Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime: Why Switch is different from Wii U – USA TODAY
NEW YORK â Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime is ready for the question of what went wrong with the companyâs poor selling Wii U video game console and how the fortunes of the make-or-break Nintendo Switch will be different when it launches March 3 for just under $300.
âI would say the greatest challenge we had with the Wii U was being crystal clear in our communication of what the product was and what the product could do,” he told USA TODAY on Friday. “When we first showed off the Wii U for example it was misinterpreted that it was simply a tablet and not a device that truly was connected to your TV and could create two-screen types of gaming experiences. With Nintendo Switch we are being very aggressive and clearly communicating the proposition that itâs a home console you can take on the go wherever and whenever you wantâ¦ Weâre working hard to make sure itâs going to be a success.â
Indeed, in the house, the tablet-like device slides into a dock that is connected to the television, with players using standard video game controllers to have a go at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, or other upcoming titles.
Then, when itâs time to bolt for work or school, players can remove the tablet, which has a 6.2-inch screen, and use a pair of “Joy-con” controllers on each side to barely miss a beat. Joy-Cons can be used independently in each hand, or together as one game controller when attached to the Joy-Con grip.
Switch is not meantÂ to replace the handheld Nintendo 3DS video game system that the company has been selling for years, and which Fils-Aime says had six straight months of year-on-year growth at the end of last year, with Nintendo selling more software for the system in October, November and December than it ever has.
âThe 3DS business is incredibly vibrant and with a continuing flow of software itâs going to stay vibrant,â Fils-Aime insists.
Still, Nintendo needs a hit following the Wii U’s failures, and given the fierce competition in the video games space posed by such traditional console rivals as Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox, and in mobile gaming on iOS and Android devices.
In one important metric, Fils-Aime says the reaction to Switch from third party developers has been strong, with more than 50 such partners embracing the new system, with more than 80 games under development.
Nintendo has been attempting to leverageÂ its own intellectual property across numerous businesses. It recently teamed up with Universal to announced upcoming Nintendo themed areas at Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando, Hollywood and Japan. Last month it released Super Mario Run for the iPhone, with an Android version still to come. And Fils-Aime says that more near-impossible-to-findÂ NES Classic consoles, the miniaturized version of a product released in 1985 and a hot holiday seller, are going into retail.
âOur thought process is across all of our IPâthereâll be certain executions that will be for the Nintendo Switch, thereâll be different executions on mobile, different executions for Nintendo 3DS. The core is (driving) more awareness, more engagement, more love for the particular franchise,â Fils-Aime says.
Unlike rival Sony, which dove into virtual reality with PlayStation VR, Nintendo continues to resist the technology. Nor does Switch support 4K resolutions.
âWe see ourselves as a mass market mainstream company. We have the pride in Game Boy (selling) over 100 million units, the Wii having sold over 100 mill units, the Nintendo 3DS on a global basis over 70 million units. That is our sweet spot. What we do in creating our hardware, is we use some very specialized technologyâthe technology in Joy-Con is quite sophisticatedâbut we put it together in a way that is a very approachable price point for the consumer.â
Nintendo has announced that it will ship 2 million Switch units when it launches, which Fils-Aime says given the non-holiday period timing of the release, is a lot of hardware.
âWe are preparing to have a very robust supply out there in the marketplace. What I can never anticipate is whatâs the overall level of demand? But our commitment is we want every consumer who wants a Nintendo Switch to be able to buy one. I am not successful if I am frustrating consumers with them not being able to buy our product.â
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