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Nintendo plots longer lifecycle for Switch

Firm wants to extend beyond the standard 'five or six years'

Nintendo Switch could be one the company's longest-lasting games console, says director and creative lead Shigeru Miyamoto.

He said that Nintendo's studios and creative teams might expect to work on the device longer than the standard five or six years that Nintendo machines exist before being replaced

Speaking in the firm's investor call, Miyamoto discussed the company's long-term ambition for the platform, which goes beyond attracting families to the product.

"The marketing strategy going forward is to instill a desire to purchase Nintendo Switch among a wide consumer base in all the regions of Japan, the US, and Europe," he stated.

"Our ultimate ambition is for a Nintendo Switch to be owned not just by every family, but by every single person. The biggest attraction of Nintendo Switch is that the console can be carried around and used easily for competitive gameplay via local wireless connection. If consumers come to take it for granted that everybody has a Nintendo Switch, then we can create new and very Nintendo genres of play, and Nintendo Switch can have a life apart from smart devices and other video game systems. Expanding the Nintendo Switch world this way is a means of eliminating risk."

Later, the senior Nintendo team discussed the firm's creative plans, which includes utilizing Switch's more unique features.

"When you think about what can be done with Nintendo Switch as a device that can be taken on the go and that every person has in their hands to play, you realize it has many features not available on any other hardware to date," Miyamoto continues.

"Nintendo also has a system in place whereby the software developers focus on these hardware features in their development efforts for the continuation of the Nintendo Switch business. Up until now, the hardware lifecycle has trended at around five or six years, but it would be very interesting if we could prolong that life cycle, and I think you should be looking forward to that."

Nintendo director Shinya Takahashi adds: "We are nurturing junior developers inside the company (to continue to create interesting products). Our developers understand how important it is this year to create both products that are fun to more people and products that even game fans will find compelling to play. Behind the unceasing stream of Nintendo Switch software releases to date is an approach to development that concentrates on development, itself the fruit of efforts several years ago to integrate the software development teams, which has made it easier to organize teams.

"Another major factor is our approach inside Nintendo whereby not just the software, hardware, and system development teams, but also the manufacturing, global marketing, and sales teams join together now for closer discussions about what can be developed when and what can be sold when."

In the call, the company also addressed the difference between the 14.8 million consoles sold-in to retail and the 13 million sold through to customers. The company says this number of available units is important if it wants to maintain stock at retail, and also noted that Latin America sales figures are not included in that 13 million due to poor reporting in those territories.

Elsewhere, Miyamoto also touched upon the firm's deal with Illumination to create the new Super Mario movie.

"I've been considering an animated film for many years now," he said in the call.

"There has long been talk that Nintendo could make a movie because "making a game is like making a movie.' But they are completely different to me. Interactive experiences are completely different from non-interactive media, and to make a movie I want a film expert to do the work.

"Thinking that way, I have talked with all sorts of different movie directors and producers, and eventually I was introduced to Illumination via Universal Parks & Resorts, with whom we are developing theme park attractions.

"As a producer, Chris Meledandri (Illumination's CEO) is noted here for movies like Minions and Sing, but he is a veteran with a ton of experience, including the movie Ice Age and stints at companies like 20th Century Fox Animation. When I talked with Chris, he said he had read a lot of interviews with me and felt we had a similar approach to creation. Talking about our similarities, we clicked and decided maybe we should do some kind of collaboration.

"We started our conversation over two years ago, and finally reached the stage where we could make an announcement. Chris is extremely cost-conscious and time-conscious in his quest to make successful movies. We decided to try making a movie together, and distributing the completed movie globally through Universal Pictures.

"We've talked together and share the feeling that if we can't make something interesting we'll just call it quits. But we've already met a number of times to hash out the screenplay, our talks together are progressing, and I hope to make an announcement once we've ironed out some things like the schedule."

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Latest comments (3)

Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 months ago
"Up until now, the hardware lifecycle has trended at around five or six years, but it would be very interesting if we could prolong that life cycle, and I think you should be looking forward to that."

So basically they want to do what Microsoft started last gen by extending the Xbox 360 beyond 5 years to 8 years with initiatives like Kinect and have continued this gen with Xbox One X. I'd say it's the right move for Nintendo to follow in but there will be one key difference going forward. Microsoft wants to extend this generation as well and in doing so will continue to make more powerful versions of Xbox One to keep up with technology. The Switch is doing really well but in 4 or 5 years will Nintendo be willing to make a remodeled system with more power or just a lighter more aesthetically pleasing one?

The story I read said that Nintendo was thinking of having the Switch run for a good 10 years and I think it's possibly but only if they are willing to give it a spec boost at some point in time.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee8 months ago
I'd be in favour of seeing iteration in terms of design and performance, but utilising the same games i.e. PS4 pro or mobile device model. Not much point in dropping a hardware platform in favour of a drastically new one, unless there's a fundamental flaw or limitation. Unlike the WiiU architecture for example, Switch lends itself well to this type of upgrade.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 months ago
Paul, I think devices like the Wii and Switch prove you don't need to keep up with the power arms race of MS and Sony to be successful. You just need to offer a differentiated product with mass appeal.
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