As Nintendo approaches this holiday season, the company seems to be in a good position. The streamlined Switch Lite launched in September and has already seen impressive sales, moving 1.85 million units in its first month, while new Pokémon games are on the horizon, joining other recent releases like Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Ring Fit Adventure. All told, the Switch has sold more than 40 million units, which puts it on pace to surpass the iconic SNES some time in the coming months.
While December 25th is still a ways away, the holidays begin now for Nintendo; today, the company announced its Black Friday plans, which include steep discounts on games and a Switch bundle that includes a free copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Ahead of the announcement, I had the chance to talk to Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser about the Switch Lite’s early success, the future of the 3DS, and much more. Here are the most interesting tidbits.
On the Switch Lite expanding the audience for the platform
“It’s not only raised the sell-through for the overall family, but importantly it did so without any negative impact on our flagship system,” Bowser says of Switch Lite sales. “Said another way, Nintendo Switch Lite sales have been additive to the overall Switch business.”
Meanwhile, during Nintendo’s most recent earnings report, the company revealed that 43 percent of Switch Lite owners were buying the device as a second system. That’s an important part of Nintendo’s stated goal of having multiple Switches in family homes, but Bowser also looks at it from a different perspective.
“I’ll talk to the inverse, which is 57 percent of the consumers are new to the Nintendo Switch family, and that’s equally important to us as we continue to expand the audience,” he says. “One of the important trends we’re also seeing with Nintendo Switch Lite is a higher percent of female consumers are buying a Nintendo Switch Lite, which is a strong indicator of the appeal to a broader audience.”
On the future of the Nintendo 3DS
“We continue to look at the 3DS family, both hardware and games, as a strong entry point for some consumers. And we’re seeing that. As long as consumer demand is there, we’ll continue to provide both hardware and software on that front.” When asked when it will be appropriate to say the 3DS is dead as a platform, Bowser says “We’re certainly not going to say it today. I think time will tell. We will continue to support 3DS this holiday and into 2020.”
On the difficulties of sharing Nintendo accounts across multiple Switch units
“There’s nothing to talk about at this point,” Bowser says of plans to make the process easier. “There is the ability to transfer data and to designate which is your primary device and which is a secondary device, and those instructions are available on nintendo.com. But we’re also looking at the experiences our consumers are having, and we’re always looking for opportunities to improve and enhance those experiences.”
On how the company dealt with the plague of “Joy-Con drift”
“Our goal is always, always to create quality products, and products that ensure gamers are having a great experience,” Bowser says. “We are continuously looking at ways to improve our products as we go forward, but in the end we want consumers to have a great experience. And if in any case they’re not having that experience, we encourage them to contact our customer support groups and we’ll do our best to help them through that. That has been how we’ve been handling our consumers over the last few months as issues like this have arisen, and we believe that consumers are finding their way back to great gameplay experiences.”
On whether we’ll ever see another tiny plug-and-play retro console
“Our focus right now is absolutely on our dedicated platforms such as Nintendo Switch Lite and our flagship Nintendo Switch,” Bowser explains. “I think with the gameplay experiences you saw with some of our classic consoles that we launched a few years ago, they’re now available on Nintendo Switch Online, and this is where our focus will be.”
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