New president makes small overtures towards the possibility of it happening, but don't expect Nintendo to make good on that anytime soon.
In an interview with Japanese newspaper Nikkei (via Nintendo Everything, with the heads up from Eurogamer), Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa noted that Nintendo may move away from home console design in the future. This could happen in order to maintain the company’s flexibility in the evolvement of the entertainment industry.
“We aren't really fixated on our consoles,” he said. “At the moment we're offering the uniquely developed Nintendo Switch and its software - and that's what we're basing how we deliver the 'Nintendo experience' on. That being said, technology changes. We'll continue to think flexibly about how to deliver that experience as time goes on.
"It has been over 30 years since we started developing consoles. Nintendo's history goes back even farther than that, and through all the struggles that they faced the only thing that they thought about was what to make next. In the long-term, perhaps our focus as a business could shift away from home consoles - flexibility is just as important as ingenuity."
Furukawa stressed that they still have plenty to go back on should that day ever arrive. He told Nikkei that he would like to “increase” the number of Nintendo releases on smartphones. Additionally, Nintendo still has other ventures currently in the works, such as new theme park ventures at Universal Orlando, Universal Hollywood and Universal Osaka in Japan, and films in progress, including the new Super Mario film being made by the studio behind Minions and Despicable Me, Illumination.
"I don't want our developers to think too much along the lines of 'what should I do if we fail?'" Furukawa went on to say. "My most important role is to facilitate an environment in which they can demonstrate their own abilities. I'm not a pro developer myself, so I leave the actual development to leaders that can tell what a good game is and what isn't."
The likelihood of Nintendo leaving behind console development is next to nil at the moment. Nintendo Switch has recently become the fastest selling console this generation in the US, even outpacing both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sales at the same period in both of their life cycles. And with the Switch fast approaching its second anniversary this coming March, the afterburners will be turned up to 11 at the expectations of a massive 2019 for the system.
We’ve asked Nintendo for comment on Furukawa’s remarks and will update this story if and when we get it.
But in speaking with GameDaily, Kantan Games’ Dr Serkan Toto said that elements of what Furukawa said may have been lost in translation, noting the company “has always taken pride in being an integrated hard- and software company.”
But, referring to a remark made by Furukawa regarding “fluctuations” in the industry and how the company will need to evolve to meet them, Toto said that should the future of games go streaming, “even Nintendo will need to adopt - and this is what Furukawa said.
“In such a future, I believe Nintendo can actually further thrive.”
He continued: “The company sits on the most valuable, most iconic IPs in the gaming world. For decades, Nintendo's studios have churned out many of the highest-rated titles of all time. They have top-notch designers and developers, unique branding and a positive attitude towards innovation.
“In terms of streaming, Nintendo has nothing to worry about.”
We may be moving away from traditional home consoles after the upcoming console lifecycle, with cloud gaming and digital distribution systems heating up the end of this one. Regardless of how Nintendo chooses to expand (or not) in the future, there's no doubt that it will continue to do what it does best: innovate and surprise the industry, for good and for ill.
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