If there was any doubt that console generations as we know them are dying, Nintendo's President
Tatsumi Kimishima has further cemented the idea that they are. According to Kimishima's recent remarks during Nintendo's fiscal year financial results briefing, it seems that the 3DS family of systems may stick around longer than anybody expected. Meanwhile, Nintendo Switch's planned lifecycle is not at all predetermined.
Responding during an investor Q&A, Kimishima had the following to say on the subject of Nintendo hardware cycles.
To that end, we are always thinking about what kinds of software consumers are going to want, and evaluating our hardware cycles to make sure that we are meeting that need. This means that our product lifecycles are not going to last for a set number of years, but will be flexible enough to change when required by changing consumer needs. In general, this is the sort of thinking we want to adopt for all our hardware development. We want to have flexible hardware cycles where the launch of new hardware sets off the development of the next hardware that will respond to consumer trends.
It's quite the savvy strategy, really, as 3DS development is only going to become cheaper over time, and profit margins on 3DS and 2DS hardware revisions are only going to rise. I've little doubt the profit margins of the New 2DS XL Nintendo has planned would make any non-Nintendo employee sick to their stomach just looking at them.
On the other hand, the device itself is quite affordable for consumers, and if the worthwhile games keep flowing, it does amount to a win-win. More cashflow for Nintendo, more worthwhile games for the millions of 3DS and 2DS owners, and ideally, more return on investment that can ultimately be funneled into other things. These include Switch software development, new hardware altogether, and your typical innovative, unexpected, or wacky Nintendo endeavors. Regarding the latter, some would say for better or worse. But you get the idea.
The 3DS family was already large… and now there's the New Nintendo 2DS XL.
I've speculated in the past about how theoretical Switch revisions might pan out, but I'd assumed at the time it'd receive one, maybe two at most over the course of its life. If Kimishima's and thus Nintendo's new approach is to simply iterate indefinitely until gamers tire of the hardware, though, then the possibilities for Switch revisionism become quite long and effectively endless. Given the way the competition may or may not be liable to react, I'm feeling about ready to pop some popcorn and enjoy what the next five years of console wars have to offer.
Kimishima's full Q&A replies have been documented here, and it's clear when reading that his style, though respectful of Nintendo's history and heritage, is far different than that of late president Satoru Iwata. Notably, in question four, he appears to have accurately predicted Zelda: Breath of the Wild's above 100% attach rate, a seemingly impossible feat.
Do you feel Nintendo's new, perhaps more bold leadership is the right approach moving forward? Let us know.