In an interview with The Kyoto Shimbun, Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima confirmed that the company was developing a sleep tracking device, and expressed his attitudes about film and television, entertainment and the Chinese market.
Tatsumi said that Nintendo Switch has far exceeded the company’s expectations. It has been widely accepted that Switch is both a TV game machine and a handheld gaming machine. Nintendo has enhanced its sales forecast: it expects to sell more than 20 million Switch units this year – exceeding its goal in the 2017 fiscal year, which was 14 million units. If Nintendo can meet these sales figures, it could recover from the failure of its Wii U.
Nintendo sold 3.47 million Switch units in Japan from March 3 to December 31, surpassing its sales of Wii U, which sold 3.30 million units in Japan during the last five years. Switch also became the top-selling game platform in Japan in 2017, and was only 300,000 units shy of the total 3DS and PS4 sales. The Switch was one of the most popular gifts during the Christmas and New Year sales season. The Nintendo handheld system is not only a star in the industry, but a fashion item. Many young online celebrities have shared their Nintendo Switch photos. They are not satisfied to merely play games, but must pair the console with a travel bag and cool shoes.
As for the fate of the 3DS after the Switch’s release, Tatsumi said some people might think the handheld Switch could cut into 3DS sales. This has not been the case: 3DS sales are still in line with expectations, Tatsumi said. Nintendo will continue to sell 3DS devices in the future.
That could mean the 3DS series handheld game machine will have a follow-up. In its last conference with Nintendo, FENG.com noted the declining number of new 3DS games. There were some quality games, but the focus has shifted to Switch. FENG.com said this is a sign of the end of the 3DS life cycle. A successor to the 3DS is expected in 2018.
The smartphone game business has not yet become a mainstay of Nintendo’s profits. Tatsumi said Nintendo doesn’t think the smartphone game market conflicts with its traditional game market. The expansion of the smartphone market is not equal to the user loss. For a game company, it means a new business areas.
On the topic of the Chinese market, Tatsumi said Nintendo wanted to expand into the market and had tried for several years to do so. Since China’s policies have a special threshold for gaming software, Nintendo must seriously consider how to sell games in China. It is not impossible to get support from Chinese companies.
Nintendo remains quite conservative towards the Chinese market, but Tatsumi said it intends to find a partner. It remains unclear which giant company in China can work with Nintendo. Switch is widely regarded as the best opportunity for Nintendo to return to the Chinese market. Nintendo cannot escape from the Chinese gaming market: Tencent’s Valor of Arena is available on its Switch platform. After more contact with Chinese game companies and developers, Nintendo will have to seek an approach into China. More importantly, Nintendo’s shareholders hope it can find its way back into the world’s largest gaming market.
Media have reported that Super Mario animated films are in the works, which are produced by Illumination. Nintendo has remained tight-lipped about these projects. Nintendo said it wants to think more broadly about the film business, including the film itself. Tatsumi said Nintendo will release more information when it reaches a consensus with its partners. Nintendo will be careful in looking at and treating its own content, so it’s not just licensing but Nintendo will be involved in making movies. Tatsumi hopes an agreement on animated films can be reached before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In 2020, Universal Studios Japan and Nintendo will open their Super Nintendo World Theme Park.
In addition, Nintendo has confirmed it is developing quality of life (QOL) devices, but it won’t release product information until it is complete, interesting enough and likely to sell. The Nintendo team is still developing this product.
As early as 2014, it was rumored that Nintendo would make QOL device connected to mobile phones and Nintendo systems. Since then, Nintendo officials have shed some light on the news, but it’s been a mystery what the product is. Some see it as the start of Nintendo’s shift away from smartphone games to developing smart hardware. The project has been quiet for many years,. It isn’t clear whether the product will appear in 2018.