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Nintendo says the transition to its next console is ‘a major concern for us’

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Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said the company’s eventual transition from Nintendo Switch to its next hardware platform was “a major concern” for the company.

Speaking during a Q&A with a Japanese investor this week (VGC contributor Robert Sephazon), Furukawa said the company plans to mitigate the risk of resetting its user base of more than 100 million users by establishing “long-term relationships” with its users, in part through Nintendo Accounts and using its IP address outside of games.

Furukawa was responding to a question about how Nintendo has been able to maintain a solid game release schedule six years into the Switch’s lifecycle, and what it thinks of the transition to its next hardware platform.

In its recent history, Nintendo has followed its big hits such as Wii (101.6 million sold) and DS (154 million sold) with significantly less popular successors (Wii U sold 13.5 million and 3DS managed 75 million), and Furukawa said society is aware of these experiences.

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“We’ve already announced that part of our software roadmap will be released through next spring,” he said. “Unlike in the past, we continue to have a wide variety of games slated for release, even beyond five years of release. That’s because Nintendo Switch had such a smooth launch, allowing us to focus all our development resources on a single platform.

“However, whether we will be able to transition from the Nintendo Switch to the next generation of hardware just as easily is a major concern for us. Based on our experiences with the Wii, Nintendo DS and other hardware, it’s very clear that one of the biggest hurdles is knowing how to easily switch between hardware.

“To help mitigate this risk, we focus on building long-term relationships with our customers. As we continue to release new software on the Nintendo Switch, we will also provide services that also use Nintendo Accounts and other IP addresses outside of gaming software. We want this to help create a lasting impact with our clients.

Furukawa has previously appeared to hint that some form of backwards compatibility could be used for its next game console, to “maintain and grow” Switch’s audience of over 100 million users.

Speaking to investors in February, the chairman said of Nintendo’s next-generation console plans: “There are currently nearly 100 million annual game users, and going forward, it’s important to “examine how we can maintain and grow this number. This will also be essential as we consider our plan for the next hardware platform.”

Nintendo says the transition to its next console is
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On Tuesday, Nintendo reported Switch hardware sales of 23.06 million for its fiscal year ending March 2022, bringing lifetime sales to 107.6 million. The figure brings the company close to the PS2 record of 155 million, but it still represents a 20% drop from the previous year, when Switch sales peaked at 28.83 million units.

Officially, the company said it believes the Switch is still in the middle of its lifecycle and is looking for a sixth year of growth, aided by the new OLED model.

Nintendo said last May that the investment in the successor to the Switch had contributed to record annual spending on research and development at the company.

And during its financial results briefing in November, the company said it was still discussing internally the concept and launch schedule for its next gaming system.

President Shuntaro Furukawa discussed Nintendo’s approach to developing and launching new gaming hardware in a Nikkei (paywall) interview published last February.

“Hardware and software development teams are in the same building, communicating closely and thinking about how we can deliver new forms of entertainment,” he said.

“To create unique material, we have to do a lot of preparation several years in advance, so we work non-stop. Ultimately, the deciding factor in whether or not to market a product is whether it can create a new experience.