The Switch has been on the market for just over three years at this point, and while it still has a good few years of life left in it, Nintendo will no doubt have half an eye on the future. We already know about Sony and Microsoft's plans for the next-generation, but what will Nintendo do when the time comes to move on from Switch?
At the company's 80th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, this very question was put to Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa and director Ko Shiota. Furukawa explains that Nintendo wants "to extend the life cycle of Nintendo Switch", which comes as no surprise given its success, but Shiota notes that the company has been given "a renewed sense of the value" of a dedicated gaming platform.
Could you tell us about the outlook for your next game system? Game hardware has always displayed an image on a TV or other kind of screen while you do something, and I think that’s where the limits for this format are. Would the hardware you’re thinking about go beyond those limits?
Shuntaro Furukawa (Representative Director and President):
Our current generation game system, Nintendo Switch, has entered its fourth year since launch, but its momentum is increasing. We believe there are two factors behind this. First is the existence of two hardware configurations with different characteristics, in Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite. The second factor is that Nintendo’s development resources are concentrated on developing content for a single platform, Nintendo Switch. We want to extend the life cycle of Nintendo Switch while maximising such advantages.
Ko Shiota (Director, Senior Executive Officer):
In addition to the performance aspects (higher technical specifications), Nintendo’s dedicated video game platforms are developed with a focus on providing a comfortable environment for consumers to play fun software. From the perspective of playing with the image displayed on a TV, we believe that because consumers can play Nintendo Switch on a TV or the game console screen itself, it has greatly increased the opportunities for gameplay in various scenes in their lives, compared to previous consoles. Through Nintendo Switch, we’ve made many discoveries about where a dedicated video game platform can fit into a consumer’s daily life. We see scenes on social media of children and their families sitting around a game console to play, which gives us a renewed sense of the value of our dedicated video game platform. We will utilise these experiences in carefully considering the form our future game consoles will take.
So what can we deduce from this? Shiota's comments highlight the fact that Nintendo sees great potential in its current setup with Switch, partly thanks to its hybrid TV and handheld nature appealing to a large audience, but also thanks to Nintendo's new ability to put all of its focus into a single system. No longer is Nintendo splitting its handheld and home console efforts across two machines, nor is it having to try to convince customers to pick up two different consoles.
If Nintendo will "utilise these experiences" when considering future consoles, does that mean we'll see a similar, single-system setup going forward? Perhaps keeping the hybrid nature of the Switch, but with more bells and whistles to keep up with rival platforms?
We're sure fans are more than happy for the Switch to live on for a good while yet, but it will be fascinating to see where Nintendo heads from here when the time comes. Feel free to share your predictions with us in the comments below.