Nintendo’s new hybrid Switch may upend the company’s two-decade-old strategy that was the envy of rivals: having twin product lines — home console and a handheld gaming device.
For more than two decades, Nintendo’s twin product lines were the envy of its rivals: a home console and a handheld gaming device. But signs are emerging its new hybrid Switch may upend all of that.
Starting with 1989’s Game Boy, the Kyoto-based company has effectively doubled its market audience by getting gamers to buy one device for home and another for outside. That also allowed Nintendo to market consoles like the Wii as the higher-end product, with game titles costing more and averaging nine per household, versus five for handheld systems.
While Nintendo hasn’t said it’s abandoning the two-gadget strategy, the signs are there. The home and handheld development teams were merged in 2013, with the company beginning work on the Switch the following year. Last quarter, Nintendo stopped reporting separate revenue for handheld and home systems. Then last month, it said a new Pokemon title for the Switch is in development, the first time a main game in the series will debut outside of a dedicated handheld system such as the Game Boy or 3DS.
“The 3DS will hang around for a few years because of the big install base, but ultimately the goal is for the Switch to become their one and only platform for hardware,” said David Gibson, a Tokyo-based analyst at Macquarie. “It’s part of the biggest evolution to the company in three decades.”
A Nintendo spokesman acknowledged the change to its revenue reporting was a result of the Switch but declined to elaborate.
Last month, at Nintendo’s shareholder meeting, President Tatsumi Kimishima was vague on the topic, suggesting that handheld devices would still be around. “We understand that Nintendo Switch is diversifying the way people play games,” he said. “We hope to provide as…