Nintendo won’t be drawn on when it will release a successor to the Switch, but president Shuntaro Furukawa has made it clear that the company aims not to repeat the same mistakes as it did when moving from Wii to Wii U, and DS to 3DS.
In the company’s latest financial briefing Q&A, an attendee asked Furukawa how Nintendo aimed to move on from the Switch smoothly when it chooses to release next-generation hardware. While Furukawa didn’t directly acknowledge new hardware, or when it might arrive, he pointed out that the company is aiming to learn from its past mistakes:
“Looking back on past experiences of generational change such as the change from the Wii and Nintendo DS eras, we recognize that one of our tasks is ensuring the transition to future generations of hardware is as smooth as possible,” he said.
Nintendo saw enormous success with the Wii and DS (the latter of which remains its best-selling hardware of all time), but their successors, Wii U and 3DS, both suffered very rocky launches. While 3DS recovered to some extent, Wii U became one of Nintendo’s most notable failures, with production ending just 5 years after launch. Much of the problem for both machines were their similarities to their predecessors, with many customers unclear on what had been upgraded, and whether they even needed the new hardware.
Switch, which has combined Nintendo’s home and handheld hardware businesses, is still going strong in its fifth year on sale, but Nintendo is clearly thinking about how to bring a large portion of its 100 million owners with it to the next generation. The aim appears to be to get Nintendo fans to connect with Nintendo in more places than simply their Switch:
“We are focusing on building long-term relationships with our consumers (through Nintendo Accounts),” continued Furukawa. “While continuing to release new Nintendo Switch software for consumers to enjoy, we aim to maintain relationships across hardware generations through services that utilize Nintendo Accounts and by providing opportunities for them to experience our IP through other non-gaming channels.”
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As for when Nintendo will release a new console, that remains more hazy. Rumours have swirled for over a year around the existence of an upgraded Switch model – which many have dubbed the Switch Pro – but Nintendo has repeatedly denied them.
Given that Switch itself continues to see massive success, both in hardware and software, it would make some sense for Nintendo to attempt to keep that audience in place, but whether its next console is an upgrade or a fully-fledged new machine remains unclear.