Nin­tendo de­buts hotly an­tic­i­pated Nin­tendo Switch con­sole

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Yuri Kageyama

TOKYO» Nin­tendo is try­ing to Switch it up.

The Ja­panese video-game com­pany re­vealed de­tails Fri­day about its hotly an­tic­i­pated Nin­tendo Switch, a video game con­sole that also serves as a hand­held gam­ing de­vice, dur­ing a global roll­out on Fri­day.

The price in the U.S. will be $300, a bit above the $200 to $250 that an­a­lysts were ex­pect­ing. It will de­but March 3. The Switch is the first ma­jor hy­brid con­sole/hand-held gam­ing de­vice.

“Nin­tendo Switch is a new way to play,” said Nin­tendo of Amer­ica pres­i­dent Reg­gie Fils Aime at a packed event in New York, where sev­eral hun­dred re­porters tried out games in­clud­ing the fan­tasy game “Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and the

fight­ing game “Arms” on the de­vice.

Hop­ing to end a dry spell

Nin­tendo needs the Switch to

be a hit. Its pre­vi­ous game con­sole, the Wii U, faded quickly, and its 3DS hand­held was also a dis­ap­point­ment. The one-time king of the video-game con­sole has since been largely eclipsed by the Sony Play Sta­tion 4 and Mi­crosoft’s Xbox One.

The com­pany has also been try­ing to catch up in mo­bile games, hav­ing largely missed a ma­jor shift to smart­phones and tablets. “Poke­mon Go,” an aug­mented-re­al­ity smart­phone game based on mon­ster char­ac­ters fea­tured in Nin­tendo video games, was a sur­prise hit last sum­mer — but Nin­tendo didn’t cre­ate it.

Nin­tendo fi­nally made a big push into mo­bile with “Su­per Mario Run” for the iPhone, which launched in De­cem­ber. The app be­came the high­est gross­ing game in 11 coun­tries a few hours af­ter its re­lease on Dec. 15, ac­cord­ing to App An­nie, mak­ing over $4 mil­lion world­wide in con­sumer spend­ing on its first day. But by Christ­mas, it had fallen from the top, and it

now ranks as the 26th top­gross­ing game in the U.S. App Store.

An­a­lysts say the Switch needs to win over new, younger play­ers who may not be hard­core game fans — and who now might be daunted by its hefty price tag. Many had hoped the Switch might sell for closer to $200. In Ja­pan, the con­sole will sell for 29,980 yen (about $260). Nin­tendo didn’t re­lease prices for other coun­tries.

In­vestors were un­der­whelmed, send­ing Nin­tendo stock sink­ing in Tokyo trad­ing af­ter the an­nounce­ment. It closed the day down 5.5 per­cent.

Meet the switch

The Switch fea­tures a large hand-held con­troller de­signed for both hands that works with the con­sole. You can also snap off the sides of that con­troller to serve as sep­a­rate left- and right-hand re­motes, which Nin­tendo calls Joy-Cons, for two-handed play — sort of like Nin­tendo’s older Wii con­trollers.

But there’s more to the Switch’s Lego-like tricks. You can also slide a flat screen re­sem­bling a tablet out of the main con­sole and at­tach the Joy-Cons to it, and sud­denly you have a new in­de­pen­dent hand-held gam­ing de­vice.

All that makes it pos­si­ble to use the Switch as a reg­u­lar hand­held, put the dis­play on a ta­ble, or use a TV screen as a mon­i­tor.

Nin­tendo is promis­ing an im­mer­sive, in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence with the Switch, in­clud­ing on­line play and let­ting you use the re­mote con­troller for games that don’t re­quire con­stant at­ten­tion to a dis­play.

Nin­tendo of­fi­cials in Ja­pan used the Joy-Cons to play a gun-duel game. Mo­tion sen­sors of­fer tac­tile feed­back from games, such as feel­ing vir­tual wa­ter poured into a vir­tual cup. In an­other game, char­ac­ters’ arms swirled out dur­ing com­bat when play­ers punched the air while hold­ing the con­trollers.

“It’s a to­tally new kind of game,” said Kouichi Kawamoto, who over­saw “1-2-Switch,” a gun-duel game that re­quires play­ers to look each other in the eye. “It’s about hav­ing fun with com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

The big push

Nin­tendo said 50 soft­ware mak­ers, in­clud­ing Elec­tronic Arts and Sega, are pre­par­ing 80 games for the Switch. It also promised in-house games such as a Leg­end of Zelda game, which will go on sale the same date as the Switch.

The com­pany is also set­ting up lo­ca­tions where peo­ple can try the de­vice ahead of its launch, some in Euro­pean cities.

In Tokyo, Hisashi Yao, se­nior an­a­lyst at Rheos Cap­i­tal Works Inc., was im­pressed with how it was “fo­cused on com­mu­ni­ca­tion” and en­cour­aged play­ers to move about. “I got sweaty,” he said.

AP PHOTO/KOJI SASAHARA

A model puts the con­troller on to the Nin­tendo Switch dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion event of the new Nin­tendo Switch in Tokyo on Fri­day.

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