Nintendo was always going to have a tough time making 2018 look good compared to the Switch/Zelda/Mario miracle that was 2017, and its investors cut it zero breaks in a freshly translated Q&A session on Nintendo's official site (opens in new tab). Their prodding resulted in a rare look inside the company, including a teaser for an unannounced upcoming game and some insight into how 2018's hottest Switch games weren't quite hot enough for Nintendo's tastes. I've broken down the answers from the session down into four topics which should be interesting even if you don't own stock in this particular kabushiki kaisha.
Nintendo's planning a new online-focused game for Switch
Keep rolling with all our picks of the best Switch games (opens in new tab).
Nintendo Switch Online could use some more staying power for folks who aren't hardcore Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (opens in new tab) brawlers (on top of the weird library of NES titles, I mean). Nintendo game development boss Shinya Takahashi confirmed that one of its unannounced projects should fit the bill: "In addition to the titles we have already announced for scheduled release in 2019, we're also preparing for releasing software titles which would delight consumers including one that is a good fit for Nintendo Switch Online."
The company also revealed that an increasing number of Nintendo Switch Online members are opting for one-month subscriptions compared to when the service launched, when more than half went for the longest 12-month option. This is a cause for concern, since Nintendo wants to keep people playing (and paying) for as long as possible. All the more reason to add value to the service in the form of a new online-focused game.
Pokemon Let's Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate didn't reach as far as Nintendo wanted
Nintendo's two biggest holiday 2018 games were Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokemon Let's Go, the former of which sold just over 12 million copies and the latter 10 million as of December 31. Those are big numbers, but Nintendo still isn't quite satisfied with who bought them. Marketing and licensing chief Satoru Shibata (who you may remember as the former head of Nintendo of Europe) discussed the company's disappointment.
"With Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!/Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!, we asked 'How could we reach people who had played Pokémon GO, for example, but never played Nintendo Switch?' With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we asked 'How could we reach not only fans of the Super Smash Bros. series, but also those who had never played it before?' If you look at the demographics of the consumers who purchased each of these titles, Iʼm not convinced weʼve completely overcome these challenges yet. So our aims are to keep working on them this year, to expand sales of these titles to new consumer demographics, and to keep selling these games for a long time, which is one of our strengths."
Nintendo theme parks "will be really worth the wait"
Don't let the quiet fool you: Super Nintendo World is still coming (opens in new tab) and Nintendo luminary Shigeru Miyamoto is psyched: "Because the theme park is operated by Universal Parks & Resorts, we cannot talk about anything they have not yet announced. But every effort is being made to advance preparations, and Universal Studios Japan is in our top priorities, as is making sure we will be ready by the start of the Tokyo Olympics in [July] 2020. After the opening in Japan, Super Nintendo World areas will also be built in the parks in Hollywood and Orlando in the US for the enjoyment of everyone. We are in frequent contact with Universal Parks & Resorts, working closely together to develop the theme park from a creative standpoint. Building work on our area at Universal Studios Japan is progressing, and the construction of interiors will be starting on a full-scale operation. Osaka is close to Kyoto, so we check on the progress of the work frequently. I think it will be really worth the wait."
3DS sales dropped faster than Nintendo expected but "demand still remains"
Even as the 3DS software release schedule dried up, Nintendo's stated commitment to the handheld console has remained consistent. But even that is starting to show cracks, as Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa admitted that the 3DS' market "has contracted faster than we anticipated". Don't expect the company to drop the dedicated handheld just yet, as Furukawa argued that it remains popular for parents who want a small, affordable console.
"Demand still remains from parents looking to purchase a first game system for their children," Furukawa said. "That is why our basic policy is to proceed with both Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS in our dedicated video game platform business."
Our list of the upcoming Switch games (opens in new tab) will give you some fresh games to look forward to while we wait for more big announcements for Nintendo.