The man in charge of all things Pokémon says he specifically warned Nintendo about its latest console, the outrageously popular Nintendo Switch. He thought it was going to be a failure.
“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,” Tsunekazu Ishihara, CEO of The Pokémon Company told Bloomberg in a recent interview. “It’s obvious I was wrong.”
Though wrong in the long-term, Ishihara held a view that many did before Nintendo’s Switch launched back in March. How could Nintendo compete with free smartphone games? Who would buy a $US300 portable game console when there’s already a supercomputer in your pocket with a super high-definition screen?
That logic aside, Nintendo demonstrated a long-held truth in the video game business: Great games sell hardware.
The $US300 Switch console has been in high-demand since it came out. Games like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” and “Splatoon 2” are a big part of the reason for that. There are other good reasons, like the Switch itself being a sleek, modern console.
But the number one reason is software, and Ishihara sees this now. “Software with absolute quality leads sales of hardware. Playing style can be flexible if the software is attractive enough,” he told Bloomberg.
Even now, while he now says he sees potential in Switch, he remains cautious. “Currently, [Switch is] popular among the early adopters, but there needs to be one more step to attract a wider audience. I see much potential in Switch, but one shouldn’t overestimate its potential.”
The outrageously popular Pokémon video game series (and show, and movies, etc.) is most often associated with Nintendo — outside of “Pokémon Go,” all Pokémon games have appeared exclusively on Nintendo game consoles.
But Pokémon isn’t made or even owned by Nintendo. The company that owns and operates the franchise is actually named “The Pokémon Company.” It’s a joint venture between Nintendo, Game Freak (a game developer which makes most of the Pokémon games) and Creatures (a game developer which makes some of the Pokémon games). Ishihara in the CEO of The Pokémon Company.