I just happened to notice a recent interview of George Katrinakis, CEO of Nortec (official distributor and representative of Nintendo in Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and the Balkans) to Paul Papapaulou for Contra.gr. There are many interesting things concerning the Greek market, Nintendo’s success in Greece and the Wii / DS. Most noteworthy for our foreign visitors are some of the sales numbers and of course previously unknown information about Wii Music and Wii Health Pack; I have only translated a few selected excerpts but anyway, click here for the interview.
C: Let’s go to some products of Nintendo itself and talk about more solid examples. Let’s begin with Nintendo DS. How is it going in the market since its release in Greece?
GK: Surprisingly well, it could have also been much better though. The Nintendo DS is our most successful system, despite being around for just two years. However we lack a Greek localization in certain titles that could be system sellers [sic] themselves. For example, it saddens me to be in the situation where I have to provide the Greek public with Brain Training, Animal Crossing, Big Braining Academy in English. I am sure that Nintendo DS’s sales would be double if Nintendo of Europe had worked on this matter, especially after the launch of DS Lite.
C: Are there any official numbers? What where your expectations?
GK: There have been 123.310 Nintendo DS sold in Greece till now. Whoever says that they expected this is out of his mind. We all felt some disapointement when Nintendo announced the Nintendo DS. Apparently we were looking at it through the wrong perspective, because it isn’t the hardware itself that makes the Nintendo DS different, it’s the means of differentiation that Nintendo and especially the president, mister Iwata foreshadowed. Nobody buys the Nintendo DS because it is technologically above the competition but because it’s innovative and offers the means for entertainment with content the competition doesn’t have – and never will.
C: You said that titles like Nintendogs and Brain Training have brought new people to gaming; have you seen something that supports this opinion concerning Greece too?
GK: We have sold more than 85.000 copies of Nintendogs, the majority of which is owned by female players; I don’t think there’s anything more to say about that. The numbers speak for themselves since we have reached sales that, for instance, not even the most successful PlayStation 2 title can match. These numbers have surpassed what we previously considered a record: the Pokemon series. It’s noteworthy that we have also sold 15.000 Brain Training copies, such an unusual title along with the language difficulties I mentioned earlier. This does mean something. It is clear that there are new customers in Nintendo’s formats.
C: Should we expect anything in the imminent future concerning the Nintendo DS?
GK: I think that the next thrust in Nintendo DS sales will follow the release of two Pokémon titles, Diamond and Pearl, which are expected in summer. They have been the most successful titles in Nintendo history in Japan meaning that these two games have sold more than 6 million copies within 4,5 months. Now if we consider that these two titles are Wi-Fi enabled and make use of the online capabilities of the Nintendo DS and the fact that they are compatible with Pokémon Battle Revolution for Wii, one can easily understand what we should expect.
C: Would it be risky to predict the time Nintendo decides to release a new handheld?
GK: I should put it differently. The current system (Nintendo DS) is the company’s most successful system. No matter how many units they produce, they can’t match the massive demand. Nintendo says that the sales for this fiscal year will surpass 22-23 millions and they predict that 30 million more systems will be sold during the next year. Recent studies claim that the Nintendo DS will be the most successful videogame of all time, establishing a user base of over 200 millions worldwide. Why should Nintendo release a new handheld under these circumstances?
C: Can you give us a picture of the Wii sales in Greece?
GK: We’ve sold 15.173 units, which is the whole stock we’ve managed to get in 3,5 months. We are facing a glorious sold out. Nobody has a stock today… I should also mention that the GameCube needed 2 years to match these sales while Wii has also to face the Xbox 360 -which is nothing to laugh at- and the newly arrived PlayStation 3.
C: Are the Wii software sales satisfactory?
GK: They’re excellent. There’s a great difference from title to title though. For example, the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess or Wii Play are by far ahead of the rest. Those two titles have managed to reach the up to 70% of the current user base. Red Steel and Rayman: Raving Rabbits follow with 3.000-3.500 copies each. We believe that is due to the early phase we are in since many companies hastily created ports of their titles for Wii without taking advantage of the control features it offers. The more time passes the more experience is built; I think that we’re going to see some real masterpieces in Wii.
C: What should people expect from Wii in the following months?
GK: At first they should realize that all Wii Channels (the “television” channels of the system’s online service) are very functional parts of Nintendo’s concept, they have been enriched and we have systems that no one believed we’d have here in Greece, for instance the Weather Channel, the News Channel and much more.
I believe we’re going through a second phase with he release of titles that will act as real gems for the product and titles that will unveil the system’s capabilities. Personally, I believe that one of the first titles to make a difference will be Pokémon Battle Revolution, since it’s going to be the first with online capabilities. We also have titles like Super Paper Mario, Mario Galaxy, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, Driver, Prince of Persia, Brain Training, titles which are expected to be released till summer.
Titles like Metroid Prime 3 will follow afterwards and the climax will come with two products that are hard to categorize. I am speaking about Wii Health Pack and Wii Music which will be released by the end of the year. In Wii Music, the player can use the Wii Remote as a conductors baton to compose his music. An orchestra of musicians will appear on the television, and while they play a default theme, he will be able to choose on the fly a musician (the pianist for example) and male him play solo composing a desired theme, which can be stored and sent to his friends.
On the other hand, the Wii Health Pack, will (according to what we now know) will allow the player to practice some exercises and where all biometric data will be send (via the corresponding Wii Channel) to a hospital in the player’s country that Nintendo works with. After a few hours you’ll have the check-up’s results!