This morning, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa gave a presentation on the third quarter of the fiscal year that ends on the 31st. March 2020 ends. As always, we obtain additional information from what is included in the financial statements, and this time 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 broader group of consumers. To this end, they are constantly strengthening their presence through various channels. One of the most notable is a mobile game that brought traditional franchises to a wider audience. This will continue to be the case when content updates are made to existing games.
They opened a store in Tokyo last fall, and it’s been very busy ever since. Many customers have to wait a long time to get through the doors. Nintendo wants to expand its product offerings and increase the number of locations in these stores. They seem open to the idea of having more branches around the world. We know the London pop-up worked really well last year, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo opened new sites in major cities. It makes sense to open another one in Japan (hopefully in a bigger place), but also in places like Los Angeles and maybe even the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN (we have to admit we’re biased). We’ve seen companies like Apple and Microsoft succeed in opening their own stores, and we’ve long hoped Nintendo would follow suit.
Outside of retail, of course, we’re all looking forward to visiting Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios. The first one opens this summer in Tokyo. California should be next and Florida in a few years.
Also, don’t forget that Nintendo is working with Illumination (makers of Me, I’m Despicable) on a new animated movie. It’s interesting to note (and we’re probably reading too much into this) that Nintendo doesn’t seem to mention that it’s a Mario movie anymore, even though this has been confirmed in the past. The film will be released in theaters in 2022 and Miyamoto is co-producing it. We’re sure Mario is very involved in the new movie, but maybe the concept of the movie 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 the Wii. While 2018 was a milestone year for digital conversion, 2019 was even more significant in all markets, surpassing last year’s sales figures (23% in Japan, 16% in North America and 15% in Europe year-on-year).
On the software side, Nintendo apologized 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 in its first nine weeks on the market, surpassing previous record holders: The sun and the moon. Nintendo’s first part games sold 56.59 million copies, up 26% from 2018. Sales of games for third parties increased by 50 % over the same period.
Nintendo Switch Online currently has over 15 million paying members worldwide. Nintendo says they will continue to expand the appeal of the service to bring more functionality and fun to the Switch.
Compared to hardware sales in 2018, the original Switch model is down slightly in 2019. The addition of Switch Lite hardware has increased the total significantly. However, Nintendo doesn’t seem satisfied with the Switch Lite’s performance. In fact, according to personal anecdotal evidence, Lite isn’t selling as well as Nintendo thought. Many stores have never run out of units, while the original counter has often run out across the country, especially this month (January 2020). Nintendo feels that they haven’t fully communicated the special features and appeal of the Switch Lite, and we hope to remedy this in the future.
Perhaps most interestingly (and most disappointingly for us), Nintendo has confirmed that it has no plans to release a new model of Nintendo Switch in 2020. This should put an end to the rumors of Switch Pro launching later this year.
It makes sense for Nintendo to anticipate these rumors, as they are sure to negatively impact potential console sales this year. By confirming that there will be no new switching models in 2020, they reassure potential buyers and allow them to shop with confidence. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be special editions and new colors!
Finally, Nintendo has focused on the Switch and continues to develop new software for the platform. It’s not a shock, but it’s interesting that they thought they had to say it. Perhaps with all the excitement surrounding the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X launches, Nintendo just wanted to remind everyone that the Switch is already here and will remain their priority for the foreseeable future.
Nintendo Policy Briefing | Q3 2020.
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently an editor and contributor to Age of Games.
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