Nintendo Switch, A Last-Ditch Console

The Japanese video game giant can smile. After the success of Pokemon Go, Super Mario Run and its Mini NES, the Kyoto group is starting the launch of its new home console with a hybrid concept, under a lucky star. Still it will be necessary to convince a community of gamers scalded by the masterful gadget of the WiiU …

It’s a real rebirth. Nintendo that we gave to the worst in the first half of 2016, has found the hair of the beast. Unexpected. In six months, the Japanese video game giant has reversed all trends, against all odds, as it prepares to release its new video game console with an innovative concept. This resurrection, he owes it in great part to the success of the Pokemon Go smartphone game. Designed by the American studio Niantic from the monster saga created by the Japanese group, the virtual reality title was a hit. planetary scale which reflected positively on the brand, even if Nintendo only had a very secondary role in this story.

“We are on an interesting dynamic, acknowledges Philippe Lavoué, Managing Director France. Pokemon Go has done us a lot of good ”. According to him, the application has had a beneficial effect on all of the group’s activities. And that translates into numbers. “We sold 850,000 copies of the Pokemon Moon and Pokemon Sun games at the end of the year. We also sold more 3DS portable consoles in 2016 than in 2015. A total of 3.4 million games were sold in France. We are making + 25% at the end of the year in game sales, ”explains Philippe Lavoué.

Nintendo also launched Super Mario Run on the App Store at the end of the year, a great first for the group. There too, a planetary box. 50 million downloads at the end of the year. And it’s not over since the title is announced on Android …

Nintendo plays the nostalgic spirit with the Mini NES

Added to this is the improbable effect of the mini NES, a replica of the star home games console from the end of the 80s which was reissued at the end of 2016 in mini format with around thirty onboard games. . This allowed the brand to ride the wave of the generation that grew up with this machine and to renew with the many in-house licenses. A nostalgic fiber with the best effect before a new launch. 80,000 copies were sold in France, according to Philippe Lavoué, who assures us that Nintendo underestimated the nostalgia effect and that this launch was not stalled to recreate a dynamic before the arrival of the new console.

It must be recognized, in any case, that the Kyoto group benefits with this accumulation of good news from a “favorable context for the launch of the Switch”.
Friday January 13, a conference allowed to know more about its ecosystem, its launch and its price. At the same time, Nintendo France is organizing a major three-day presentation show at the Grand Palais. The manufacturer is expecting 5,000 people that it hopes to transform into as many ambassadors before the machine is marketed on March 3.

The Switch, a very quirky product

And once again, Nintendo intends to create the event by offering a quirky product. Its concept is revolutionary since the Switch is the first hybrid home console that has a removable screen for playing on the go and two detachable controllers that will allow the development of new games, like Switch 1 and 2 or de Arms, two new franchises.

“The concept of the Switch is quirky. It suits us well to be out of step with our competitors, ”explains Philippe Lavoué. And they need at least that to be able to exist in the face of the insolent health of the PlayStation 4, the Sony console which has been leading the way since the start of generation 8. Sony announced a few days ago that it had sold 53.4 millions of machines in total in the world. A figure that makes competitors dream, and Nintendo in the first place, which must be based on the very poor record of its Wii U, with its 13.36 million units, a figure very far from the success of its big sister, the Wii which finished generation 7 in style with 101.6 million units sold worldwide.

In a note published Friday, IHS Markit warns on the other hand that “the Switch will have to provide a convincing alternative or an improvement over the tablets”. And this can be done via exclusive games, a new way of multiplayer both locally and on the networks, or via the famous Joy-Con joysticks which announce new experiences that will go beyond what the tablets.

Because the match with Sony’s Playstation 4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One will not be done on power or virtual reality. (For more information, read “The New War for Video Game Consoles”). Nintendo is therefore counting on the Switch to restore its image. And the console is awaited by the community of gamers heated to white by the many booster shots of the year 2016.

A very mixed reception for the Switch

Hence a mixed reception on social networks this Friday, some regretting the sale price (350 euros), others considering that the launch line-up is still too poor, and all being overwhelmed by the establishment of ‘a paid online service. Another weakness underlined, the autonomy from 2h30 to 6h30 max. Philippe Lavoué readily admits: “It is essential to support the launch of a console with franchises”. And the Switch will be able to rely on the highly anticipated “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”. And to add: “here is a license which we missed at the launch of the Wii U”!

But is it enough? Financial markets consider that no. The stock closed 5.75% on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday as analysts were chilled by the price and the low number of games available at launch (eight so far). Nintendo is awaiting the support of third-party publishers who took advantage of the announcement to unveil their titles for the Switch. Ubisoft, Activision, Electronic Arts… They all answer this. Something to keep smiling. Not necessarily, because it should not be seen as unfailing support. So if the momentum is there, it will have to materialize on March 3. Because a new failure could kill the ambitions of the group in the hardware market.