A wide variety of topics came up during the recent Nintendo shareholders meeting, including the future of Nintendo Switch Online. But one of the more interesting subjects is the video game giant’s stance on cloud gaming and 5G as new communication technology.
One of the shareholders said Nintendo gives the impression of being slow to adopt new trends or adapt to widespread changes, pointing out VR, cloud gaming, and 5G as specific examples.
Nintendo of Japan President Shuntaro Furukawa, Representative Director Shigeru Miyamoto, and Senior Executive Officer Ko Shiota provided a response and some background on Nintendo’s thought process when it comes to technological innovation.
On cloud gaming, Furukawa said Nintendo understands delivering games via the cloud will eventually become more common, and the company will keep pace with changes as they occur. More importantly, he said Nintendo sees such changes as another chance to take advantage of the company’s hardware-and-software integration, saying cloud gaming:
will just give us more opportunities with our integrated hardware and software development approach to reach people worldwide with the unique entertainment that Nintendo can provide
Miyamoto further clarified the company’s stance on innovation by pointing out what the consumer sees isn’t the extent of what the company does. He clarified that Nintendo was working on VR long before delivering the Labo announcement and said, “Because we don’t publicize this [behind the scenes work] until we release a product, it may look like we’re falling behind.”
Miyamoto is also a bit less certain about cloud gaming being the extent of gaming’s future. He pointed to Super Mario Run‘s install base of more than 300 million as an example of how there will always be demand for various ways to play games, including demand for those that can only be enjoyed running locally.
In other words, Nintendo will probably be offering more games through cloud-based delivery, but don’t expect it to be their next big thing.
One reason for that is the technology available for stable cloud gaming. Shiota pointed out that Nintendo doesn’t always go after the latest technology because the company wants to prioritize the best choices for its main focus: what new experiences it can offer and how those will affect the consumer.
5G is often looked at as the answer to cloud streaming’s current problems, given its ability to avoid latency issues. However, considering it’s new, largely untested, and very, very expensive at the present, Shiota said it’s not the best option for Nintendo given the cost of running 5G technology, though the company is still looking into it.
It’s understandable Nintendo isn’t making cloud gaming a major priority for the Switch’s future when one considers The Witcher 3 manages to fit the game and all its DLC on one Switch card.
It’s also an interesting move from a company often considered out of touch with its consumers. As people look forward with dread to a digital-only future where one never owns one’s games, Nintendo is apparently committed to delivering at least some content we can all proudly display on a shelf somewhere.