Nintendo France Boss on Why They Don’t Pursue 4K/VR: ‘If We Do The Same as Others, We Are Doomed To Die’

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Jan 12
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With Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, Microsoft’s Xbox One X and obviously PC featuring cutting edge hardware that supports 4K resolution, High Dynamic Range and Virtual Reality devices, the only ones left out of this technological push forward are Nintendo fans. Even though the Switch released only about ten months ago, it doesn’t support any of those technologies.

During E3 2017, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime commented that the 4K audience was just too limited for the company, whose goal was to hit a more mainstream audience.

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However, that’s only really part of the story. In a recent interview with French website LesNumeriques, Nintendo France General Manager Philippe Lavoué (who has been with Nintendo for seven years now) provided a more frank explanation in addition to Reggie Fils-Aime’s.

We are very pragmatic. You look at VR headsets, I have doubts about their ability to seduce the public. And consumers are not patient with entertainment if you are not able to offer them a complete solution. As for 4K, should we invest in a technology that is not widely adopted? Where are the 4K screens today? Should we invest before the consumer has adopted the technology? We can not invest everywhere. And what will be new compared to competitors? If we do the same thing as others, we are doomed to die because we are smaller than them. With the Switch, we have the merit of proposing different uses adapted to the pace of users’ lives. The advantage is to be able to fit into your daily life. The use of video games thus becomes less exceptional.

Surely that audience may not be as mainstream as Nintendo would like (though 4K screens are undoubtedly becoming very common in 2018), but there’s more: Nintendo didn’t even try to compete from a hardware standpoint with Sony and Microsoft in the past three console generations (Wii, WiiU, Switch) and that is at least partly because they feel they might be bringing a knife to a gunfight against much bigger corporations.

Then again, I would argue that there is a middle ground to be found. While it might be wise for Nintendo not to go toe-to-toe on that front, they would also reap benefits of manufacturing even slightly more powerful consoles. For example, the Nintendo Switch isn’t that far off Xbox One in terms of raw power and with a bit more juice in the hardware, Nintendo could have made the work of developers easier while avoiding the usual cutting of graphics effects, resolution, textures quality and more.

Still, the Nintendo Switch is selling well above expectations for the time being. In fact, it recently became the fastest selling home console ever released in both Japan and the United States of America. Will it be able to keep the sales momentum this year and going forward, though? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

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