Nintendo France – more unannounced third-party games for Switch coming, mobile talk, amiibo is here to stay
We recently came across an interview French website Gamekult conducted at E3. The site caught up with Philippe Lavoué, managing director of Nintendo France. Since we felt it was interesting enough, we decided to go ahead with a full, proper translation.
In the interview, Lavoué touched on many different topics. This includes Switch and third-parties (more games are coming), mobile, and the staying power of amiibo.
We’ve posted the fully translated interview below. Just keep in mind the context of when it was conducted – specifically for questions such as a NES Classic Edition followup.
Gamekult: How would you assess the first months of the Switch in France?
Philippe Lavoué, managing director of Nintendo France: We’ve sold 250,000 units on the French market between its launch on March 3rd and last week. This market is in a shortage situation at the moment, but it should improve progressively before the end of the year. We’re targeting an installed base of one million systems in the twelve first months.
Are you running ahead of your objectives in spite of this shortage?
Yes, we’re exceeding what we had planned.
What are the best-selling titles so far?
It’s a combination of several titles. Zelda: Breath of the Wild has received nearly unanimous reviews and its attach rate with the console is close to 1:1, which is remarkable. But it’s not just Zelda. 1-2 Switch also sells very well and achieved its mission to entertain a general audience. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has had a stratospheric launch. You could say the console is well-born and helped by a very dynamic lineup that will continue to unfold, as we can see here at E3. We have roughly one game every month.
ARMS launches this Friday, and we think it will renew the Nintendo-style fighting game genre, with an emphasis on motion sensing and a level of accuracy that is quite remarkable, as you probably had the chance to experience. Then there is Splatoon 2 to be released this summer, Super Mario Odyssey which is showcased just here… We truly have a strong lineup.
What measures have you taken to face the supply issues, especially ahead of the holiday season?
At the French subsidiary, the watchword is to “buy, buy, buy” (laughs). Our role is to place orders, to let our parent company know that the demand is very high and provide it with every assessment of the French market to ensure that the latter is supplied in volume. However, I must admit that we have no precise action on the production line; it is managed by our parent company, which pays great attention to our estimations.
Is the French market still the strongest in Europe for Nintendo when it comes to the Switch?
It is way too early to tell. You know, launching a console is more of a marathon than a sprint. We’re in a favorable situation but we have to keep a cool head. The first million is our primary goal, a critical mass that will allow us to have players talking positively about the console. We’ve had a good launch, the next step will be decisive.
Going on that topic, how would you answer to those who say that Nintendo is focusing on its target audience with this launch, and not yet on a broader one?
It’s all in the definition of the Nintendo public, which is very broad. Nintendo’s ambition has always been to develop games for everyone. Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2-Switch are good illustrations of our developers’ ability to connect with all types of audiences. Before being a company, we are a group of developers. What drives Nintendo – and you can see it today at the expo, with Mr. Miyamoto, Mr. Tezuka, the creators of Nintendo are here, the creators of Splatoon 2 are here, to attend the tournaments and gather feedback about the game. (Translator’s note: Lavoué didn’t finish his sentence) Nintendo is driven by passionate people above all.
So yes, we can have games in our lineup that will appeal to core fans, like Metroid Prime, as well as innovative concepts like our collaboration with Ubisoft and the Raving Rabbids or an all new Mario game with a wholly unexpected use of the hat. It’s all about that range of possibilities, which is extremely large and has to involve as many players as possible, if they so decide.
In spite of this, aren’t you afraid that this console might remain a secondary system, especially considering the third-party offers, which are rather discreet as we saw on the E3 floor or during the Nintendo Showcase? (Translator’s note: They may be referring to the Nintendo Spotlight)
Indeed, it’s a challenge, but there are positive signs. Electronic Arts will release FIFA 18 day-one on Switch: it’s a strong message, something we can be proud of since it comes from the game that sells the most in volume in France. The novel, crossover approach with Ubisoft is also very interesting. NBA 2K18 will be on the console, even though it is less visible as we speak, and there are also other projects that I know about but which weren’t officially announced.
Be it NBA, FIFA or even Skyrim, we’re talking about games that were announced at the same time as the Switch. Apart from those, we don’t really have a clear view of third-party initiatives. Is it because developers have chosen to wait until the console’s reception is known, which would explain their discretion at E3?
It’s important to remember that there are two dimensions to communication: one is meant for the public, and the other is business-to-business. Everyone allocates their communication according to their priorities, as well as a very dense competitive landscape. And those concerns aren’t always aimed towards the consumer. For instance, as a big fan of NBA 2K18, I’d say it’s an important game and yet I don’t believe it’s visible enough in the expo. FIFA 18 is great news, Skyrim is great news, Ubisoft’s commitment to an exclusive co-development is also very good news.
What’s the right mix between our games and those of others? I can’t say. In our industry, remember that a single game can make the difference. Take the 3DS in 2016: it was the only platform in progression at a worldwide scale. Just in France, Pokémon Sun and Moon sold a million units since its launch in November. A 7-year-old console and a 1990s franchise: it can work.