Nintendo executive talks about Switch, its new console.
The firm’s U.S. president addresses 3DS comparisons and lack of streaming
Nintendo’s new console, the Switch, is out and flying off shelves. It has become Nintendo’s fastest-selling console in the United States, outpacing the record-selling Wii in its initial sales, the company said, although it would not provide exact numbers.
I talked with Nintendo America’s chief operating officer, Reggie Fils-Aime, about the Switch. I particularly wanted to know why I would buy the Switch when I have Nintendo games on my 3DS, how they’re going to deliver on their game promises and whether this tablet-like device has nongaming functions. This has been edited for length and clarity.
How should people look at the Switch as compared to the 3DS?
The 3DS is a fantastic machine with more than 1,000 games. Its key differentiator is the 3D immersive experience without a need for glasses.
But as good as that machine is, you can’t play a game like “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” on it. The power required — not only the computing power, but the graphics required for that game, are just not available on a Nintendo 3DS. That makes it a different experience. That is how I would separate out those two systems. Certainly we see consumers wanting and needing both platforms.
So you see it as different in the types of games you can play?
It’s the types of games. And with a Nintendo 3DS, you can’t plug it in and display it out on your 50-plus-inch big-screen TV. That home experience that you can take anywhere is the defining proposition of Nintendo Switch. The concept of never having to put a game down that you can play anywhere, anytime, as a gamer, is something you want.
Many reviewers, including me, would have liked more games at launch. How do you respond to that?
When you think about a new platform, what will define it as a long-term success are the ongoing range of games and experiences that come to the platform — not what’s available on Day One. For the Nintendo Switch, we were deliberate in wanting to make sure, from a Nintendo publish standpoint, that we had a steady cadence of great games in addition to strong titles at launch.
My answer is to look at the games that have been announced and are in development, and that should drive your purchase decision.
How should people look at the Switch as being different from a PlayStation or Xbox?
Our platform is the only place you can experience our IP: Zelda, Mario, Fire Emblem. [Note: IP, or “intellectual property,” is industry-speak for a game or franchise.] You’re not going to see that on the competing home platforms.
From a multiplatform standpoint, you’re able to play a different way than you can with our home competitors. They’re only on that big-screen TV, but with the Switch you can then take it with you, have it on the subway. That experience, we believe, is compelling.
Another thing I wanted to see on the Switch were some tablet functions such as streaming services or a Web browser. Is that something you’d look into down the line?
What I would say is this: We built the Nintendo Switch to be a world-class gaming device, meaning we want you first and foremost to play games on the system and have an incredibly fun experience.
We’re talking to a range of companies about other services, companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon — things that will come in time. In our view, these are not differentiators. What differentiates us is the way you play with the Nintendo Switch and what you can play.
Reggie Fils-Aime is president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America.