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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 28, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Nintendo hires Disney exec to lead digital push

To power-up the digital strategy around its new hardware systems, Nintendo of America has hired a senior Disney games executive.

Duncan Orrell-Jones will lead the “development and evolution” of digital strategy for the 3DS handheld and upcoming Wii U game console.

It’s a key position for Nintendo, which reported its first annual loss this year and is counting on its new platforms to restore profitability.

The Wii U will give Nintendo a high-definition console that can be a hub for video entertainment in the home, but the company needs more than just powerful hardware and great games to compete with Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation.

The array of content, gaming and messaging services available through game systems is becoming just as important, as gaming and entertainment have become online activities. The lineup of services is also a way for console makers to keep the attention of consumers who may otherwise be lured by the options available on mobile devices such as the iPad and Web-connected TVs.

Nintendo previewed its more ambitious online offerings earlier this month at the E3 game conference. A cornerstone will be the “Miiverse” social network and messaging system that will connect players when the Wii U launches this holiday season.

But the company has yet to provide many details about the online offerings.

It’s also saying little about how much of the new services will be developed under Orrell-Jones in Redmond. He’s starting July 1 as senior vice president of network business, reporting to Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime.

Orrell-Jones “brings knowledge and hands-on experience to Nintendo that will help us develop and implement long-term digital initiatives for our systems,” Fils-Aime said in a release. “By creating this new position we’re demonstrating our commitment to the expansion of our online business, and Duncan is the perfect person for the job.”

At Disney, Orell-Jones worked on expanding the company’s games business across different platforms, as senior vice president of Disney Interactive Media Group. Earlier he was the group’s general manager in Tokyo.

He studied physics at UCLA before receiving an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

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