Almost every Nintendo game ever made has been released on the company’s own hardware, whether that be the primitive Game & Watch stand-alone systems or the newer Switch, but it appears that approach could change in the future.
In an interview with Nikkei translated by Nintendo Everything, new Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa was asked about the risk that goes into having a role in both the software and hardware businesses, and running into an “innovation dilemma.”
In response, Furukawa said that the company will continue to “think flexibly” about how Nintendo delivers experiences to players. This could mean moving away from home consoles entirely, he added.
“In the long-term, perhaps our focus as a business could shift away from home consoles — flexibility is just as important as ingenuity,” Furukawa said.
Furukawa’s wording doesn’t make it clear whether that will mean moving away from all consoles, or simply developing hardware that operates in multiple setups, such as the Nintendo Switch. The Switch’s success — combined with the age of the 3DS — has made it Nintendo’s primary focus, but Nintendo hasn’t ruled out releasing another dedicated handheld device. 3DS games continue to come out, as well, though at a reduced rate than they were prior to the Switch’s launch in 2017.
When Nintendo has experienced hiccups, such as with the early troubles with the 3DS and the entirety of the Wii U’s lifespan, there have been calls for the company to shift its focus entirely to software. Of course, then something like the Nintendo Switch comes out, reignites interest in the Nintendo brand, and that debate is pushed back once again.
Because Nintendo systems are typically best known for first-party games, that argument does have some weight, but the Switch seems to be changing that perception. Alongside games like Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2, the Switch has also gotten quite a bit of support from third-party publishers. Bethesda, Ubisoft, and Take-Two have all released several of their games on the system, where its portability and flexibility has made it the platform of choice for some players. Buying games a second time, just for the convenience the Switch offers, isn’t out of the question, either.