This morning, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa made a presentation on the third quarter of the financial year ending on the 31st. March 2020 ends. As always, we obtain additional information from what is included in the financial statements, and this time this is no exception.
One of Nintendo’s key strategies for the future is to increase the number of people who have access to Nintendo’s intellectual property. The company is no longer content to focus on those who want to play the latest video games. They want to appeal to a wider group of consumers. To this end, they constantly reinforce their presence through various channels. One of the most striking is a mobile game that has brought the traditional franchises to a wider audience. This will continue to be the case when content updates are made for existing games.
They opened a shop in Tokyo last autumn, and it has been very busy ever since. Many customers have to wait a long time to get through the doors. Nintendo wants to expand its product offering and increase the number of locations in these stores. They seem to be open to the idea of having more branches all over the world. We know that the London pop-up last year worked very well, so it wouldn’t surprise us if Nintendo opened up new sites in major cities. It makes sense to open another one in Japan (hopefully in a larger place), but also in places like Los Angeles and maybe even the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN (we have to admit that we are biased). We’ve seen companies like Apple and Microsoft succeed in opening their own stores, and we’ve long hoped that Nintendo would follow suit.
Of course, outside the retail trade, we’re all looking forward to visiting Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios. The first opens this summer in Tokyo. California should be next and Florida in a few years.
Don’t forget that Nintendo is working with Illumination (makers of Me, I’m Despicable) on a new animated film. It’s interesting to note (and we probably read too much about it) that Nintendo no longer seems to mention that it’s a Mario movie, even though this has been confirmed in the past. The film will be released in cinemas in 2022, and Miyamoto-san is co-producing it. We’re sure Mario is very involved with the new film, but perhaps the concept of the film has spread to other IPs? We’ll have to wait and see.
The Nintendo Switch continues to impress with excellent sales figures. Nintendo reports that more than 2 million consoles were sold in December, setting a new record since the release of Wii. Although 2018 was a milestone year for the digital switchover, 2019 was even more important in all markets and exceeded last year’s sales (23% in Japan, 16% in North America and 15% in Europe year-on-year).
On the software side, Nintendo apologised for the absence of Ring Fit Adventure in Japan. Luigi’s Mansion 3 sold twice as fast as the previous game in the series. Pokémon Sword & Shield sold 12.28 million units on the market in the first nine weeks, surpassing previous record holders: The sun and the moon. Nintendo’s first instalment of games sold 56.59 million copies, a 26% increase over 2018. Sales of games for third parties increased by 50 % over the same period.
Nintendo Switch Online currently has more than 15 million paying members worldwide. Nintendo says they will continue to increase the appeal of the service to give more functionality and fun to the Switch.
Compared to the hardware sales in 2018, the original Switch model fell slightly in 2019. The addition of Switch Lite hardware has increased the total considerably. However, Nintendo does not seem satisfied with the performance of the Switch Lite. In fact, according to personal anecdotal evidence, Lite doesn’t sell as well as Nintendo thought. Many shops have never been without units, while the original counter has often deflated throughout the country, especially this month (January 2020). Nintendo feels that they haven’t fully communicated the Switch Lite’s features and appeal, and we hope to be able to remedy this in the future.
Perhaps most interesting (and for us most disappointing), Nintendo has confirmed that it does not intend to release a new model of Nintendo Switch in 2020. This should put an end to the rumours that Switch Pro will be launched later this year.
It makes sense for Nintendo to anticipate these rumors, because they will certainly have a negative impact on the potential sales of consoles this year. By confirming that there will be no new switching models in 2020, they reassure potential buyers and enable them to shop with confidence. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be special editions and new colours!
Finally, Nintendo focused on the Switch and continues to develop new software for the platform. It’s no shock, but it’s interesting that they thought they had to say it. Perhaps Nintendo, with all the excitement surrounding the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X launches, just wanted to remind everyone that the Switch is already there and will remain their priority in the near future.
Nintendo Policy Brief | Q3 2020.
Craig has covered the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently editor and employee of Age of Games.
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