The Pokemon Company CEO: “I Told Nintendo That Switch Wouldn’t Be a Success”

The Pokemon Company is Nintendo’s most valuable business partner, which means that its CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara has a certain amount of sway with its higher-ups. However, while Ishihara may be a legend in the business, sometimes he can be wrong. In a recent interview he spoke about one such time, which reportedly say him arguing against Nintendo’s decision to push ahead with the Switch.

The Switch has been a huge success story for Nintendo, with the console selling out across both online and brick-and-mortar retailers, and its new software releases frequently topping sales charts. However, prior to the console’s launch Ishihara told Nintendo that he thought it would flop, on the basis that he didn’t believe consumers would want to carry around their console.

“I told Nintendo that Switch wouldn’t be a success before it went on sale because I thought that in the age of the smartphone no one would carry around a game console,” Ishihara told Bloomberg in a video interview.

“It’s obvious I was wrong. I came to realize the key to a successful game is quite simple: software with absolute quality leads sales of hardware. Playing style can be flexible if the software is attractive enough.”


However, Ishihara still expressed some degree of doubt that the Switch’s popularity would continue to gain momentum. “Currently, it’s popular among the early adopters and there needs to be one more step to attract a wider audience,” he added. “I see more potential in Switch, but one shouldn’t overestimate its potential.”

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Despite these concerns, The Pokemon Company clearly sees a lot of potential in the Switch, with them developing a Pokemon RPG for the console. With the core Pokemon series usually remaining on Nintendo’s dedicated handheld consoles, the as-yet-untitled project is set to be a huge seller for the Switch, and Ishihara revealed more details about it in the interview.

“We see [the Switch] as a chance to create Pokemon that goes deeper and with a higher level of expression. As a result, that makes it an extremely important platform,” he continued.

“Right now we’re using 7 to 8 inch screens, but on a high-definition TV you can express a whole different world with graphics and sound. Until now, games were made as one for one person, but now you can go home and play with everyone — so how do we tackle these themes, and how do we make sure it’s not complicated?

“Unlike smartphones, the Switch is not a game device that assumes that there’s constant network connectivity. So from our perspective, it’s really not that different from DS or 3DS in terms of connectivity.”

There’s no word yet on when the Switch Pokemon RPG is expected to be released, with the game still early in development from Game Freak. Ishihara will no doubt be hoping that the Switch continues to exceed his expectations, and that there will be a healthy audience waiting to play the game when it eventually arrives.