Gaming Reviews

Pokemon CEO Didn’t Think Nintendo Switch Would Succeed

The Nintendo Switch has been off to a successful start so far; even six months after launch, the console consistently sells out from retailers soon after supplies become available. Of course, this early success was hardly a forgone conclusion, and even the CEO of The Pokemon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, had doubts about the console’s prospects.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Ishihara revealed that he didn’t think Switch would appeal to players. “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,” he said through a translator. “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, despite being caught off-guard by its early success, he still expressed some reservations about the console. “Currently, it’s popular among the early adopters, but there needs to be one more step to attract a wider audience,” Ishihara said. “I see more potential in Switch, but one shouldn’t overestimate its potential.”

Nintendo owns a third of The Pokemon Company, which was initially established in 1998 to manage the Pokemon brand and its various licensing partnerships. At E3 this past June, Ishihara announced that a new core Pokemon RPG is in the works for Switch. While the game is still potentially “more than a year” away from release, Ishihara talked briefly about the project with Bloomberg.

“With the Switch, we see it 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 said. “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?”

The first Pokemon title for Switch, Pokken Tournament DX, launches on September 22. Nintendo recently released a trailer for the game that gives fans an overview of the new features that have been added to this port. Switch owners can also download a free demo of the Pokemon fighting game right now from the console’s Eshop; the full game, meanwhile, will only take up a tiny amount of the console’s memory.

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