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Nintendo President: Generational Transitions in Gaming Consoles is Never Easy

Nintendo President: Generational Transitions in Gaming Consoles is Never Easy - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 07 February 2024 / 4,684 Views

Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa speaking during a Q&A session with shareholders was asked what risks it was mindful of as it looks to continue to build on the success on the Nintendo Switch.

Furukawa is well aware that because one console is a huge success it isn't guaranteed to carry over to the next console. As an example, the Wii sold 101.63 million units, while the successor, the Wii U, only sold 13.56 million units.

"We approach our business every day with a profound sense of urgency," said Furukawa (via a translation by VideoGamesChronicle).

"The generational transition of platforms in the dedicated gaming console business is never easy. We have experienced significant challenges following successful platforms multiple times, so we never consider our current situation to be totally secure.

"Furthermore, as you pointed out, our business is always exposed to great competition. From a broader entertainment perspective, not only video games but also various forms of leisure are competitors in this industry. In this environment, there’s an increasing need, more than ever before, to continue offering unique propositions to become a brand that customers choose."

Nintendo has yet to discuss the successor to the Nintendo Switch. However, there are rumors the Switch 2 will launch later this year.


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012 and taking over the hardware estimates in 2017. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel. You can contact the author on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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33 Comments
IcaroRibeiro (on 07 February 2024)

I don't know if I agree with this statement. Xbox and Sony always have smooth transitions, we've never seem them collapsing from one console to another. This is because those companies focus in just releasing iterative versions of their consoles, generally just an upgraded version of their last console and as such most customers don't have many problems wondering whether they should upgrade or not

It's more like Nintendo often goes to very questionable market strategies and poor choices for system design which led them to bombing. If Switch 2 is just an iterative upgrade from standard Switch Nintendo will have a smooth transition as well

  • +8
mjk45 IcaroRibeiro (on 07 February 2024)

We need to look at the history up until the Wii Nintendo home consoles biggest seller was the nes with 61 million followed by the snes with 49 million N64 32 million Gamecube 21 million notice a pattern so in many ways the Wii was an outlier, and the Wii u continued the pattern , until the Switch broke the pattern by combining their home and portable gaming markets. but I agree now they have one market they will do great.

  • +4
zero129 mjk45 (on 07 February 2024)

Problem was GC was made to look and pretty much marketed as something for kids while PS had this cool edge to it. If Nintendo had to market the GC more to the teens and made it look like more than a toy id bet it would of sold much better.

  • +1
SuntannedDuck2 zero129 (on 07 February 2024)

I always hear different things. Some people say it's the console design looked for kids, others the marketing, others the families didn't know the GameCube was a family console option (which with tonal shifts in games or whatever games they did offer or see in marketing I guess?) so I guess they went with no console or PS2 as DVD player or more noticeable family games on it whoever those people were that had that mindset?

I hear so many different things I don't know to believe. I never owned a GameCube I still don't. But I do a Wii.

To me the GameCube just looks compact in a while not ideal for disks but in a cool oh consoles can be that small way the same as compacting a PC to a certain shell size.

The handle is cool and I wouldn't want a white/black box all the time it gets boring. Sure purple or orange is a bit much but seen as that childish? What colours are safe enough for adult perception without sucking all colour and life out of something?

GBA (player or 4 GBAs hooked up for some Dreamcast VMU or pre-Wii U aspects) I think is cool. But I think tech or don't care that much what something looks like until I go oh those look really horrible.

  • 0
Garrus SuntannedDuck2 (on 07 February 2024)

The Gamecube could have looked like the Wii though. Would have sold better.

  • +2
SuntannedDuck2 Garrus (on 07 February 2024)

Probably yeah it could have. Whether the Apple marketing angle still (then the angle they went with GameCube), the DS/Wii tried to have or just well the device as the more thin, more white but also colourful versions. Yeah I guess so.

I just don't find the GameCube that lunch box or childish but that's just me. I don't like slim devices anyway but smaller that I don't mind.

But I don't think the same way others do with tech.

  • 0
Pemalite SuntannedDuck2 (on 07 February 2024)

It's likely a combination of everything.
1) No DVD.
2) Poor Marketing.
3) Console design.

You can't really attribute a consoles success or failure to only a single point, it never works that way... As we all have different personal tastes and requirements.

I.E. I don't care about a lack of a DVD player, but parents buying a console for their kid might.

  • 0
Shtinamin_ IcaroRibeiro (on 07 February 2024)

Hasn't it been rumored that the successor will be an "iteration rather than a revolution"?

  • +2
IcaroRibeiro Shtinamin_ (on 07 February 2024)

I think they will go for iterative route as well. Switch 2 will sell a lot, specially if has unified store and BC compatibility

  • +2
mjk45 Shtinamin_ (on 07 February 2024)

True but what muddied the waters for me was when asked about a new console Furukawa said innovation development would determine the timing since Nintendo thrived when it innovated but that was a fair while ago, around the time questions directed at management of a Switch successor started to gain momentum, my feeling is there will be some innovation but it won't be of the same scale as the Switch v Wii U especially now when they have all their eggs in the hybrid basket.

  • +3
Garrus IcaroRibeiro (on 07 February 2024)

Yeah Sony has sold more than the best selling Xbox, every generation, no flops. 5 generations in a row beating 87 million. Nintendo is the one that can't transition because they keep on changing their hardware. The PS is basically the same every generation, just faster.

  • -1
siebensus4 Garrus (on 08 February 2024)

You could say that the 3DS is basically a more powerful DS - but it still ended up selling only the half of DS. PS3 also sold just a bit more than the half of PS2.

  • 0
Garrus siebensus4 (on 08 February 2024)

that's not a good comparison, as both the PS3 and 3DS were successful

i didn't say they would sell the same, I said there have been no flops like the Gamecube or Wii U

  • 0
Niever Garrus (on 11 February 2024)

It depends on how you define a success. PS3 sold a very good amount but lost marketshare.

Further it bled money, becoming a very large net loss monetarily.

At the same time there is a large value in keeping loyal customers who will buy the next console and keep the brand and IPs alive or even growing.

It’s hard to compare with Wiiu and GC as both companies had handhelds at the same time. But looking at the quarterly profit/loss of SIE and Nintendo it looks like the ps3 lost more money than either of them.
But I would still say it’s more successful as a larger user base can migrate to a new system (ps4) while Nintendo had to regain a huge amount of their player base both times.

  • +1
Garrus Niever (on 12 February 2024)

That was not true, that was pushed by a lot of reporters without a factual basis.

"In January 2009 Sony announced that their gaming division was profitable in Q3 2008. As of January 2008, each unit cost around $400 to manufacture; by August 2009, Sony had reduced costs by a total of 70%, meaning it only cost Sony around $240 per unit."

Also the game division overall was making a lot of money by 2010, and the losses until then were from heavy investments in game production, not losses on PS3 sales of hardware.

  • 0
Wman1996 IcaroRibeiro (on 07 February 2024)

PS3 was not a smooth transition from a financial perspective. PS2 owners were still respected but that was out of necessity of the PS3 struggling at first. PS3 slowly built-up software but didn't really hit a big shift until 2009 with the PS3 Slim.
I'll give you Xbox having a smooth transition each time.

  • +5
Qwark Wman1996 (on 08 February 2024)

Xbox 360 to Xbox One wasn't smooth at all and that was a terrible gen to lose, due to the digital library becoming much more relevant.

  • +5
Garrus Qwark (on 08 February 2024)

I think Microsoft had the right idea for the Series S, they just messed up a tiny bit, with a lack of VRAM, and no 4k support.

I'd be in favor of a new $300 console. The Radeon 8600 XT is coming, and that with 16GB and for $300 would make an awesome Series S successor, so I hope Xbox doesn't give up, especially with the cheaper model.

  • 0
Wman1996 Qwark (on 08 February 2024)

Xbox One fixed many issues from its unveiling before launch and ended up selling the console without Kinect by 2014. It also had stronger launch window sales than the 360, I wouldn't call it particularly smooth, but it could've been a disaster that led to the Xbox One only selling 25-30 million lifetime instead of about 58 million like it did.
Xbox One had little hope of winning the 8th Generation. 360 only sold close to the PS3 lifetime sales (and it won in software and subscriptions) because of Sony's stupidity with the PS3's early years.
A very competently handled Xbox One would've sold around 360 and PS4 would've finished around 88-95 million. I suppose a near tie is a lot better than a loss. But let's not think winning the generation was on the table.

  • 0
Mar1217 Wman1996 (on 08 February 2024)

But what are we supposed to classify this recent generation as for the Series S/X ?
You could argue that despite the COVID the transition to it was even more smooth sailing than the one on Xbox One and yet now more than 3 years into it, it's sliding behind even that.
Proof that smooth transition gen over gen helps in the short term but are not the deciding factor as to why a console becomes successful ultimately imo

  • +1
Wman1996 Mar1217 (on 08 February 2024)

That's true. I do feel though when Nintendo drops the ball in sales there's not a smooth transition at the start.
Wii U might've sold well during its launch, but it was already struggling in January.
N64 fizzled out a lot after November 2000 and GameCube had a lot of quality software but was destroyed by the PS2. GameCube's 2006 was quite barren compared to its earlier years and one of the few transition choices was Twilight Princess going cross-gen.
And Nintendo just let the Wii U die instead of injecting some energy in 2016. If it weren't for still offering Breath of the Wild on Wii U in 2017, the Wii U would effectively (even if not literally) be dead after 2015.

  • +1
Jumpin IcaroRibeiro (on 08 February 2024)

Well, except for the PS3, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series. As none of those were smooth transitions from the previous generation without serious issues.

So really, you have PS2, PS4, and Xbox 360 that had relatively smooth transitions.

  • 0
IcaroRibeiro Jumpin (on 08 February 2024)

PS5, Xbone and Series were all smooth transitions

I'd say PS3 was smooth transition as well, for customers. For Sony it wasn't

  • 0
Jumpin IcaroRibeiro (on 08 February 2024)

Keep in mind, he’s specifically talking about the challenges Nintendo deals with. And while PS5 is smooth in 2024, the transition was anything but smooth given the numerous production issues for the console which resulted in years of distribution issues and a flop in its home country of Japan—it literally took years to overcome those challenges. And I wouldn’t say Xbox Series X or S has been smooth either; there was the challenge of creating and marketing a product to increase brand relevance after a significant decline with the Xbox One over 360. And it must have been a major challenge for Microsoft, because they have failed to overcome it. Once again, this generation of Xbox declined from the previous generation. Now there’s discussion of the end of Xbox hardware.

  • +1
IcaroRibeiro Jumpin (on 08 February 2024)

PS5 was going to flop regardless in Japan, Japanese people don't like Playstation games anymore. The PS5 sales tracked only slightly behind PS4 worldwide launch aligned, the transition was smooth

Series SX tracked ahead of Xbone, meaning their transation was also successful. The problem here is the same as every generation, lackluster software releases which make people losing their confidence in the brand and of course the decrease in sales with time

  • +1
Qwark IcaroRibeiro (on 08 February 2024)

I wouldn't say being on track to selling 10 million on a population of 120 million is really a flop to begin with. Still a pretty decent attach rate.

  • 0
RolStoppable IcaroRibeiro (on 09 February 2024)

Microsoft only ever had one console that can be called successful (Xbox 360) and the head of Xbox was fired within one year of the Xbox One launch.

Sony's PS3 sent the father of PlayStation into early retirement. Sony's Vita was not only a collapse, it led to an exit of the handheld space altogether.

  • +1
padib (on 07 February 2024)

These guys are cautious. That's wise, I like it. Don't sit on your laurels and keep bringing fresh new gaming experiences that gamers actually want to play, like you did for the Switch, and everything will be just fine. Stay competitive Ninty.

  • +6
JackHandy (on 08 February 2024)

It's pretty common across the whole industry to fall back after being the top dog. Only a few times has the market leader (home consoles) continued to dominate the following gen.

  • +1
firebush03 JackHandy (on 08 February 2024)

Nintendo probably has no interest in playing risky this coming generation. They’ve clearly found a crazy successful formula…and seeing what they pulled off last year, I believe the successor does truly have potential to match very close to the success of Switch.

  • 0
SuperRetroTurbo (on 07 February 2024)

I've got a strong feeling, the Switch's successor will implement AR in some way shape or form.

  • 0
hellobion2 (on 07 February 2024)

The end of an era

  • -5
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