Multiplayer: Who is the Wii audience at this point? Because you see one audience in commercials. And then I’m up on the 32nd floor here and I see, basically, a bunch of dudes playing video games. Those aren’t the people “Wii Fit” was being made for. So you guys have had the Wii out for a year and there’s all this talk of this expanded audience. Can you tell me who your customers are at this point?

Perrin Kaplan, vice president of marketing, Nintendo of America:
I think there continues to be a misconception that the audience has to be one very specific group. And I think historically that’s what video gaming companies have survived on.

As we’ve explained that pool is only so big. That pool is really precious to us, so those are the core gamers — and that’s who we make the “Metroid“s for and the “Mario Galaxy“s for. We make the unique and new products, the “Wii Fit” and “Wii Sports” also for those core gamers. But the expanded audience — we want them to be really attracted to the system. So what we’ve been able to do is build an audience that is of parallel groups of people. It’s not so much by gender or age, although that’s helpful. It’s really about lifestyle: those who play games a lot; and those who play a little and were hesitant to get in or have never played and now are full-on Wii and DS lovers.

Multiplayer: So the tradition tends to be that when a new console launches for any [company] it’s the hardcore who get it in the first year. What is your research showing in terms of who actually has Wiis in their home now? Is it actually leaning toward a hardcore population for the most part? Or is it actually really casual and the hardcore is a bit smaller part of the population?

Kaplan: Well, what we’re finding is the Wii is really owned by everybody. So someone who is a core gamer owns a Wii. He or she may also own a second system. The people who are in what we’re calling the expanded audience — brand new to gaming — maybe someone who is a female my age for example , is senior citizen, a 13-year-old girl, a 35-year-old guy, also is owning the Wii and frequently owning the DS as well.

Multiplayer: I’ve been wanting to ask people this. When did hardcore gamers start getting called core gamers? When did the word “hard” start getting lopped off? That seemed to start happening a year ago. Was there a memo that went around?

Kaplan: No. I think saying “core gamers” is lazy lingo for … we get lazy. It is still “Hardcore”

Multiplayer: It’s still “hardcore,” but it’s turned into “core gamer.”

Kaplan: That’s lazy talk. I just did lazy talk.

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