Reggie on Switch’s demographic, third-party support, online plans, more
In a new interview conducted by TIME, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime weighed in a variety of topics pertaining to Switch. He talked about who the system is for, third-party support, online plans, and more. Interestingly, Reggie even acknowledged interest in a GameCube Virtual Console.
Find notable excerpts from the interview below. You can read up on the full discussion here.
On who Switch is for…
Just like every system Nintendo creates, we believe in having a very wide footprint, and we are experienced enough in this industry to know that the footprint changes over time. We believe that by [next holiday season], with the launch of Super Mario Odyssey, that the footprint for Nintendo Switch will be very broad. Kids, young adults, parents, gamers will occupy that footprint.
But what’s going to happen is that, that space is going to be filled in at each point in time with the subsequent launches. So for example, if you look at the first 45 days, you’ve got Zelda, 1-2 Switch, Mario Kart 8. So the active gamer. And candidly, the more the active gamer sees, the more excited they’re going to be for that game.
I was a Zelda fan before I was a Nintendo employee, and I can tell you that as I’ve experienced that game, it just gets me more and more excited to play. 1-2 Switch is a party in a box. And so that is going to be an all family type of experience that will then broaden the footprint. And then Mario Kart 8 is going to expand it even further. And so that’s what I see happening. A game like Arms will have a diverse footprint. A game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will be much more narrow.
And so, I think it’s the best way I could describe how the consumer base for Switch is going to evolve over time. And certainly by the end of our first full year, it’ll be kids, young adults, parents and gamers occupying that footprint.
On how the games at the press event feel core focused…
Yeah, and I read some of the same feedback from the video we launched in October. And it’s absolutely true, the actors we had were all young adults. And people suddenly read into it that Nintendo is abandoning the family market with Nintendo Switch.
Furthest from the truth, so again, we believe that our systems need to be mass market systems, from 5 to 95. A broad footprint. But each game is going to appeal to a certain part of that demographic. And it’ll fill out the base. That strategy continues. This is a system for everybody. This is a system that will appeal to a wide group. It’s going to get filled in over time as the different games come in.
On concerns of Switch getting games regularly and third-party support…
I think in all candor, as executives, we can only say so much, and then the consumer believes or doesn’t believe. However, if the question is Nintendo first party development, I can say that our pipeline is quite robust, in what we are working on and that we will deliver next year and early into the year after that. We have that visibility in our pipeline.
From a third party perspective, I don’t want to oversimplify things, but third party developers look for a handful of things. First, they look for a straightforward development environment in order to create their games. And that was one of the challenges with Wii U. Now with Nintendo Switch, we have Unity as a platform. We’ve got the Unreal Engine as a platform. These are known development environments for content creators to build content.
The second thing they look for is a consumer demographic that’s going to meet their needs for the content they’re creating. And so again, you’ve got Zelda for the core. You’ve got 1-2 Switch for the family audience. You’ve got Arms. You’ve got Splatoon. You’ve got Mario Kart 8. You’ve got Super Mario Odyssey. That looks like a pretty wide and diverse audience to build content for.
And third, they look for a large install base. That’s what we’re trying to create.
And then lastly, they look for a full range of ways to monetize their investment. And that’s where having a robust online environment comes in. And again we are pushing the envelope, we’re doing things differently, and we’re working hard to make sure that environment exists. So as an executive for the company, I believe we’re doing everything we need to, to create that environment for third parties. So far they’re reacting extremely positively. Bethesda hasn’t been on a Nintendo platform. A fully featured FIFA, that has not been on a Nintendo console in some time.
On whether it’ll be a challenge getting devs to think about motion control or haptic design…
If you’re EA, and hypothetically, I have to say hypothetically, you want to make sure that FIFA and Madden and Battlefield, you want to make sure that the games you create, better that anyone else, can be executed on this platform. It’s not that EA is suddenly going to try and learn how to make motion control games. If you’re Ubisoft and you’re trying to optimize Just Dance, certainly you want to make sure you’re able to do that for this new platform.
And so you know, from my perspective, what I want is the best content that third party does today. And I want the best content that they’re thinking about in the future. I’m not asking them to create games that are like the games that we would create. Because that doesn’t broaden the footprint, and doesn’t bring new consumers in to our proposition.
On whether Switch include a meta layer that follows players around and lets them keep those purchases…
First, there is much more that we will be sharing about our subscription service—the mechanics, the types of content that you’ll get access to, free, on a monthly basis, the price point for the overall service. All of that information will come.
Second point, as you know, we are very aware of what the consumer has articulated to date as to what they want. We are very aware of what our competitors do. The way Nintendo thinks about it, is we want to make the consumer happy, and we want to give them some of the elements that they have been asking for. And we want to give them things that they haven’t even thought of to ask. But, we also believe in differentiated experiences. We believe in doing things differently.
And so our overall proposition will not look the same as our competitors. But what we will do, is we will recognize what consumers like about our competitors, we will look to do it in a way that has a Nintendo flair to it. And we will look to make sure that in the end, we’ve got this robust, online environment that not only works well for our games, like Splatoon and Mario Kart and Smash Bros., but that also works great for our third party developers.
On whether Wii U was a failure…
I don’t recall who said it but, one of our executives said something similar — I think it might have been Mr. Miyamoto, the last time he was here in New York, where he made the comment “I hope consumers look back at Wii U as a necessary step, in order to get to Nintendo Switch.” Which is another way of saying what you did.
And it’s interesting, you know, as consumers think back, the fondness and the memories shift. I joined the company as GameCube was ending its life. And as we look at the install base of the platform, certainly it’s not one of our higher install base platforms. And yet it seems the talk now is all about how consumers are hoping that there’s a GameCube virtual console, which I just find interesting.
But yes, you can look at Nintendo Switch and certainly see a lineage, not only to Wii U, but as our Switch presentation highlighted, really to so many of our historical platforms. And there is certainly no mistake in that.