For a lot of us, Nintendo has been synonymous with games consoles our entire lifetimes. For anyone under the age of 36, that’s basically all we’ve ever known from them. It wasn’t always like this though; Nintendo has made its money from playing cards, hotels, and toys over the years. After 36 years of home consoles though, change could be afoot with the potentially radical plans of new Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa.
"We aren't really fixated on our consoles," said Furukawa during an interview with Nikkei. "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."
The obvious pivot that’s happened lately is Nintendo’s transition to mobile. The quality of the games has been a bit hit and miss but it’s also become quite the money-spinner. Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp and, obviously, Pokemon Go have all proven long-term earners for Nintendo that show the benefit of bringing its games to wider audiences.
For now, the Nintendo Switch is proving a massive success for Nintendo. It’s the fastest-selling console Nintendo has ever reached, while the exclusives are proving evergreen sellers capable of shifting millions of units. However, the Switch has cannibalised Nintendo’s usual twin pillars, acting as both a home console and a portable. Typically, the success of one has offset any failings of the other and combining the two significantly increases the risk of any new consoles. Furukawa’s words do at least suggest that Nintendo isn’t a company that’s stuck its ways though, and while unlikely in the short term, Nintendo isn’t totally averse to diversifying and, who knows, maybe multiplatform releases are on the cards one day.
The worry in this scenario is that a heck of a lot could be lost if Nintendo isn’t in control of its own hardware. While Sony and Microsoft continue to ape one another, Nintendo is notoriously unafraid to experiment and try new things with its hardware and the accompanying games.
What do you think, can you see a world in which Nintendo ever moves away from consoles? Could multiplatform releases be the smart move? Let us know your thoughts!