Nintendo President has Bigger Plans for Switch

Nintendo President has Bigger Plans for Switch

Nintendo’s new gaming console Switch is part of a bigger plan that will include more accessories, a deeper lineup of software and possible tie-ups with other technologies, according to Bloomberg. In his first interview since unveiling the brand-new flagship product, President Tatsumi Kimishima said details about add-ons will be available in the new year. Kyoto-based Nintendo said earlier on Thursday that it will announce pricing and a specific launch date for Switch on Jan. 13, followed by an event where the public can try it out.

“By no means was that everything,” Kimishima said, referring to a video a week ago that introduced the product’s name and showed Switch being used as both a console and portable device featuring modular controllers and accessories. Nintendo’s stock declined after the three-minute clip was released, which Kimishima said was unexpected. "To tell you the truth, I was surprised," Kimishima said. "I don’t understand why."

Getting Nintendo back on track is a top priority for Kimishima, who became president a year ago after the death of his predecessor, Satoru Iwata. Quarterly results released this week underscore how Nintendo’s core business is getting weaker due to a stronger yen that reduced the income earned abroad, as well as sharp declines in hardware and software sales. Even the success of Pokemon Go wasn’t enough to make up for sluggish sales, which have declined every fiscal year since 2009, when the Wii console was at the peak of its success.

"While the three-minute video helped consumers and investors understand the concept of Switch, both are still in the dark on price, specs and games," said Daniel Ahmad, analyst at Niko Partners. "Nintendo will need to deliver an excellent presentation in January to address these issues." Kimishima suggested that the Switch is part of a bigger ecosystem. "It may be appropriate to call them accessories. Or it might be better to call them add-on hardware. It’s probably more correct to call them accessories. You can assume that there will be a wider array."

As for Switch’s software, he said Nintendo made a deliberate decision not to disclose specific titles: "One thing we still can’t show is the software lineup. We want people to touch the device in January and experience the software for themselves." A dearth of software releases for the Wii U has been cited as one of the reasons the console was never able to match the earlier Wii in sales. Nintendo envisions many different scenarios where Switch can be used, such as a family, one person alone - or even by someone who doesn’t have a TV, Kimishima said. "What you see in the video, however, is the core product," he said.

Asked whether Switch would work with hardware from other companies, Kimishima ruled out the possibility for now, but said "we are interested in VR," referring to virtual-reality technology. "VR offers new ways of playing, but that depends on what kind of software can be played," he said. "If you ask us whether there are any possibilities, we can’t say no. It may be that we will build VR software titles, I think that opportunity is available to us." He declined to give more specific forecasts for the Switch beyond the one disclosed this week, which is that Nintendo will sell 2 million units in its first month after it goes on sale in March.

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