Nintendo’s new president Tatsumi Kimishima told Time magazine in an interview that the NX video game console won’t just be an extension of the Wii or Wii U game consoles. Instead, it will be something different.
The interview is the first major Western interview for Kimishima, who has the difficult job of making sure that Nintendo catches up with its rivals and takes on a bigger role in modern digital gaming. Kimishima, 65, took over as president earlier this year after the death of former president Satoru Iwata. He called the upcoming NX console as “a next step in our dedicated device strategy, the core and primary focus of our business.”
He added, “As far as NX goes, I’ve said it’s different and obviously a new experience. If you look back to the beginning of our conversation today, we talked about the transition from Wii hardware to the Wii U hardware and how difficult it is to explain to the consumer base what is different and new about the new hardware. It’s difficult to convince them to switch from their current platform to the next platform. That being said, I can assure you we’re not building the next version of Wii or Wii U. It’s something unique and different. It’s something where we have to move away from those platforms in order to make it something that will appeal to our consumer base.”
By most measures, the Wii U has been a disaster for Nintendo. The console has sold more than 10 million units since 2012, while Sony has sold more than 30 million PlayStation 4 consoles and Microsoft has sold about 15.6 million (based on company reports and VGChartz).
Regarding the Wii U support, Kimishima said, “What I want to do, I think our first job right now is to make sure that the customers, those 10 million customers who have a Wii U at home have software to play. And we need to make sure that they are satisfied with their purchase and continue to enjoy playing on this platform. So we can’t just abandon them and say ‘Hey, it’s time to move on to the next thing.'”
Nintendo is also in the midst of publishing its intellectual property for the first time on smartphones and other non-Nintendo devices.
“Nintendo has talked for years about increasing the gaming population,” Kimishima said to Time. “But to further that goal, we want to increase the population who has access to Nintendo’s IP first and foremost. Of course the smart device business is not a simple business, it is a highly competitive business, and so for us just to take our IP and drop it into the smart device business, in that existing red ocean, I believe would not be a very successful strategy to take.”
Kimishima said that the My Nintendo and Nintendo Account systems would help unify Nintendo’s properties across all platforms, as a kind of new, cross-platform version of the now-discontinued Club Nintendo rewards program.
Nintendo’s first new smart device app, Miitomo, will be available next March. That device will connect with the My Nintendo network and make cross-merchandising possible.
Kimishima said that the plans for Amiibo aren’t going as expected. The plan was to have people use the connected software for Amiibo and play with their friends in a social way. Instead, he said that the Amiibo are being purchased more as collectible items right now.
And he said that Iwata’s “quality of life initiative,” focused on using games to improve health, is still under development. But he wouldn’t say more than that.
He also said that he plans to stay around for longer than one year. Previously, it seemed like he was appointed for just that period. But he noted, “Something I think that maybe was misunderstood previously was, there was talk about me being around for one year. What that was, is the board of directors, as a member of the board, the term is for one year. And at the next shareholders meeting we have to be reconfirmed as board members. That happens on a yearly basis, but there was never any meaning that I would only be president for one year in that conversation.”
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