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Reggie Fils-Aimé on the tough decision that made Nintendo Wii a success

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In a new podcast, Reggie Fils-Aimé speaks about the tough decision that helped make the Nintendo Wii a success and how he discovered his body was ready.

The latest edition of the Present Value podcast features a fascinating interview with former Nintendo of America president, Reggie Fils-Aimé.

Speaking about the Nintendo Wii, Fils-Aimé says there was one key decision that helped make the console a hit and that was to bundle a copy of Wii Sports with every system. Interviewed by Alina Everett, he explains:

“What’s really interesting is that Wii Sports was included with Wii only in the Americas and in Europe. It was not included in Japan, so it actually gives you a test market to look at the difference in results. And far and away, the results in America and Europe surpassed those in the Japanese market. And I do believe it was the decision the tough, tough decision to include Wii Sports in the proposition.”

Fils-Aimé talks about Nintendo’s commitment to taking risks during this period, even when there were internal objections and hurdles to overcome.

“Look at this way. The developers knew that the product was fantastic, Wii Sports as a piece of software. And selling Wii Sports for $40 or $50 when you’re going to sell literally 50-60 million copies of this game, it was a huge forgo of profit. But what it did was, it created fun right out of the box, and it created an experience that everyone in Europe and the Americas could enjoy with Wii. That’s why there were competitions at homes, competitions in bars, and why Wii Sports was played in retirement homes. It was the ubiquity of the experience that drove the results. And it came down to that decision that I advocated for, and in the end, the management team at Nintendo supported.”

The interview covers Fils-Aimé’s entire career, including his work at Proctor & Gamble and Pizza Hut, his memorable Nintendo debut at E3 2004, and how his Wii Fit demonstration became a meme. He also talks about his work since leaving Nintendo and his seven leadership principles.

Present Value is produced by students at Cornell University’s SC Johnson Graduate School of Management, where Fils-Aimé is the inaugural leader in residence. The full interview is entertaining, informative and well worth a listen. You can listen to it via the Present Value Podcast website.

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