Phil Harrison may be concerned with investing in new game companies these days but he's got a long and proud history as a major player in the industry. He was instrumental in launching the PlayStation at Sony in the mid-90s and eventually rose to the position of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president before parting with the Japanese firm in 2008. In 2012, he would join Sony's rival Microsoft as corporate vice president, where he would work until his departure in 2015.
Having held senior roles at these two massive companies, Harrison is perfectly positioned to comment on the current state of the games sector. In an interview during last week's Gamelab event he reveals that he has been "surprised" by the Nintendo Switch:
GamesBeat: From the sidelines, where do you see the big three here and how well they’re doing?
Harrison: Nintendo has surprised me in a good way. They’ve put some excitement back in, or at least added a dynamic to the console equation that wasn’t there previously. From my focus group of a household with younger children, Switch is definitely the console that gets used. Mainly because of the content types. Surprisingly, the TV-to-mobile use case works way more effectively than I expected. I really enjoy that.
GamesBeat: That seems to be what they tried to do with the Wii U, but it didn’t take. It may have been too early. The tethered tablet may have been a real problem.
Harrison: The tablet mode on Wii U just wasn’t powerful enough. It was rendered as a single frame from the console sent wirelessly from the console to the device. The Switch combined both modes into one and just switched the power state. When you’re tethered you get access to more wattage on the CPU and GPU. Maybe that technology didn’t exist when they were developing the Wii U. I suspect not. A great idea is about timing as much as it is about technology.
Nintendo has certainly become a disruptive influence with the Switch; the console is selling incredibly well and provided a new way to game to legions of gamers. If it can turn the head of someone like Harrison, then it bodes well for the future of the platform and Nintendo in general.