The Reggie Fils-Aimé tourist train continues to take off! Last week, the former president of Nintendo of America sat down with James Batchelor of GamesIndustry.biz for a conversation after the release of his book, Game disorderto talk not only about the book but about various industry issues and the future of Nintendo.
Towards the end of the podcast, James asks Reggie a question inspired by recent Nintendo financial results and the current Nintendo president’s comments about the transition to a new generation of consoles. The Switch is one of Nintendo’s best-selling consoles ever, surpassing even the hugely successful Wii, and the company often stumbled upon some of its best systems – the Wii U, for example, stumbled upon the success of the Wii.
Answering the question “what can Nintendo do to take advantage of the Switch?”, Reggie mentioned how short and far between transitioning from one successful console generation to the next successful one was previously very difficult, distinguishing two specific leaps:
First, I think it’s important to look at the overall history of this industry and recognize how rare it is for a company to move from one successful platform to another. As I think about it, I can only point to two examples where this has been the case for the last 30 years or so: Sony, moving from the original PlayStation to the PlayStation 2, from dynamic to powerful. The other example I would point out is Nintendo moving from the Game Boy / Game Boy Advance generation to the Nintendo DS generation. So let’s recognize that moving from one successful platform to another is incredibly difficult and challenging.
The Nintendo DS itself is the best-selling handheld console ever at the time of writing, with the PS2 being the best-selling home console to date. Both the PlayStation and Game Boy / GBA have also been hugely successful – Game Boy / Color ranks third on the list of best-selling consoles and the PlayStation has just surpassed Switch sales – but Reggie acknowledges that these were flash in the pan. The odds are stacked against Nintendo, in essence.
However, Reggie has been thinking about Nintendo’s previous comments about the Switch life cycle, but just because the company still has a long way to go, it still has to think ahead:
Specifically for the Nintendo and Nintendo Switch, the company also said that in their view the Switch is still somewhat in the middle of its life cycle. So, if this is true, the company needs to think about what it’s going to do in the next four or five years or so to continue the core business dynamics for the Switch. This is the first job. And then the second job follows his heels, to think about what will follow and what the future holds. It’s a pretty heavy lifter that needs to be done.
I believe that, first and foremost, you need to think about the content and what the content line will be to keep players committed. I think you need to look at history and what are some of the historical tactics that have worked to maintain a life cycle of a particular generation – and that includes everything from mid-cycle upgrades to how you think about pricing and value. There are a number of different tactics you can play, but basically the content bar should be there.
I continue to be very active in this industry, I am active from the investor point of view, I am active as a consultant and I think that knowing the demographic changes, knowing the geographical opportunities, knowing how the technology continues to evolve – all this should be thought of a company like Nintendo in order to successfully launch the system after the Switch.
So while Nintendo needs to keep focusing on the Switch, it also needs to start thinking about what went right with the console, and possibly what went right in its transition from the Game Boy era to the DS era. James Batchelor brings the term “multi-household” to the forefront of the debate, and Switch has already released the OLED Switch last year. Therefore, if this is its upgrade to the middle generation, then the company should – and is – considering what to do next.
Video game prices have skyrocketed with this latest generation of consoles, with many major PlayStation 5 titles being released on $ 69.99 / 69 69.99, although pricing varies by game type, publisher, and budget. The Switch library has remained below this increase for the time being, but what the Switch’s successor will do is yet to be seen.
The company should also have a series of games and projects to be released for the system – which is no different from other versions – but with the release title of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as Switch and a really strong year with Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and a ton of great indie hits, there are some great shoes to fill in there too.
Reggie acknowledges that the transition will not be easy, as the Switch continues to dominate console sales worldwide. Its huge success can be difficult to reach the top, although as hardware sales slow due to chip shortages, how long does the console last and how ready will Nintendo need to be? We have repeatedly covered our thoughts on a “Switch 2”, most recently a few weeks ago after the company’s financial report:
We have to acknowledge James’ signature with Reggie – a sweet reference to a famous Reggie meme about Animal Crossing: New Leaf – to which Reggie replies “Actually, I have to go back and play some Switch games”. Well, here it is! Maybe Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
You can listen to the full one hour podcast on GamesIndustry.biz’s by clicking the link below.