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Aussie-Nintendo.com caught up with Nintendo Australia's PR Manager, Vispi Bhopti, at the eGames and Entertainment Expo at Melbourne last Friday. The self-confessed Nintendo fanboy and handler of PR matters at Nintendo's local HQ provided an insight into the excitement at Nintendo, and spoke of how the company aims to make Wii a massive success Down Under.
Firstly, would you be able to let us know what it is that you do at Nintendo Australia, and how you got to where you are today.
Yeah, it's been a long journey. I started off at Nintendo about eight years ago, working in the help line. So, it was sort of a two dollar-a-minute call centre, and people would call up and ask for help on Shadow Gate or Zelda: Ocarina of Time, all the time. So yeah, started off as a gamer and yeah, myself, I got hired on the help line, along with a lot of the guys who worked in there, and we gained a launch there, and from there, yeah, just moved on.
Wiiís making its global debut in the US this weekend, and itís set to hit Australia in a few weeks time. Last generation it took the GameCube months to reach Australia after the US, so weíre wondering, whatís changed?
Oh, look, everything's changed. From that time on we're an entirely different company, an entirely different philosophy, an entirely different product, as you can see. Realistically, the Wii... it is a real global launch Ė I mean, we're releasing just days after Japan, and that never would've happened in the past. We're releasing before Europe. The only reason why US is releasing this early is because they need to release before the Thanksgiving weekend, because in America, culturally, that is the big, sort of purchasing weekend. Thatís the busy Christmas period for them, so that's the sort of rationale behind that.
But yeah, as you said, we're only a few weeks after it, and it's great to see that. It's the same mentality thatís going to move on for games as well. There are games that we've had, like Mario Kart for the DS Ė we got it before the US, so that's gold.
Yeah, also, the DS Lite Ė that was a similar situation.
It was, it was. Yeah, that's what we want to do moving ahead. We don't want that disparity. We don't want people to need to sort of import the stuff and that sort of thing. We want things to be available for Australian gamers.
Weíve just had Roseís keynote today, and youíve had a bit of a demonstration. And by the looks, everyoneís really enthusiastic about it. No doubt youíre very busy, but what is the atmosphere like at Nintendo Australia at the moment?
It's, it's chaos, but like exciting chaos! You know when before something big's going to happen, you're all running around like crazy, but you're all getting a lot of things done. But at the end of the day, it's just positive. There's just not an ounce of negativity in there. I don't think, most of our team, half of our team, haven't slept in days and days, but we just forget. It's just so much stuff to do, so much stuff to get excited about. And because of the feedback we've been getting, and especially at events like this, it's been so positive that it gives us a lot of energy to just keep going ahead. Yeah, it's really good.
Youíve kicked off a road show around Australia, allowing people to get their hands on the Wii. So obviously youíre pursuing the message that playing really is believing?
Playing is believing. There's no other way to put it. And you guys have had a bit of a go, and realise as much as anyone that the second you grab it, you completely understand it. It's not about standing there, talking about tech specs and talking about, "This is what goes into it and this is how it does it." Who cares how it does it, it's magic. And the second you grab it, you're tilting the controller, you know, "This is how it works. Now I get it, now I understand what it's all about." So, really, a big focus of our marketing campaign in Australia is on mass sampling. So we've got all our shopping centre samplings, of course, we've got all of our retail samplings. All the dates are on our website.
Nintendo of Americaís announced theyíve got a $200 million budget for advertising, and you guys have sort of copped a bit of trouble from fans about ďlackĒ of advertising in Australia. So whatís planned in terms of media?
Look, media, media is a big spend. This is the key product. This is a huge buy for us. I think in the past the issue there with the fans' criticism is that they don't get exposed to all the advertising. Obviously, especially with a product like Wii, we're going for a very broad audience. Our demographic, our core, primary marketing demographic, is 5 to 95 year olds. That is our primary demographic. We don't have anything smaller than that. And so, obviously we're appealing to, you know, someone in...I think there was an article in the Bulletin, a massive article about, you know, Mr Iwata and Nintendo and Wii - you guys probably wouldn't have seen that, but that was massive to that audience. You know, or umm, you know if we're going to get this thing on the Today Show in the morning, that's a different audience. Or if we're going to get it on A Current Affair or, you know, some other show.
The idea is to get a really broad spread. So, weíre working really hard, in terms of marketing activity, itís a big, big campaign. But, it is spread to reach a new audience. The Nintendo fans, but thereís a lot of stuff weíre doing to get the stuff to those guys, to give those guys the experience, but realistically, thatís probably the easier part, in terms of our job. The hard part for us is getting people who are totally non-gamers and making them into gamers. And thatís what we did with DS. We did it really successfully. So thatís what weíre doing with Wii. So thereís going to be a lot of advertising, a lot of marketing, that, realistically, I wonít get to see, because Iím not in that scope. Iím not 85 years old, or Iím not 69 years old. But thatís not to say there isnít activity going. Yeah, thereís a lot of activity, a big investment in Wii.
We saw an interesting article yesterday in the Herald Sun, I think it was. They were writing about the fact that DS has been implemented into the classroom in a Melbourne school.
Yeah, isnít that great. Yeah! I mean that was, yeah, thatís the type of thing thatís gold, you know. Weíve had so many good stories, positive stories, with Brain Training, you know, links to Alzheimerís Association as well, and now with stuff like DS, itísÖthat stuffís gold. That shows the whole idea that breaking down those stigmas, you know, even with Wii. Weíve designed it in such a way to break down any sort of negativity that people have with gaming. And then, now putting positive spins on it, who wouldíve thought? Who wouldíve thought that Nintendo was a part of something like that?
The Virtual Console is clearly a big part of Wii. There were games like Super Mario RPG, that were released in the USA, but never made it to Australia. Do you know if thereís any hope of games like that being brought over?
I donít know what the entire spread of games are, that are going to come out. What I do know is that weíve got a lot of games at launch, weíve got 26, Iím pretty sure, games at launch. Thatís a lot of games to whet the appetite. Donít forget that on launch day, day one, youíre going to have a lot of Wii games that youíre going to want to play, and youíre probably going to have a lot of GameCube games that youíre going to want to reinvest some time in. So thatís plenty of gameplay, but, guys there will be Ė and I can commit to the fact that there will be Ė a lot of games continuously and consistently added to that Virtual Console list. Thatís going to be a huge library. And, you know, whether or not thereís this game or that game, or that particular game Ė I donít know which particular games theyíre going to end up bringing to Australia. But itís not a sort of, umm, you know, the sky falling or anything like that. At the end of the day, thereís plenty of play on Wii.
News and Weather, and the Internet Channel, wonít be available at launch. Do you think thatís going to be a disadvantage at all, or?
With all of the Channels, we havenít finalised when theyíre going to be available. All of them will be available just after launch. Weíre just finalising when. Globally, we havenít finalised or locked in the dates for [when] any of the Channels that are internet-capable, or require that broadband connection, will be live. Behind the scenes, weíre working like crazy to make sure itís up and running. But most of all, weíre making sure that itís all up and running well, and that itís the best service for the consumer. It is something thatís for free, itís something thatís accessible to anyone. So anyone who buys a Wii now, they donít need to subscribe, or do anything like that. Itíll be a pleasant surprise down the line, I suppose, for them. But yeah, itís a lot of work that goes into making stuff like that Ė not only work seamlessly, but there is no flaws, itís got to be a seamless system Ė but also making it the best experience possible. So I think weíre just investing a little more time to make it a little better, than what the averageÖ
I suppose with things like Zelda, and stuff, people are not going to have too much worry, people are going to be veryÖ
Iíve already put in my annual leave, and I know Iím not going to be sleeping. Iím going to be spending that break between Christmas and New Years, just banging away on Zelda.
And 70 hours of gameplayÖ
Oh, think of it, itís just so much to do. Besides the gameplay, just stuff like fishing, that weíre showing today. Itís awesome. Iíve never been into fishing before, but Iíve never needed to actually fish! So yeah, thereís a lot of stuff to do, so I can certainly find things to do to kill my time.
Any final words you want to leave to all our Aussie-Nintendo readers?
Guys, look, thank you guys for your support. You know, weíre always on that site, weíre checking up on that site Ė great site. And weíre getting a lot of information through from there, and we love to support you guys as well, because you guys are the loyalists. And at the end of the day, I really urge you guys to jump on our website and see where the Wii tours are and get down there and get your hands on. Because thereís nothing better than experiencing for yourself.
Fantastic. Itís been great speaking to you!
We'd like to thank Vispi and all the folks at Nintendo Australia for this opportunity, and an amazing presence at the EGE Expo.
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