As we all know now, the Nintendo's upcoming console is now titled the Wii. Love it or hate it, here's a great interview from Game Informer, the full transcript of their interview with Nintendo of America's Public Relations Manager Matt Atwood.
Game Informer: Why change the name in the first place when people are already used to The Nintendo Revolution?
Matt Atwood: We always stated that Revolution was a code name. While it indicates the disruptive nature of the system, we wanted a name that represents all inclusiveness, because that's a huge point of the system. It's not about you or me – it's about Wii. So, it's basically a different kind of a system.
GI: Whose idea was Wii?
Atwood: It was actually several people internally. But beyond that, we aren't disclosing specifics on how the name came about. But it was several people at NOA and NCL.
GI: So it wasn't Yamauchi coming in with his iron fist and saying, "We're calling it Wii!"
Atwood: (laughs) No. No, it wasn't. For a long time there we've been discussing the name and there was a lot of talk, and this is what the committee came up with. It was a large group of people that came up with the name.
GI: This is going to sound really crass and rude, but a child's way of saying they have to go to the bathroom is saying they have to go wee. Doesn't that concern you at all?
Atwood: No. Anytime you announce a new name you're going to get a lot of questions and the whys. If you look at what TiVo did or Virgin Airline for instance, a sort of tie in for example. Those names have become household names and it had nothing to do with that at all. We wanted a name that represented the fact that this system was really for everyone to play. And Wii, the word, is W-i-i, and the two I's represent both people and the controllers. So, it's really not about this sort of tongue in cheek.
Again if you look at things like Yahoo! Or Virgin, or Caterpillar or Naked Juice, or Prius – the car, or Napster – these names either have funny connotations or don't make sense initially. But if you look at how we support this, and what the name represents, I think it makes sense.
GI: So there were never thoughts of, "Let's just stick with Revolution? It's a really cool name"
Atwood: I think there were thoughts across the board. There were thoughts of sticking with Revolution, then there were thoughts of a completely different name, but once everything came together this was the name decided. I think they wanted a name that was very unique. Because this system is not about an upgrade of an old system. This is about an entirely new way to play, an entirely new type of system.
GI: Just seeing the reactions in our office and seeing what people are saying online – it seems people are really shocked at this name, and aren't really that thrilled about it.
Atwood: I think the first time you hear any name, it sounds odd. I think one of the reasons is that it's totally different and unexpected as you said. The first step will be getting to E3, and getting hands-on. We're pretty confident it'll become a lexicon like Google, or Amazon, or Virgin. Obviously there will be first reactions, but once you get your hands-on with the system and understand, and watch the video, and read the back story of what this name is supposed to represent, I think it all ties in.
GI: Isn't it a little tricky that you have to give us a one sheet to explain what the name means and it doesn't say it by itself.
Atwood: No, the point is we want it to be very clear what we're saying. Again, we'll go back to your traditional naming conventions for systems. They tend to be fairly literal. That's not what we want at all. We want something that isn't as literal. But once you understand it, it makes a lot of sense.
Once you touch the Revolution, this will make more sense. Once you play more games, and once the system is out, and more and more people play it, and you're realizing these different experiences, it'll make more sense. Again, it may sound a little bit of a line, but I think it fits well. This is not about you or me, it's about Wii.
GI: Is that the new "Blue Ocean"?
Atwood: It's all relational. It all fits. The Wii name fits in with the Blue Ocean strategy as far as going different, going unique, making a statement, but at the same time really pointing to the fact that this isn't a traditional system and not done the traditional way. This is about expanding the audience, while not at all ignoring our core, in fact appealing to them, which you'll find at E3. It's about broadening.
GI: Are you trying to connotate a Wi-Fi type thing?
Atwood: I thought the same thing too. The Wi-Fi thing isn't really part of it, though, once you get to E3, there may be news on that. We've already said the system will be online out of the box, but while it lends itself and kind of fits, it's not the overall intent.
GI: Why reveal the name now? Why not wait until your E3 press conference?
Atwood: E3 for us is all about the games. We understand that when you announce a name it's going take a bit of time to get comfortable with it, and when we get to the show we want the focus to be completely on the games, and the gameplay. The focus of E3 is to get everyone to play this system. You can only appreciate the system when you play it. I know for a long time we've been talking about all the possibilities, and I know you guys have been talking about all of the possibilities of the system.
The key is to focus on the games and the gameplay at E3, not a name, but anything but that.
GI: Speaking of E3, has Nintendo figured out how to control all of the different freehand controllers that are going to be pointing at 80 different directions?
Atwood: Yes, NCL has worked on that and have a pretty good solution which you will see at the show.
GI: This is a very different name and it's going to be really interesting seeing what the world has to say about it. Nintendo has always paved their own path since the NES, so is this sort of following in that tradition you think?
Atwood: I think that the last few years – the best comparison would be the DS. When we announced DS everybody wasn't sure about the name, obviously that one is quite literal. But it's about the concept behind the DS and the concept behind the Revolution. So while Nintendo has gone their own way since the NES, as you stated, it's really about this new direction of expanding the market, taking care of our traditional gamers, but also developing games like Brain Age, Nintendogs, and the new titles you're going to see at E3. Really approaching videogames in a very different way, because we don't believe that staying the course is the right way to go. We believe that a new way to play is the answer. People want more immersion and we will deliver it.
GI: What did you honestly think of the name the first time you heard it?
Atwood: First time I heard it, I sat down and thought about it for a bit, and "Do I like it, Do I not?" and as I thought, "Hmm, it seems a little bit different. I don't understand it." And then I did the same thing you guys did and watch the video, and the more I understood about the system, the more it's made a lot of sense to me. Yeah, initially I went, "Wow, this is different." And then once I started getting more hands on with the system, and once I started to understand the concept behind the system and how the name ties in, I actually really like it. I think people will talk about it. You're definitely seeing it on the net, and people will continue to talk about it.
What I like about it is, it's not about abbreviating anything. There will be no abbreviation needed. There is no Nintendo Wii. It's just Wii. It's a very inclusive name in that respect.
GI: So what are you going to tell the people that think you're crazy for naming it the Wii?
Atwood: We're going to tell them, one, play the system. Kind of what we told you. I think initially you're going to see some reaction, and I think its going to make a lot of sense. Get your hands on the system. Once you see entirely what we're doing with the system it will make more sense. I would suggest really trying to understand looking at the background story of the name because it's really telling of the system. The system really supports it. I would say get your hands on the system first and then make your decision. The first look will be at E3, but that won't be the entire one. The system comes at the end of 2006 and we're pretty confident and comfortable.
GI: It's been rumored that the new big Revolution secret is the fact that the nun chuck controller is also motion detecting…
Atwood: Really. That's interesting. I would say 9:30 in the morning on Tuesday of E3 will be filled with surprises and I would just show up. Because there's been a ton of speculation. Some of it's right. Some of it's not. We'd say that if that's the only secret you're expecting you're going to be very surprised.
GI: Do you think Nintendo is going to take home E3 this year? Why do you think Nintendo will be the big buzz at E3 this year?
Atwood: I think it comes down to totally what I've been talking about with the name. I've been a gamer since – well I got my NES when I was 11 – and I am starving for a new way to play. I was cynical about the DS when it shipped, I was completely cynical. And long before I worked at Nintendo I found myself playing that system far more than any other handheld. The reason being is that I could do different things.
Right now I'm playing Trauma Center for instance. I love that game. You cannot do that anywhere else. Those types of experiences are really what is compelling. When I can do something new – Nintendogs, Brain Age – those are completely different ways to play and it's what I'm playing right now. I love the classics, but I've played them for a very long time and with the Wii we've already talked about you're going to have the classics, you're going to have the hardcore games, but you're also going to be able to play new unique types of games. That's huge.
To me that has massive social implications. For instance, I've played games for many years, and I've tried to talk to my mom about a game and it was completely Greek. I believe Wii will open that dialog. I believe it already has with DS. When you look at Brain Age, you can take that game to your parents, your uncle, your niece, and everybody likes it, and gets it, and wants to take it from you. It's taking this very personal experience and allowing to become more social. And people can understand it more. I mean, when you play Brain Age, you hold it like a book, that's very easy to understand. You're going to see more things like that.
GI: (laughs) The name Wii makes me think of peeing! You said you have to hold the DS like a book for Brain Age, I hate to know how I'm supposed to hold the Wii controller.
Atwood: I'm not going to go there, but you won't be surprised. When you look at it, there's so many different things you can do. But come to E3 and you will appreciate it.