The Story Behind The Wii
Nintendo made a comeback against all odds with the Wii console, beating both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the console race. It all started with the inventor named Tom Quinn, who came up with the motion technology used in the Wii. Before Quinn went to Nintendo, he had already been rejected by Microsoft and Sony.
When he pitched his idea to Microsoft, Steve Ballmer the CEO of microsoft instantly loved it and told him to pitch the idea to the Xbox team. The Xbox team however, had a much different reaction than Ballmer:
But the meeting went terribly. The attitude I got from them was that if they wanted to do motion control, they would do it themselves and make a better job of it. I mean, they were just rude. In fact, the meeting went so terribly that one of the executives came over to me afterwards and apologized on behalf of others. I remember him saying how this was not how Microsoft should be engaging with potential partners.
Disappointed, Quinn reached out to Sony hoping they would understand the potential of his technology. Quinn met up with Ken Kutaragi to pitch his idea:
I’ll never forget that meeting at Sony. We were in a tiny little room with a big PC projector and Kutaragi comes in, introduces himself, sits down and – I swear this is true – he closed his eyes the moment I started showing my pitch. He never opened them until I had finished.
It was awkward, very awkward, but I still asked him for feedback and he said, ‘well, can you produce this for 50 cents?’ I laughed and explained that would be impossible, so again I left empty handed and, to be honest, that time it got to me. I felt pretty let down. You have to remember that Sony and Microsoft were by far the two biggest console manufacturers. Nintendo wasn’t doing well and we hadn’t thought much about them.
Finally, Quinn turned to Nintendo, which had recently seen changes in its management. Quinn ended up pitching his idea to a committee of 6 headed by Atsushi Asada:
I’ll never forget that week. I distinctly remember the company’s beautiful board meeting room – a huge cherrywood table and flush carpeting and outstanding ornaments. Asada didn’t speak much English, but he had an entourage of about eight executives, engineers and programmers. I didn’t know who they were though.
About twenty minutes into my pitch, which was roughly the same one I gave to Microsoft and Sony, Asada stopped things and asked if he could have a moment to speak with his people. I was thinking, here we go again.
They started talking and, right in front of me, it was growing into this really heated discussion. I was told by Yoshida, who was also in the room, that some executives were resistant to the idea of motion control, while others were completely sold by it.
And then, in the middle of this debate that was getting louder and louder, Asada barked something and there was total silence. That was it. He decided to license our patents for motion control, as well as buy some of our company.
Soon Nintendo was to release a new console, built upon Tom Quinn’s technology, which became a huge commercial success and the rest as they say is history.