Pokemon CEO Told Nintendo The Switch Would Fail

Ishihara assumed Switch's mobility would pit it, unsuccessfully, against smart phones. He later realized software was key.


With such a focus on standing out from fellow console manufacturers while leaning on elements that can be perceived as “gimmicky”, consumers can’t be blamed for doubting the future success of a Nintendo console despite the company’s pedigree. It turns out that even Pokemon’s CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara, someone we’d assume is a great deal more in-the-know when it comes to Nintendo, didn’t think the Nintendo Switch would be successful.

Ishihara had a lot to say about Pokemon in his interview with Bloomberg, as reported by GoNintendo. He spoke of the potential of a mainstream Pokemon game on the Switch platform, which we know for certain is coming eventually. Pokemon GO has been quite successful, but Ishihara believes Pokemon on Switch presents an opportunity to go deeper. Accessories like the GO wristband are being considered and he even said that augmented reality falls into line with the Pokemon Company's vision for the franchise.

His current faith in the Switch platform wasn't always as strong as it is now and Ishihara even broke down exactly why he didn't think the Switch would do well once it hit retailers. 

“I told Nintendo that Switch wouldn’t be a success before it went on sale because I thought that in the age of the smartphone, no one would carry out a game console," he said. "It’s obvious I was wrong."

Wrong indeed. The Switch has been moving pretty impressive numbers in Japan and North America, even giving Gamestop's quarterly earnings a boost. What element of Ishihara's analysis was missing? He believes it was software, something Nintendo has a wonderful track record in. Even then, he's careful to heap praise on the console.

"I came to realize the key to a successful game is quite simple. Software with absolute quality leads sales of hardware. Playing style can be flexible if the software is attractive enough. Currently, it’s popular among the early adopters, but there needs to be one more step to attract a wider audience. I see more potential in Switch, but one shouldn’t overestimate its potential.”

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Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at Charles.Singletary@Shacknews.com.

From The Chatty
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    September 6, 2017 3:15 PM

    Charles Singletary posted a new article, Pokemon CEO Told Nintendo The Switch Would Fail

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      September 6, 2017 3:23 PM

      So he is a shacker ...

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      September 6, 2017 3:26 PM

      TIL Pokémon had its own CEO

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        September 6, 2017 3:27 PM

        I mean it's called The Pokemon Company...

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          September 6, 2017 3:32 PM

          Haven't played Pokémon in years. Sorry

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            September 6, 2017 3:45 PM

            It's actually pretty complicated - company named Game Freak made the original games and still makes some of the games today, Pokemon becomes so successful a new company joint-owned by Nintendo, Game Freak and another company called Creatures is formed called The Pokemon Company. This is why things like the Pokedex and the Pokemon Card Game come to iOS and Android and shit years before Super Mario Run, and why it was a big deal that Super Mario Run was Nintendo's first iPhone game even though Pokemon GO had been out a while.

            This is what lead to all that confusion last year when Nintendo's stock jumps up considerably when Pokemon GO is a huge hit and then craters again when trigger happy investors "discover" that Nintendo doesn't own Pokemon outright.

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              September 6, 2017 4:11 PM

              Haha that's pretty interesting. I thought Nintendo owned the majority if not all of Pokémon. I guess not!

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                September 6, 2017 5:42 PM

                Nintendo “technically” does own Pokémon. They own the exclusive trademarks (the name, all the characters, all the logos, etc) which no matter how complicated things are spelled out here pretty much puts them in the driver’s seat. You can’t do shit without Nintendo. The Pokemon Company merely manages Pokemon the brand autonomously which is jointly owned by Game Freak, Creatures and Nintendo.

                This is where it gets really complicated because a lot of the details are unknown. Nintendo also owns like 10% (IIRC) of Creatures - which is a subsidiary of Nintendo. So 1/3 of the Pokemon Company and owner of Pokemon (which is likely less than 1/3) is a Nintendo subsidiary which makes Nintendo’s stake more than 1/3. Nintendo also has an existing deal with Game Freak that nobody knows the real details on. So while Nintendo on the outside only owns 33% of the Pokemon company, the actually own way more of the brand, probably more than the other 2 companies named combined.

                But yeah, it’s super complicated.

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      September 6, 2017 3:34 PM


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        September 6, 2017 3:56 PM

        I think a camera is the only important thing that's missing from the Switch, not for video calling or whatever but for AR.

        AR is going to get huge in the next year thanks to the iPhone. The Switch would do well to ride that wave but its not going to happen. Its too bad because the 3DS had AR (with 3D!) years ago

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          September 6, 2017 4:00 PM


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          September 6, 2017 5:33 PM

          A microphone port and blue tooth would be nice. The wifi signal is very weak compared to my other devices and damn if the Nintendo network itself isn't just embarrassing. It takes me hours to download anything on my gigabit connection.

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            September 7, 2017 4:29 AM

            The wifi really kills me sometimes. Some rooms in the house make the connection unplayablely fickle for things like Splatoon and ARMS.

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          September 7, 2017 4:38 AM

          I would not at all be surprised if we saw a Super Switch (hopefully not New Switch) with a camera, bluetooth, and maybe a 4 pole 3.5 jack (if not a built in mic like the DS/3DS) and hopefully better battery life in 2 years or less, but then again it is Nintendo and they go their own way.

          I found the lack of camera initially pretty surprising, but after some thought maybe not so much in the context of their discontinuation of stuff like streetpass and miiverse and general strain they had on getting just the hardware they did have together.

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            September 7, 2017 7:58 AM

            Remember when the gameboy color had a camera...and a printer!

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            September 7, 2017 8:08 AM

            I fully expect a beefed up Switch in a couple of years. It's both a hand held and a console, and they like to increase the potency of their handhelds quite often.

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          September 7, 2017 8:27 AM

          Nah keep that on the 3ds and on their phone games. It drives cost up for nothing and the switch isn't meant to be carried around for AR gaming Ala Pokémon. The microphone and camera or 3d stuff also just fucks with their games because Nintendo always decided to implement the goddamn gimmick somehow and I really don't want to deal with 3d riddles, blowing/screaming into a mic or swing around their gyro controls as it is.

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