Since Nintendo announced its financial results yesterday — where it revealed that the Switch has now sold more than 107 million units worldwide, and predicted that profits would again drop in the next financial year — there's been an awful lot of chatter about a Switch successor, hasn't there?
In a Japanese investor Q&A, translated by Robert Sephazon for VGC, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa has spoken about the results and the future of the company. And the Switch's successor indeed came up during the talk.
Despite saying that the Switch was only "in the middle of its life cycle" back in February, Furukawa indeed acknowledged that it wouldn't be around forever, but that the transition to a new next-gen console is "a major concern" for Nintendo. Furukawa says the Switch's smooth launch has allowed them to plan and develop for the console even after over five years, but that they are focusing on building "long-term relationships" with customers in order to alleviate as much risk as possible for the hybrid's future successor:
Unlike the past, we continue to have a large variety of games scheduled to be released, even beyond five years of release. This is because the Nintendo Switch has had such a smooth launch, allowing us to focus all of our development resources on a single platform.
However, the question of whether we will be able to just as smoothly transition from the Nintendo Switch to the next generation of hardware is a major concern for us. Based on our experiences with the Wii, Nintendo DS, and other hardware, it is very clear that one of the major obstacles is how to easily transition from one hardware to the next.
To help alleviate this risk, we’re focusing on building long-term relationships with our customers. While we will continue launching new software on the Nintendo Switch, we will also provide services that also use Nintendo Accounts and other IP outside of gaming software. We intend for this to help build a lasting impact with our customers.
Given that production of the 3DS stopped in 2020, and the 3DS eShop is closing in 2023, Nintendo's focus on a single piece of hardware has clearly worked to its advantage. The Switch hasn't really seen any major sales issues since it dropped in 2017, with numbers continuing to rise at an extremely good pace — it's currently the fifth best-selling console of all time in the world, after all.
But we all know that the Switch will need a follow-up at some point, even if it's just a significant, beefier 'Switch 2'. This discussion was heightened again yesterday, as Nintendo reported that hardware sales have begun to slow (though much of this has been down to the global chip shortage), so the company may need something, even if it's just a plan like Furukawa suggests. It's something we've considered a lot over the last year, and yesterday's results prompted this piece from us:
We'll have to wait and see what Nintendo will produce in the future, but the Switch — now in its sixth year — is still doing pretty strongly for now despite the dip in numbers. We've got Breath of the Wild 2 coming next Spring, after all.
You can share what you think about Furukawa's comments in the usual spot.
The logical thing is to assume that we will at some point get a new console that is more powerful than Switch, especially if they genuinely want to keep Switch going for another 5 years as a main platform. The question will be, will it just be that games aimed at this new model will work on original Switches too, but at lower resolutions and framerates (essentially making it a "Switch Pro") or will it be a true new gen so far removed that brand new software will only work on it?
If they do go for a completely new system, it absolutely without fail NEEDS to be backwards compatible with Switch software, both carts and downloads (and of course all cloud saves, dlc etc). To not do so would be suicide in the current market. And preferably the Switch Online and Expansion Pass retro games need to keep going from where Switch "finishes", rather than going back to zero and spoon feeding us Ice Climbers again.