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Former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime: “The Switch’s success was not a surprise to me”

Nintendo Switch
Nintendo

After eighth generation Nintendo console, the Wii U missed the mark in terms of hardware innovation, game development, and perhaps most importantly, sales, former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime had admitted in the past (via a New York Gaming Awards Twitch stream) that the Nintendo Switch was going to have to be a “make or break product” for the company.

As we now know, after the Nintendo Switch has sold three times as many consoles in the first two years of its existence than the Wii U did in its five year tenure as Nintendo’s main console and over 79.87 million units since its March 2017 launch — the Switch definitely has made it. Although the fact that the Nintendo Switch’s success has been a pleasant surprise to many gamers, especially those Nintendo loyalists who thought the company had faltered with both the Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo’s worst performing handheld) and the Wii U, the Switch’s success didn’t surprise Fils-Aime one bit.

Nintendo Switch's success

Nintendo

“No, it was not a surprise to me,” Fils-Aime said in a recent interview with Gamertag Radio. “And I say this because the first time I saw the Nintendo DS, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. The team was demoing an early, early prototype of what would become Nintendogs. Immediately I saw the potential. The first time I picked up a Wii Remote and played, again, a rudimentary experience that would become Wii Sports, I knew it was gonna be magical. The day that I sat with Mr. Iwata and held a prototype Switch and we talked about the concept, I knew it was going to be magical.”

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Fils-Aime went on to explain that the Nintendo Switch’s success hinges on the fact that it fulfilled a very, “fundamental consumer desire” — that is, the Switch’s unique portability.

“And I say this because the system was solving for a key player complaint, and that complaint is, I’m having fun, I’m playing my game, and now I need to stop because I got to go to work, or I got to go to school, and I can’t take my game with me,” Fils-Aime explained. “I can’t continue playing that game. So Switch, with the opportunity to play on that big screen TV, then take it out of the dock and go play in handheld mode, it met a fundamental consumer desire. That was the triggering moment. There were so many other smart things the company did – the support for Unity and Unreal, which allowed all of the great independent content to come. A number of other key decisions.”

Nintendo Switch's success, Animal Crossing

Nintendo

Nintendo just recently celebrated a monster holiday quarter in which the Switch’s console sales were greater than ever (11.57 million consoles sold). Mario Kart 8 and Animal Crossing: New Horizons both crossed 30 million units sold, while Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Pokemon Sword and Shield both sold more than 20 million a piece.

Are you surprised at the Nintendo Switch’s success? Or, much like former Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime, do you believe the Nintendo Switch’s success is unfolding exactly as it should have? Let us know in the comments.

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Ninja Gaiden was my rite of passage at an early age. After finally beating that game (and narrowly dodging carpal tunnel) I decided to write about my gaming exploits. These days I enjoy roguelikes and anything Pokemon but I'll always dust off Super Mario RPG, Donkey Kong Country and StarFox 64 from time to time to bask in their glory.

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