— The Nintendo Switch, released to the world Friday,
had the best-selling 48 hours out of the gate in North
America of any video-game console ever made by the
feat is remarkable, Nintendo of America President Reggie
Fils-Aime said in an interview, because the Switch was
released on a weekend in early March, rather than during
the run-up to the game industry’s peak sales period
during the holiday season.
didn’t offer sales figures but said the company
planned to ship 2 million consoles to retailers
worldwide this month.
challenge now is meeting that consumer demand,"
of those devices will likely pass through the company’s
Seattle-area production and distribution facility. Down
the road is Nintendo’s North American headquarters,
where the company handles translation, marketing and
some game and hardware development.
told, Nintendo says it employs about 1,000 people in
new Switch, which converts from traditional home-console
TV mode into a mobile device that people can play on the
go, is another effort by Nintendo to expand the
potential audience for its games, which historically
have catered to children and families.
the interview, Fils-Aime talked about the company’s
strategic break from its rivals, virtual reality and
plans for the console. Answers have been edited for
length and clarity.
With Microsoft and Sony packing high-powered hardware
into their living-room consoles, what was the thinking
that led to this strikingly different mobile concept?
Nintendo believes in things that are unique for the
marketplace. What we saw was an unmet need of consumers
to take their home console experience with them wherever
they go — to have that big-screen TV experience when
they’re sitting in their living room, but to be
completely immersed in the same game when they’re out
on the go. It was that key consumer insight.
What’s the target audience for the Switch?
We want our platforms and our content to appeal to
everyone; we talk about our target market as 5 to 95
(years old). And in this first few days of launch, you
really see that. Historically, we’ve been able to
deliver on that type of promise.
The Wii U struggled to draw top games built by other
companies. What’s different this time?
If there’s anything we did differently this time
around, we got two of the most used (game development)
platforms — the Unity game engine as well as the
Unreal game engine — that are both compatible for our
system. That’s bringing a lot of content to the
platform. I would frame that as something that we spent
quite a bit of time to line up.
is content coming that really has never been on a
Nintendo platform, in terms of sports content, in terms
of some of the broad-reaching epic types of games, as
well as some independent games.
What about virtual reality?
It’s a space that we are interested in. But having
said that, we like social experiences, we like
experiences that the entire family can participate in.
And we like experiences that are for the mainstream. It’s
an area we continue to study, but at this point we’ve
got nothing more to say as to our own designs. As a
consumer, there just isn’t a compelling experience out
Netflix and video apps are absent from the Switch. Is
this console just a gaming device or is other
entertainment a part of it?
Our development focus was creating a game-playing
machine. That’s going to continue to be our focus.
are having conversations with companies like Netflix and
Amazon and Hulu, all of the companies that make a range
of different applications. Certainly those types of
experiences will come to the platform.
What’s Nintendo’s thought on the couple of
travel-ban executive orders from the Trump
administration? Any issues in the last couple months
with U.S.-based employees trapped abroad?
Nintendo, along with our trade association the
(Entertainment Software Association), has been public in
saying that we welcome all our employees and we’re
fortunate that our company is made up of a range of
different ethnicities and backgrounds.
did not have any of those issues the last go-round,
thankfully. But again, we do business globally. For us
to succeed, we need the very best talent, wherever they
may come from. The issues raised by (the first)
executive order were quite troubling for us.