Nintendo says the transition to the next console is ‘a big concern for us’

Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has said that the company’s eventual transition away from Nintendo Switch to its next hardware platform is “a major concern” for the company.

Speaking at a Japanese investor Q&A this week (translated by VGC contributor Robert Sephazon), Furukawa said the company plans to mitigate the risks of resetting its 100 million+ user base by building “long-lasting relationships” with its users, partly through Nintendo accounts and by using its IP outside of gaming.

Furukawa answered a question about how Nintendo has been able to maintain a strong game release schedule six years into its Switch lifecycle, and what its thoughts were about moving to the next hardware platform.

In its recent history, Nintendo has followed up great successes such as Wii (101.6 million sold) and DS (154 million sold) with considerably less popular successors (Wii U sold 13.5 million and 3DS managed 75 million), and Furukawa said the company was aware of these experiences.

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“We’ve already announced that part of our software roadmap will be released until next spring,” he said. “Unlike the past, we still have a wide variety of games scheduled to be released even after five years. This is because the Nintendo Switch has had such a smooth launch, allowing us to focus all our development resources on a single platform.

“However, whether we will be able to transition from Nintendo Switch to the next generation of hardware just as smoothly is a major concern for us. Based on our experience with the Wii, Nintendo DSand other hardware, it’s very clear that one of the biggest hurdles is how to easily switch from one hardware to another.

“To help mitigate this risk, we focus on building long-term relationships with our customers. While we continue to launch new software on Nintendo Switch, we will also be offering services that also use Nintendo Accounts and other IP outside of gaming software. We intend to build a lasting impact with our customers.”

Furukawa rather seemed to hint that some form of backward compatibility can be used for its next game console, to “maintain and expand” the Switch audience of more than 100 million users.

Speaking to investors in February, the president said of Nintendo’s next-gen console plans: “There are currently nearly 100 million users a year playing, and going forward it’s important to consider how we can maintain and expand that number. will also be essential as we consider our plan for the next hardware platform.”

Nintendo says the transition to the next console is 'a big concern for us'

On Tuesday, Nintendo announced Switch hardware sales of 23.06 million for the fiscal year ending March 2022, bringing lifetime sales to 107.6 million. The figure brings the company closer to beating PS2‘s record (155 million), but it still represents a 20% drop from the previous year, when Switch sales peaked at 28.83 million units.

Officially, the company has said that it believes Switch is still in the middle stage of its life cycle and that it is looking for a sixth year of growth, helped by the new OLED model.

Nintendo stated last May that investment in the successor of Switch contributed to a record amount of annual research and development expenditure at the company.

And at its financial results briefing in November, the company said it was still internal discuss the concept and launch timing for the next game system

President Shuntaro Furukawa discussed: Nintendo’s approach to developing and launching new gaming hardware in a Nikkei interview (paywall) published in February.

“The hardware and software development teams are in the same building, communicating closely and thinking about how we can envision new forms of entertainment,” he said.

“To make one piece of hardware, we have to prepare a lot several years in advance, so we work without stopping. Ultimately, the deciding factor in whether or not a product is commercialized is whether it can create a new experience.”