Mon, Apr 23, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Feature: Grandmother controls national launch of Wii

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

While local gamers eagerly await the official debut of Nintendo Co's Wii game consoles, they may not know that this event depends on a 63-year-old grandmother.

Tseng Ai-yu (曾愛玉) is chairman of Hakuyu Ltd (博優), the sole distributor of Nintendo's products in Taiwan.

She has been dubbed "Super Grandma" by business peers in the industry, and is known for her straightforward and strict business manners.

Hakuyu has been in the media spotlight recently because of the popularity of Wii, as hundreds of gamers have used Internet auction portals and game shops to purchase the consoles.

"These imported versions are rampant now. We couldn't do much about it, but consumers who have bought theses machines should not expect maintenance services from us if something goes wrong," Tseng told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview.

She said that the grey market importers should respect Hakuyu as the company has to pay taxes and apply for official licenses in order to bring Wii into this country.

Her relentless determination to clamp down on parallel imports was evident recently when she led police and lawyers to stop a vendor from selling Wii at the Taipei Metro underground mall, even breaking the vendor's TV set.

"Tseng wouldn't give special preference to you just because you are good with her. Her product prices are fixed and constant for every reseller," a game dealer surnamed Chang said of her experience ordering Nintendo machines from Hakuyu.

"She is clear-cut in doing business. Hakuyu is the only legal distributor and the market order is well managed without cut-throat price competition," Chang said.

There is no need for Hakuyu to spend a huge amount on marketing or promotional activities because Nintendo products are always in great demand here, she said.

Hakuyu, whose 10-person office is located on Minchuan East Road, has owned the sole distributorship of Nintendo games in Taiwan for the past 20 years.

Repeated requests by this reporter for a visit over the past few weeks were turned down.

In early 1980s, Tseng started to import the Game & Watch series, a line of approximately 59 handheld electronic games made by Nintendo between 1980 and 1991.

The Kyoto-based Nintendo started to pay attention to Tseng's sales as volume picked up tremendously, and later it allowed her complete control over its business in this country.

Tseng's operations have moved smoothly in recent years, in part because of her insistence on cash transactions, which reduces bad debts.

However, Tseng's son Tseng Yu-cheng (曾優成), general manager of Hakuyu, said that his mother has been upset by the recent media coverage of the company.

"She is a low-key person ? but the TV stations kept running reports on her," he said in a telephone interview last week.

Like his mom, Tseng Yu-cheng declined to comment on details of Wii's official launch in this country, except to add that preparations are underway for Wii's Internet and after-sales services.

Chang, however, said that her talks with Hakuyu indicate that the debut will be sometime in June.

"The version coming to Taiwan offers local interface for Internet connectivity and Hakuyu has been working to get approval from the government," Chang said.

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