November 9, 2006
Continuing notes from the Montreal Game Summit. The conference opened today with a keynote from NOA President Reggie Fils-Aime. While a pretty standard business talk about how Nintendo is innovating (“The Wii Proposition” etc.) I was impressed with the numbers he had to back this up. My favorite statistic: in September sales data, 20% of Nintendo DS purchasers reported they “have never played a videogame before,” and this number is growing. So they really do seem to be growing markets.
Reggie Fils-Aime – President, Nintendo of America
Nintendo, with both the DS and the Wii, is driving industry innovation.
Expanding audiences (customer data):
Nintendogs: 22% are female, 28% over 25
Big Brain Academy: 21% female, 58% over 25
September sales data. Year over year in September, industry minus DS is down 8% (includes xBox 360). With Nintendo DS, industry up 8%. That’s because DS is up 206%.
9 of the 10 top-selling games, in total, all platforms, are available only on Nintendo DS.
September data: 20% of Nintendo DS purchasers reported “have never played a video game before”
Wii continues the audience expansion strategy.
Wii has largest launch library in the history of videogaming (includes virtual console classic titles they’re making available for Wii download).
Using a channel metaphor in standby mode. Choose “channels” to access different game libraries, internet content, photo downloading and browsing, etc. Wii designed to be left on all the time, so it can constantly download new content.
The Wii Proposition:
Best of the past
Biggest launch library
They expect to sell 4m by end of 2006 (faster console uptake than any other console in history)
Matt Costello – Polar Productions
Story-telling, Interactivity and the Creative Process
Opens with a story about a dive in which he saw a shark, and then read a dive story based on the incident from the book Artifact. Differences:
Something at stake (rescue mission vs. sightseeing)
Exaggerating the danger (shark actively rams the diver vs. just stopping and looking)
More active protagonist
Interactivity, even if it’s an illusion, is satisfying. Shows a card magic trick to make the point (you’re free to pick any card, but no matter what card you pick, he can make it be the card that appears upside down in the deck).
Showed different puzzles and had audience members solve them. The point: put something at stake and you get narrativity for free (suspense, something at stake, an active protagonist).
Question (he asked himself). How does prototype intersect with using a writer. Currently consulting on new IP development with id. Bring in the writer early, during prototyping. Don’t bring writer in just to do dialog after the story has been developed.
Glenn Entis – Chief Visual and Technical Officer, EA
Emotionally Believable Characters
In filmed CG, Moore’s Law applies to production tools.
In videogames, Moore’s Law applied to both production tools and delivery platform.
For cinema, film’s change, platforms don’t.
Motion has to be better than modeling – fancy model with poor motion looses believability. Uncanny valley.
Athlete’s Movement (in order of what you need to do to maintain believability):
In current gen sports games, have added eye gaze and expressions to communicate emotion.
Gave a bunch of demos of next gen sports game animations – motion getting fancier and fancier.
Have to believe how the characters look, move, think and feel (second-to-second AI).
Another zombie line: behavior has to be better than modeling & motion. Just like only throwing more polys leads into uncanny valley, so does just adding more (interpolatable) motion clips. Graphics is the easiest part of the problem.
“We’ll just create enough pixels to hang ourselves.”