Have you been disappointed repurchasing games on your Nintendo Switch which were already available on Nintendo Wii U? Nintendo has been acknowledging for years that locking games to specific platforms has been a challenge — resulting in a shortage of games as the company moves from one generation to the next. Satoru Iwata, who passed away in 2015 while serving as Nintendo President made comments specifically covering this challenge back in 2014. He used iOS & Android as an example when describing his desire to have Nintendo’s next generation support a single software platform across a variety of hardware form factors.
The number of form factors might increase. Currently, we can only provide two form factors because if we had three or four different architectures, we would face serious shortages of software on every platform. To cite a specific case, Apple is able to release smart devices with various form factors one after another because there is one way of programming adopted by all platforms. Apple has a common platform called iOS. Another example is Android. Though there are various models, Android does not face software shortages because there is one common way of programming on the Android platform that works with various models.
The point is, Nintendo platforms should be like those two examples. Whether we will ultimately need just one device will be determined by what consumers demand in the future, and that is not something we know at the moment. However, we are hoping to change and correct the situation in which we develop games for different platforms individually and sometimes disappoint consumers with game shortages as we attempt to move from one platform to another, and we believe that we will be able to deliver tangible results in the future.
At the time of Iwata’s comments back in 2014, it sounded mainly like wishful thinking as opposed to a specific goal that Nintendo was setting. But given the emphasis on releasing “complete” editions of Wii U games over the past year, it’s now clear that Nintendo is playing a long-term game.
Nintendo Switch made major waves in 2017 with it’s unique form factor — breaking the mold from standard home console and portable gaming conventions. At this point, Nintendo could choose to release a variety of Switch form factors that support the same software games and operating system — effectively making the 2017 system the first in a platform which could be supported for years to come:
Read Iwata’s full comments from 2014 here — You can find the comments quoted here on Page 2: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/events/140130qa/index.html