Over recent months we've often highlighted, in editorials and otherwise, that Nintendo's early focus on describing Switch as a 'home gaming system' may have made marketing sense - in terms of keeping the 3DS relevant - but is unlikely to reflect consumer reality. For some the system will primarily be a home console, but with battery life not too much worse than a 3DS, in reality, those that love gaming on the go may feel it's a super-charged portable. It's both, of course, and can mean different things depending on each individual gamer.
It's pleasing, then, to see two senior Nintendo staff cutting past the early marketing and addressing that angle. TIME has posted an interview with Director Shinya Takahashi and Switch Producer Yoshiaki Koizumi talking about the system, with Koizumi-san being recognisable for his prominent role showcasing the concept and the Joy-Con in January's Tokyo Presentation.
One of the most interesting sets of answers relates to that hybrid nature of the hardware, and how that'll tap into different expectations depending on the gamer. Intriguingly, it's highlighted that the lifecycle could reflect that dual-purpose reality; home consoles typically have a solid lifespan (though Sony and Microsoft are changing this) while portable iterations every few years have been common from Nintendo.
Takahashi-san: It is Nintendo Switch, so maybe we'll switch it up! Certainly, we've designed Nintendo Switch in a way that it can be used by consumers in the way that best suits them. I think we may see that people who have bought a Nintendo home console in the past traditionally, they may treat Switch like a home console and buy it and use it for a long period of time.
Whereas people who have been traditionally Nintendo handheld gamers, they may buy Nintendo Switch and then for example, if a new version were to come out later, then maybe they would decide to upgrade to that. Or, for example, because you can take the Joy-Con off the system, then I guess that leaves open the possibility of something else that might get attached. There's obviously a lot of different developments that we could look at from that perspective as well.
Koizumi-san: We're hoping that Nintendo Switch will be a system that will be the constant in your gaming life. Whereas previously, you would play certain things on your home system and certain things on your handheld. Our hope is that Nintendo Switch can be the system that bridges both of those and becomes the constant system that you're always using.
Certainly, I'm sure you're very busy and I'm very busy and maybe we don't have as much time to play games as we would like. But my hope is that with Nintendo Switch being a system that you can play at home and bring with you, we're going to be able to find more of those moments where we're able to play the games that we all enjoy and be able to enjoy them that much more.
The two senior managers also tackled the concept vs. power angle that always does the rounds when Nintendo hardware is around the corner. Unsurprisingly, they discuss how the capabilities of the system help gamers connect to games in new ways.
Takahashi-san: You're asking this question to two individuals at Nintendo who come from an art background and the computer graphics background. We tend to be among the pushiest when it comes to graphics within the company. That being said, as we mentioned before, at Nintendo we feel like we're an entertainment company rather than necessarily a games or a graphics company. Our priority is always on trying to create new and fun forms of entertainment. That's the top priority.
Certainly, graphic quality falls somewhere within our priority, but our feeling is that Nintendo Switch is a system that really has the best balance of being able to create fun and new ways to play, but doing so with the graphic quality that's still good enough while also being one that's easy to develop for.
Koizumi-san: Graphics and frame rate are important in terms of how you're connecting with or how you're moving the heart of the player who's immersed in that world. Nintendo Switch also has something else that can connect with that player in the form of the HD Rumble, where you can be immersed in that world, but you can actually feel in your hands the sensation of something in that world that you haven't been able to feel before that adds a new layer of immersion to go along with the graphics and the frame rate.
I think when you start to look at the total package of tools that Nintendo Switch has to help bring those worlds to life, I think you'll find that it has some unique ways to connect with you as a player and move you in ways that you haven't necessarily experienced before.
It's certainly well worth a read, with both men also talking up the ease of development for third-parties and their efforts last year to pitch the console to developers and publishers in person.
In fairness to Nintendo, its current websites and recent promotional videos have backed off the 'home gaming system' focus and instead focused on the diversity of what the system can do, and how it suits so many different settings. It'll only become clear in good time whether the Switch concept will take off and excite the wider gaming public, but we think there are reasons to be hopeful that its unique approach could pay dividends for the company.