With Wii U getting closer, and various opinions swirling around about the system's capabilities and even Nintendo's long term future in the industry, Satoru Iwata has spoken to Gamasutra to once again outline Nintendo's philosophy and plans.
On the subject of profitability, Iwata has reiterated that the company expects last year's losses to be a one-off, further stating that the 3DS hardware will make a profit on each unit in the near future. He also made clear that Wii U pricing would be set with the current market in mind, acknowledging the level of competition that it faces.
Our intention is to return to profitability after just one year of losing money. I just cannot say that it's a good thing for Nintendo at all to record an annual loss for two or more years in a row. … The [loss of the] past year is due to the 3DS hardware sales. We were selling hardware below the cost, so this year we are already recovering and improving the profitability of the 3DS.
The pricing of Wii U is going to be one of the most important elements when it is going to be launched. The environment is different. Wii U is going to be launching in a different environment than when the Wii was launched. Also, the involvement surrounding [mobile and social] businesses is different than several years ago.
On the touchy issue of Wii U's processing power, which has been the subject of many contradictory comments from developers and analysts, Iwata maintained that it's a device with sufficient power to provide the experiences that the company aims to deliver. He also makes the point that doom has been predicted for the company before, with Wii in particular defying the odds.
Even when we were going to launch the Wii system, there were a lot of voice[s] saying 'Nintendo should stop making hardware'. The reasoning behind that was Nintendo would not have any chance against Microsoft and Sony. The fact of the matter was: I did not think Nintendo should compete against these companies with the same message and same entertainment options for people.
We have not changed our strategy. In other words, we just do not care what kind of 'more beef' console Microsoft and Sony might produce in 2013. Our focus is on how we can make our new console different than [others].
Not caring about the 'beef' of rival's next-gen systems will delight some and worry others, depending on whether they agree with Nintendo's current philosophy. Where do you stand? Do you feel reassured whenever Iwata and colleagues repeat these messages, or does it concern you?