When the Nintendo Switch launches next month, it will do so with just two major Nintendo games: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the casual-focused 1-2-Switch. The lineup of third-party releases for day one isn't much deeper, prompting criticisms that Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima addressed in a post-earnings results briefing posted on the company's site today.
"Some of those who have seen this lineup have expressed the opinion that the launch lineup is weak," Kimishima said. "Our thinking in arranging the 2017 software lineup is that it is important to continue to provide new titles regularly without long gaps. This encourages consumers to continue actively playing the system, maintains buzz, and spurs continued sales momentum for Nintendo Switch."
Interestingly, this is the same reasoning Nintendo gave investors for the Wii U's thin first-party launch lineup five years ago. Unfortunately for Nintendo, the Wii U strategy fell apart when Wii U launch window titles like Pikmin 3, Wii Fit U, The Wonderful 101, and Game & Wario were delayed, prompting Satoru Iwata to apologize for a post-launch drought of new titles. This is something of a running theme for the company, as Nintendo of America executive Reggie Fils-Aime cited the need to avoid gaps between big releases as one of the biggest lessons the company took from the GameCube in the run-up to the Wii's launch over a decade ago.
Kimishima also addressed speculation that the Switch's introduction will signal the beginning of the end for the 3DS, which is now nearly six years old.
"We have heard speculation that Nintendo Switch will replace the Nintendo 3DS, as both are game systems that can be played outside the home, but Nintendo 3DS has unique characteristics that differ from those of Nintendo Switch," Kimishima said. "Furthermore, the price points and play experiences offered by the two systems are different and we do not see them as being in direct competition. We plan to continue both businesses separately and in parallel."
He pointed to Nintendo's slate of in-development 3DS titles like Pikmin, Mario Sports Superstars, two Fire Emblem games, and Yoshi's Wooly World as evidence of continued support, and also noted anticipated third-party titles like Dragon Quest XI and Monster Hunter XX in the works for the system.
"We will have several follow-up titles from popular franchises on Nintendo 3DS and we are developing many other unannounced titles to continue to enrich the software lineup going forward," he added.
Touching on the rest of the company's business, Kimishima addressed the shortage of Nintendo NES Classic Edition consoles, apologizing and saying the company is working to increase production on the retro system. To date, the various regional versions of the NES Classic have combined to sell through 1.5 million units worldwide.
Less encouraging was the company's update on Amiibo. Over the first three quarters of its fiscal year, Nintendo shipped 6.5 million of the toys-to-life collectibles. That's compared to 20.5 million toys the company shipped in the comparable period of the previous year.