know, have a tremendous runway for the GI video game space. So, you know, I, I, I see a future that's going to continue to have [00:06:00] lots of innovation, lots of disruption. I, I, I think the innovation and disruption are going to come in content, right. And, and, you know, great case and point, you know, the, the, uh, the, the battle Royal games are only about five, six years old, right. Speaker 2: Uh, you know, started with, uh, with the first executions of PUBG. You, you, you look at, uh, where innovative content can go in the future. And, and I [00:06:30] see a huge amount of, of opportunity. Um, I, I do see a future where game streaming is the dominant form of the industry. And, and therefore you don't need a dedicated console at home. That's gonna come with improvements of in-home wifi, right? Meaning, you know, here in my house, I, I, I've [00:07:00] got great internet speed into my home, but with wifi, if I try and play and experience just connected through wifi, I still get lag. So that last bit of, uh, speed in the home needs to be there for, you know, truly cloud based gaming to be the predominant form because you, and I know when we're playing a game, [00:07:30] we don't want any lag, it, it ruins the experience, but I do see that there's going to be improvements in that capability. Speaker 2: You know, it's probably at least five years out, but it's, it's coming. And then, you know, in terms of other technologies, I I've been on record and, and, you know, folks have, have not liked my statement in this, but I, I do believe blockchain as a, as a foundational piece of technology could be really interesting. And what, what I find interesting about [00:08:00] it is, you know, with blockchain contracts and, you know, the, the ability for me to own something, uh, forever mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, versus it being tied to a particular console or particular manufacturer as a gamer, I find that tremendously interesting and tremendously compelling. So with smart contracts and, and other foundational elements of blockchain, I do think it can lead to differentiated experiences. [00:08:30] So I, I, I see a very bright future for the gaming industry. I, and, and I do see it evolving both from a content perspective, as well as from a technology perspective Speaker 1: And so much, uh, I mean, the book is called dis behind me, it's called disrupting the game. It ends on the thought of disruption, uh, and, and about the individual, you know, uh, spirit of, of disruption and, and taking on that role, [00:09:00] I guess you already talked about this, but I wondered, you know, how you imagine, you know, where in the industry we most need to disrupt in the gaming industry. Speaker 2: I, I, I think there are a number of areas where we need to disrupt the, the, the, the first is I, I would say, in the area of culture and inclusion, right? So what do I mean by that? What, what I mean by that is, again, as this industry, uh, [00:09:30] is the, the dominant form of, of entertainment, you know, how do the industry players act with that level of, of impact around hiring practices, promotion practices, and, and, and really, really living a, uh, a mentality that, you know, a broad diverse group of employees will bring the best ideas and the best [00:10:00] solutions to bear, you know, candidly, uh, the industry is not acting that way in terms of culture, uh, and behavior. Uh, another area of diversity is just, you know, diverse voices and content creation, um, D diverse types of content. You know, this tends to be an industry that, you know, when, when there's some success in a particular type of, of genre, people rush to that genre, [00:10:30] you know, mark my words in the next two years, there are going to be a ton of Eldon ring clones because Eldon ring has had such, uh, success, but, you know, there needs to be a diversity of, of ideas and execution. Speaker 2: Uh, and again, as an industry, there, there isn't as much, um, positive examples of that. When you look over the long term, you know, the, the next area that, that I would, where I see the opportunity [00:11:00] for disruption is, uh, you know, in, in this area of, of taking risks, prudent risks, but, but being more, uh, risk taking across the types of initiatives, um, you know, clearly there are a number of consolidations that are happening within the industry, whether you look at take two and Zenga, whether you look at, you [00:11:30] know, Sony and Bunge, uh, whether you look at act division and Microsoft, I believe that that'll actually give rise to a birth of, you know, kind of highly skilled, double a or highly skilled indie type of studios. Because I, I do believe a, a number of these content creators. Aren't gonna wanna be part of that bigger organization. They're gonna wanna go strike out on their own. And so I, I look forward to another golden [00:12:00] age of high quality content being made by smaller studios that are gonna take more risks and, and do things that are more interesting and, and more different than what we're seeing today. Speaker 1: You grew up in the Bronx. Um, interesting to me that I did not know was that afterwards you, you moved to Brentwood long island. So I, I was really curious about, you know, I, I, you know, I don't, I don't even know the Bronx as well as I should, but I was also curious what was like to move from the [00:12:30] Bronx to Brentwood and what, and what life on long island was like Speaker 2: A, as I highlight in the book, uh, you know, the Bronx is, uh, today and back then a, a pretty tough neighborhood. You know, it's, it's shocking when I tell people that the Bronx, uh, has some of the poorest congressional, uh, districts across the United States, you know, which is just shocking to think about, uh, it, it encompasses, [00:13:00] uh, a congressional district that has the highest amount of food insecurity. And that very much was consistent with my early days in the Bronx. I, I was in a five story, walkup tenement building. My father worked two jobs for us to get the, uh, the monies in order to afford that small house in Brentwood. And about three years after we moved to Brentwood, we made a trip back to the Bronx. We still had [00:13:30] family in the area. We drove by that tenement building that we had left only, you know, two, three years prior windows were blown out. Speaker 2: Uh, the building had suffered a fire. I mean, it was just shocking to see how quickly that neighborhood had continued to degenerate. Interestingly, in doing work with the Dreamyard, I drove past my old tenement building, and now it's back and, and, [00:14:00] you know, looks good. The neighborhood looks good. So the, the area continues to go through, um, ongoing renewal Brentwood, uh, when I moved out there in the late sixties, uh, and I was there until 79 when I graduated and went on to Cornell, um, you know, it was an area that was very much middle class, very much where both parents worked. Um, it was, [00:14:30] you know, not a very ethnically diverse neighborhood at the time, but I, I was fortunate that the Brentwood school district had some great teachers had, uh, a number of advanced and honors programs. So, you know, it, it, it, it was happenstance that we happened be in a, in a, in a area with a good school district. It was happenstance that this all happened. And it enabled me [00:15:00] to go off to a, to a good college. So lot of luck, uh, involved from that standpoint, but it, it was always making the most out of the opportunities presented.

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