Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, is at E3 in Los Angeles this week to promote Nintendo's latest resurgence and hype people up on the coming year of Switch and 3DS games. But he's also ready to field questions, and we had a bunch.
After grilling the man, here are some of our key findings.
On whether Nintendo expects its customers to carry both a Switch and a 3DS around with them: Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo: What we expect is that for the Nintendo 3DS family of devices, the appeal is a thousand different games, a wide range of different experiences, a wide range of different formats, whether it's the New 2DS XL or whether they brought a new 3DS last year or whether they buy a New 3DS XL. We think that consumer is looking for essentially exclusively portable type of games and experiences. And they want to have content for that vast library.
"We really do see [the Nintendo Switch purchaser] much more as a consumer who is motivated for a home console experience but they never want to leave their game behind. But they will always take it with them."
On how, after promising to have a steady stream of releases from Nintendo for Wii and Wii U and not quite hitting the mark Nintendo seems to be doing so with Switch: Fils-Aime: First, it was a dedicated focus coming out of Wii U to make sure that we had the steady cadence of games. As I look at Wii U from a business perspective, that's the one thing we were not able to do as well as we hoped. So it was clearly a priority.
Second, we have many more developers today working on our content than we did five years ago or even 10 years ago.
Stephen Totilo, Kotaku: You even mean internal?
Fils-Aime: Internal, right. Exactly. We've got that new development building in Kyoto that's full of hardware and software developers. So we have a lot more development staff than we did at the beginning of the Wii U generation and certainly throughout the Wii generation.
This third-party headset from Hori recently got us talking about how cumbersome Switch voice chat, which requires a mobile app, may be. But Reggie cautions that this is just one execution of the way it may work.
On why in the world Nintendo is going to require use of a mobile phone when using voice-chat for the Switch, given that everyone else, and even Nintendo, has previously done console voice-chat directly through the console:
Fils-Aime: We actually think that the phone is going to deliver a better, more robust execution. In terms of the APIs that we can build into an app, the fact that phones are ubiquitous, the fact that it allows us to do much more rapid improvements and updates to the service, that's why we think a phone execution — and specifically a mobile app execution — is going to be better for the consumer.
Totilo: It just seems cumbersome that I'm going to have to plug my headset into a phone into a system, those wires…
Fils-Aime: So let's be clear. What you've seen is the execution by one particular supplier. That is not going to be the only solution.
Totilo: But it's going to require a phone no matter what?
Fils-Aime: It's going to require a phone. It's going to require a mobile device and be delivered by an app.
On the possibility of the Virtual Console for Switch, separate from whatever Nintendo is planning to do with its $US20 ($26) online service which was recently delayed to 2018 and is set to include a subscription-based library of legacy games:
Totilo: Have you guys said if there's going to be, aside from all that, a Virtual Console experience?
Fils-Aime: We've not used the term Virtual Console.
[Editor's Note: In a press release in February, Nintendo did use the term — "Virtual Console games will not be available on Nintendo Switch at launch. We will share more information in the future." — though not in a way that necessarily describes a specific planned service.]
Totilo: Do you plan to sell your older games to people? People got used to that with Wii and Wii U as downloads.
Fils-Aime: What we've said is that as we communicate the specifics of the Nintendo Switch online service then at that point we'll communicate what it is we're doing with our legacy content.
Totilo: It'd be great to be able to download and play some GameCube games on my Switch, Reggie. I'm just telling you.
Fils-Aime: I see a lot of consumers hoping and wishing for that online.
Super Mario Odyssey was Nintendo's most impressive game at E3. Reggie told me that the Switch demographic, fuelled by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, has attracted the "young adult, active player, a consumer who played a ton of hours" and that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has added more parents and kids. He predicts that this Mario game will widen Switch out to Nintendo's true target: anyone from age nine to 95.