Nintendo's Bait-and-Switch

Well, they just Osbourne'd the Switch... What now?
"We will make an announcement about the successor to Nintendo Switch within this fiscal year."
"It will have been over nine years since we announced the existence of Nintendo Switch back in March 2015..."

Whereas most companies prefer to avoid the Osbourne effect, Nintendo is not most companies:

This is Furukawa, President of Nintendo. We will make an announcement about the successor to Nintendo Switch within this fiscal year. It will have been over nine years since we announced the existence of Nintendo Switch back in March 2015. We will be holding a Nintendo Direct this June regarding the Nintendo Switch software lineup for the latter half of 2024, but please be aware that there will be no mention of the Nintendo Switch successor during that presentation.

Translation of the translation:

Hi there, Nintendo's President here, I go by one name, like a bad-ass. Nintendo's next console will be announced sometime between January 2025 and April 2025. Can you believe it has been almost a decade since we announced the Switch? Us either. And guess what, it *will be* over a decade by the time you hear about what's next! We know some of you were hoping to hear something about it in June, but no, sorry. That will be all about the current Switch software line-up. A device which we shall make obsolete within the next 10 months. Enjoy.

Why on Earth would Nintendo pre-announce an announcement? Seemingly because they had to throw a bone to Wall Street (well, Japan's equivalent, where the company is listed), as the company is now projecting profit to fall 24% and revenue to fall 19% for the year. Takashi Mochizuki on the news:

Both figures fell well shy of average analyst estimates and underscored the challenge for the company that’s still reliant on aging hardware.

Fans and investors have long awaited word on a succession plan for the 2017 gadget, which has ratcheted up more than 141 million sales over its lifetime. Nintendo has resisted discussing any plans and kept the original console going with marquee game releases. But it lost significant ground to a resurgent Sony Group Corp. with its PlayStation 5 over the past year, and will contest the key holiday season against newer and more powerful machines, including in Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox range.

Nintendo is a company that has long frustrated me. I love, love, love their products. And have since I was a child. But some of their business decisions are absolutely befuddling. Such as, you know, who could have foreseen that not releasing a new console in almost a decade would lead to a fall in sales?

To be fair to Nintendo, after the Wii U disaster, the company came roaring back – again, 141 million units sold! – with the Switch. And while the console has been long-in-the-tooth for years, sales have defied the odds up until now. But that's entirely based off of leveraging their IP. Namely, Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon. And they've now played all those cards and won't be able to play new ones for a while.

We live in a world where companies push out new smartphone hardware every single year. Sure, most consumers don't upgrade every single year, but most seem to within a few years. But with gaming consoles, the cycles have somehow gotten longer over time. Even though the chips powering the systems become out-of-date faster than ever. It's a weird dichotomy. And balance. Nintendo pushed it too far, this time, it seems.

Everyone had been expecting the 'Switch 2' – or, my preferred guess: 'Super Switch' – to debut this year. Which would have still been over seven years since the Switch went on sale in March 2017. Now we're just being promised an announcement by April 2025. Again, the Switch was first announced in March 2015, so there's some fear the next Switch could be even farther out. But let's hope/assume it's out in the world in time for the holiday season of 2025.

Nintendo certainly must be, because again, they just pre-announced to the world that it's coming. This isn't like Apple talking up their upcoming AI announcements non-stop (though also largely for Wall Street reasons) because there's nothing to not-buy as a result of that news. Here, Nintendo is going to have to implement some sort of new strategy to keep sales moving at least somewhat in the next year now:

“Now that this announcement is out in the world, I think Nintendo has no choice but to cut prices or offer attractive hardware and software bundles to get to the 13.5 million Switch units they want to sell this year,” said industry analyst Serkan Toto. “They will get through the Switch’s final year somehow, but I would not expect too many blockbusters until the new hardware arrives.”

Better get some more Nintendo movies out in the meantime... Or else everyone might get used to playing Nintendo games on their iPhone. Just saying...