At Nintendo’s 83rd annual shareholders meeting last week, president and CEO Shuntaro Furukawa said the company is hoping for a smooth transition from the Switch to its unannounced next game console, pointing to Nintendo Accounts as being key to the generational hand-off.
In response to an investor asking if the company has any specific measures in place to make the leap to a Switch successor, Furukawa pointed to the difficulty of switching customers from one console to the next, saying in the past, the company had to rebuild a relationship with its customers each time.
Furukawa noted that the more than 290 million Nintendo Accounts are cross-platform and can be used with console games as well as mobile apps. To close out his answer, he said that while moving onto the company’s yet-unannounced next-generation console, Nintendo would do its best to make the transition smooth for customers.
Nintendo released a fully-translated version of the Q&A session on June 30th (pdf) that gives an even clearer look at the question and answer:
Wii U was launched around six years after Wii, and Super Famicom was launched around seven years after Famicom. Nintendo Switch has entered its seventh year, and I gather it has come to its final phase, so can you tell us about any specific measures for transitioning to the next generation game system?
Regarding the transition to the next-generation platform, in the past, hardware was the only way for us to connect with our consumers, and so with each new platform, we needed to rebuild our relationships. But in the case of Nintendo Switch, we can directly connect with a wide range of consumers via Nintendo Accounts. More than 290 million Nintendo Accounts have been created by people around the world, not only via our dedicated video game platform but also via mobile apps. Regarding the move from Nintendo Switch to the next-generation platform, we will make good use of Nintendo Account to make this a smooth transition for our consumers.
In addition, we work to strengthen the touch points and develop a long-term relationship with each of our consumers, with Nintendo Account as the connection that spans platform generations and unites a variety of entertainment experiences, centered on our integrated hardware-software entertainment.
Nintendo is notoriously late to the party when it comes to integrating new technologies such as cloud saves and 4K gaming, and its online accounts are particularly behind the times. Both Microsoft and Sony have had persistent cross-generational accounts since the aughts. Nintendo’s past solutions to console transitions have been messy and convoluted, as was the case when it had Wii owners jump through hoops to move games to the Wii U. It’s needed to catch up for a while. It’s good to see Nintendo is recognizing that, too.
Update July 4th, 10:07PM ET: Added notes from the English-translated Q&A notes released by Nintendo and its latest Annual Report.