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Filed under: Industry People, Masahiro Sakurai

“My Thoughts On The Nintendo Switch” — Sakurai’s Famitsu Column Vol. 523

Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation.When reporting on this translation you must mention that it was translated by Source Gaming. For additional information, please read this post. This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai. The following is a selection from Famitsu. If you enjoyed this article, I would strongly encourage you to support Sakurai by buying his books.

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I am writing this manuscript on the eve of the day of the Nintendo Switch presentation. The release date and price of the system were revealed.

I’d like to list off three of my personal opinions and reactions, in order of impact.

It’s coming out so soon!

March 3rd. The release date was much earlier than I had anticipated. There have been a lot of video game consoles, but I’m not sure if there has been any whose release date was so close to its formal reveal.

It’s cheap!

I think that this price, when you consider that the Switch has a capacitive LCD touchscreen, and comes with a dock, an adapter, various cables, and more, is very reasonable. The controllers have a lot of transmitters and receivers, which makes them expensive, but the Switch comes with two.


The Switch is not region-locked, meaning that it can play foreign games with no restrictions. As someone who likes to play a lot of games from other regions, I’m very pleased. Of course it’s a general policy, so there may be extreme cases where restrictions are put in place.

People tend to think of me as someone who solely works for or with Nintendo, but I actually didn’t know of this information until I saw the presentation. Can I really play Breath of the Wild on March 3rd? It almost doesn’t feel real.

There were some other features that were revealed. One was that Nintendo’s online service will now need to be paid for. It’s a free trial until the fall, and from that point onwards, online multiplayer will require a fee. Basically, it’ll function similarly to PS Plus. The price and other details have not been revealed yet.

Until now, Nintendo generally allowed players to play online for free. However, that requires a cost. Specifically, when a console has a lot of games with a long life cycle, you realize that offering free online services simply doesn’t make sense financially. You may find it hard to accept or understand that a service that was once free for you now costs money, but as a player, it will eventually make sense for you. There’s a lot of free to play games out there, and sometimes that’s considered the standard. The Switch will probably get some free games as well, and there will probably be some where you can play without paying for the online service, but that’s a separate topic. Getting people to understand the benefits of paid online will take a long time.

Drifting away slightly from the topic of reveals from the presentation, as someone who is both close and far to Nintendo, this is my biggest expectation and hope for the Switch: the consolidation of all of Nintendo’s releases onto one platform.

Since the days of the Game Boy, Nintendo has needed to separate their development teams across two platforms. A handheld division, and a home console division. Second and third parties also have to choose between one and the other, or both. The differences in architecture between handheld and home console architectures has been so different, making the same game on both platforms has been impossible. I think on Nintendo’s side, the only game that’s really succeeded in that regard has been Smash for Wii U/3DS.

In the past, when Nintendo approached the release of new hardware, they might even have had teams working on three or more different platforms at once. Before, directors, departments, and studios might have been working on different platforms, but now the Switch can unify all of that development power. On a simple level, we can expect a big increase in Nintendo’s development power.

Because of the complexity, depth, and content expected of modern games, there may be some trade-offs to this approach, but I think being able to increase your development capacity in this day and age is something worth celebrating. Because in the end, software is what decides success and failure, not the hardware details.

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  1. From what I gather, a lot of Japanese developers view the Switch as a good value due to all the various features. I wish Western gamers weren’t so fixated on raw hardware specs.

    “this is my biggest expectation and hope for the Switch: the consolidation of all of Nintendo’s releases onto one platform.”

    Bingo. This is always what excited me most about the idea of a hybrid device. Though now Nintendo is saying there’s still more coming to the 3DS, so we might have to wait a bit longer.

    Igiulaw on February 1 |
  2. That last quote is perfect:

    “Because in the end, software is what decides success and failure, not the hardware details.”

    Ersatz on February 1 |
  3. “There have been a lot of video game consoles, but I’m not sure if there has been any whose release date was so close to its formal reveal”. Actually Mr Sakurai, the Sega Saturn was released the day it was announced

    Isaac: Venus Adept on February 2 |
    • Not in Japan though. It only was the US release.

      Wolfy76700 on February 2 |
  4. It is impossible to please everyone, especially with online functionalities. Now that we know the price for online and its manageable features, many but not all people will start to like this new approach.

    Globallink99 on February 2 |
  5. Should have announced smash

    danyal858 on February 3 |
    • They should definetly announce it at E3 and launch it before Christmas.

      cedrickterrick on February 6 |
  6. I’ve come someways more towards the paid online thing, I get that it’s just a think that has to happen at this point. There is one point he made that I do have a slight caveat about, though. He sees it as a good thing that the handheld and console development teams can consolidate instead of having to divide their attention between them or only focus on one. I can understand why this is a good move, but it all but assures my concern that the 3DS is probably gonna be replaced by the Switch as well. Obviously, supporting two handhelds when one is more powerful and versatile than the other makes absolutely no sense for Nintendo, so I can’t argue that point. I’m just gonna miss some of the more unique games we got thanks to the DS’s two screens, since the Switch only ever uses one at a time. Some of my favorite 3/DS games like The World Ends With You, Kid Icarus Uprising and the Etrian Odyssey series worked by having two screen, though I’ll have to admit that they could be worked around to use only one. Well, we’ll see how things turn out for the 3DS, but I can’t be too optimistic about it.

    Spiral on February 13 |