Nintendo's Plan for "Redefining the Definition of Video Game Platforms" Around Two Years Away

Company has a "clear idea to some extent" on future hardware direction

Following the financial results issued last week, Nintendo has now issued the officially translated Q & A with shareholders in which company President Satoru Iwata addressed a series of tough questions, some of which concerned the company's plans over the next 2-3 years to bring back handsome profits.

It's clear, for example, that the company is being forced to think beyond this current financial year when outlining its strategies to return to its previous success. Touching upon ideas emphasized in January, Satoru Iwata moved to dampen expectations of dramatic hardware reveals in the near future, explaining that the company's bold plans to revolutionise gaming platforms is still a little while away, while repeating that the QOL (Quality of Life) platform will be unveiled in the current financial year ahead of its release next fiscal year.

Also, regarding what I mentioned at the Corporate Management Policy Briefing in January about our efforts to go into a new business area, namely our platform business that seeks to enrich people’s QOL (Quality of Life) in enjoyable ways, I would like to talk more specifically about the kind of business we have in mind within this year, and the current time frame we are working on puts the actual deployment of the initiative in the next fiscal year, with contributions to our profitability to follow in the following fiscal year. Moreover, I feel that we will be able to further stimulate our platform business by taking advantage of smart devices, and I think that we will be able to provide detailed information on this as well as some concrete results between the current and the next fiscal years. Also, the idea I mentioned about redefining the definition of video game platforms will also require approximately two years. This is how we would like to talk more about our mid-term measures and lead them to actual results. However, we will not be able to create a good environment for the company unless projects are undertaken simultaneously, so this is the kind of timeframe that we have in mind.

As has been previously stated, Nintendo is certainly aiming to provide greater connectivity and unity between its platforms, with plans for the Nintendo Network ID's increased role already partially in action with Wii U and 3DS. What Iwata-san has made clear is that one login will be key to play across multiple systems of various types — we'll all become more connected through the NNID.

I also mentioned in January (at the Corporate Management Policy Briefing) that we would change the definition of our platforms from being device-based to NNID-account-based. When our platforms are account-based, we can expand the number of applicable devices. In order to have rich and high-quality game experiences, we always want our users to play with our dedicated game systems that are specifically designed to provide such unique experiences, while at the same time, we may be able to select some portions of these games and make them available on other devices. Also, by encouraging users to interact with the physical figurines that I mentioned today, we may be able to create brand-new entertainment. In these ways, another critical point for us to carefully consider, or another key point for us, is how we can and should incorporate our entertainment offerings into the more fragmented time and opportunities of different consumers.

The issue of Nintendo's next hardware was naturally raised, especially in light of the Wii U's current struggles. It's been made clear that Nintendo is not short of ideas for its next product, but that it's still prioritising satisfying the current generation of gamers.

Once we launch a new platform, we naturally start to prepare for the next one. As it takes several years to develop a single platform, if you ask us whether we are preparing for our next system, then the correct response will be that we are always developing new hardware. On the other hand, the most difficult question for us to answer in public in concrete terms is when we are going to launch our new hardware and what kind of hardware we are going to launch, and I am afraid that I cannot talk about this in more detail. However, I can certainly assure you that we are not at a dead end of any kind in which we are out of ideas for developing new hardware. I of course believe that launching new hardware will not produce good results unless we first make sure that those who have already purchased our platforms are satisfied. We will continue to work hard to ensure that consumers who already own our platforms are satisfied, and make sure that people will continue to see great value in our software, but I would like to say that we are preparing for our next hardware system, and in fact, we already have a clear idea to some extent about the direction our next hardware is going to take.

It'll certainly be an interesting 2-3 years in the world of Nintendo, with its steps into NFC figurines, a QOL platform and the likely reveal of new hardware at the end of that period — remember the Wii U was first shown over a year before its release. Let us know what you think of Satoru Iwata's comments below.


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