A portion of an Alist interview with Nintendo’s Doug Bowser…
A: What role does esports or competitive gaming play for Nintendo?
DB: In our mind, the definition of esports is pretty broad. It can go from one end of the spectrum—which I would call underwriting sponsorships, team support, etc.—to the other end of the spectrum, which is just fun, competitive multiplayer gaming. I would say we’re really trying to promote fun, competitive multiplayer gaming. We’ve obviously had a few tournaments at E3 with ARMS, Splatoon 2 and Pokkén Tournament DX going on. And we’ve been involved in esports competitions in the past with Smash Bros. at E3 and Comic-Con. Two years ago, we had the Nintendo World Championships at E3. But that’s not to indicate that we’re planning to get into esports as many people are defining it. It’s just that we want to be able to promote some great games that we think have an ability to be fun and competitive and that you can play on the couch with your friends and family—and/or they could be introduced to other esports venues potentially down the road.
A: How does esports impact Nintendo developers as they create new titles like ARMS or Splatoon 2?
DB: I don’t know that we designed the games with an esports end-game in mind. It’s more that we know that players like these type of fun, competitive games, and we’re looking for different ways to design games that meet that need or desire, so you see that. To your point, in Splatoon, it’s a very different way to have a combat turf war. ARMS introduces more of a fighting mechanic, but it’s fun, it’s competitive. Then Pokkén Tournament DX has an orientation more like a Smash Bros. in terms of its gameplay style. So, it’s more that we want to create a variety of different competitive games.
A: Last year, some people were counting Nintendo out after the Wii U, but the Switch is clearly an early hit. What went right this time?
DB: Well, we’re pleased with the results so far. There clearly is a demand for the product and we think it’s a combination of factors. First of all, it’s the uniqueness of the platform itself in that it’s a home console that you can pull out and take on the go and play in a variety of different styles. Then there’s the ability to play in different modes with different controllers and with different numbers of players. When you get to the portable nature of it with Tabletop Mode, you can stack a number of Switches around the table so everyone can compete against each other with different perspectives either on one device, or each on their own respective devices. That unique playing proposition is what’s been driving the demand to this point, and then it’s about great content. It started with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was attaching pretty much one-to-one to every unit sold, and then it continues on with the titles we’ve launched since then like Mario Kart 8. So, it’s that combination of unique hardware proposition with some great games that people are looking forward to playing
A: EA has a separate team working on a special FIFA soccer game for Switch. How is the early success of Switch getting third party publishers interested?
DB: Back in February, we announced we had 70 developers or publishers building 100 games. Since that time, each of those numbers has more than doubled, and it runs the gamut from indies all the way to major publishers. At the E3 press conferences, with the exception of Sony, everyone mentioned Nintendo Switch. Even our friends at Microsoft talked about some of the cross-play opportunities. That’s an indication of support, and we thank them and we look forward to it.
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