Nintendo Switch may not have the right appeal, EA CFO says

EA is working on a game for the console from an existing franchise.

35

Nintendo's console-handheld hybrid Switch is scheduled for a March release, which means publishers are already working on games for the platform. And while EA has a game in the pipeline, a company exec isn't sure about the Switch's viability.

“We’re excited for Nintendo, it’s an interesting device,” EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said at the UBS Global Technology Conference (via Gamasutra). “But I can’t yet predict how broad it’s going to be, and [if people will] be interested in a portable device alongside their regular portable device that they have.” 

The game EA is working on is from one of it's larger franchises and not a new IP, Jorgensen said. “In terms of Nintendo, in their announcement they announced that we’ll be supporting with a game or two on that new platform. We haven’t yet announced what game, but you should assume that it’s one of our bigger games we’ve been involved with.”

If EA is indeed unsure of the platform, then using one of their established high-profile franchises as a testbed makes sense. A strong showing would prove viability, and possible continues support and development. 

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 15, 2016 11:29 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Nintendo Switch may not have the right appeal, EA CFO says

    • reply
      November 15, 2016 11:52 AM

      Makes total sense to me. Recall what happened with their Wii U support over time. They went from highly optimistic ( https://www.yahoo.com/news/ea-blown-away-wii-u-launch-games-153742930.html ) before it launched ( offering 3 games at launch ) to total abandonment six months after it launched ( http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/16/4338346/ea-says-no-wii-u-games-in-development ).

      • reply
        November 15, 2016 11:54 AM

        I'm not sure why a big studio would waste their time porting anything to the Switch unless the install base was absolutely massive and it doesn't sound like that will be the case anytime soon.

        • reply
          November 15, 2016 12:07 PM

          If it's cheap, like the $250 rumor suggests, I can see vigorous sales withe multiple units in a home. It might also draw in new people. So maybe.

        • reply
          November 15, 2016 12:25 PM

          Why support any system at launch then?

          • reply
            November 15, 2016 12:28 PM

            Nintendo has a pretty poor track record with 3rd party game sales, unlike Sony and Microsoft. I would be wary about pouring a bunch of money into making an inferior port that isn't likely to sell well, maybe if the Nintendo install base was big enough it would be worth trying, but not until then.

          • reply
            November 15, 2016 3:54 PM

            many smaller studios don't. The EAs and Activisons of the world know they have a multi year porting process to perform for their major franchises and things like an iterative Xbox or Playstation are safe bets to make. So they'll happily begin the process of porting/upgrading Madden and CoD and sell what they have in year 1 (often a stripped down version of the N-1 generation but with better graphics).

        • reply
          November 15, 2016 12:25 PM

          if the use case is different enough that the customer will buy your game (again) for that device, and the #s are worth it, you'll do it. I.e. Why create a PS4 and a 3DS version of Fifa? Because they are different usage scenarios and perhaps you can sell 2 copies of FIFA.

          (Using FIFA as an EA example, not even sure if they have a 3DS version if it)

    • reply
      November 15, 2016 12:04 PM

      EA's statement confirms that Nintendo needs to get its messaging straightened out ASAP, well before the big Switch reveal in January. Nintendo has said it considers the Switch more of a home console that happens to be portable, rather than a portable that happens to be able to connect to TVs; the EA executive is wondering why consumers would want another portable.

      It might seem a simple case of semantics or a chicken-and-egg scenario, but it is important. Marketing makes or breaks products. It broke Wii U. It could break Switch unless Nintendo sends the right message.

      • reply
        November 15, 2016 12:13 PM

        The message send was no Zelda at launch. This has made me flaccid. You would think they would get it after all these years, but apparently not. They are a power house when it comes to software. They need the hardware to line up with a solid software launch. Zelda, Mario & pick your favor third out of the gate for a launch and that will move hardware units. Once the hardware units are moving then the 3rd parties will jump on board.

        • Zek legacy 10 years
          reply
          November 15, 2016 12:19 PM

          Nobody releases multiple huge first party franchises at once with a new console. Literally no one. Sony and MS usually don't even have a single must-have game with their launches. If Nintendo has a new Mario game that's already a great launch.

          • reply
            November 15, 2016 12:32 PM

            Sony and MS have solid 3rd party support though before the consoles are moving. Nintendo has not had that luxury for a while. They are the ones that have to move the hardware, and if not enough moves then the 3rd party largely pulls out.

            I love the concept of tablet "around the house gaming," and will pick one of these up, but IMO Nintendo is still chasing the Golden Egg, if not fluke, known as the Wii.

          • reply
            November 15, 2016 12:34 PM

            PS4 launched with CoD: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Assassin's Creed Black Flag

            If Switch launches with only one game worth playing, I'm not buying at launch.

            • Zek legacy 10 years
              reply
              November 15, 2016 12:40 PM

              All of those are cross-generation games. It takes quite a while for solid exclusives to come out, even when you include third parties.

              • reply
                November 15, 2016 1:17 PM

                and that's why it's so important to cater to 3rd parties who can help fill out your lineup with iterative upgrades that people are interested in in the meantime

                • reply
                  November 15, 2016 2:34 PM

                  I don't get why he's arguing your statement. The xbone and PS4 sold well regardless of his opinion of games and Nintendo just hasn't given the 3rd party sales it needs to have them justify porting over to it.

              • reply
                November 15, 2016 1:34 PM

                Hey, explain that to the people who won't buy Switch at launch because there's no games to play on it.

                • Zek legacy 10 years
                  reply
                  November 15, 2016 1:48 PM

                  I didn't buy a PS4 or XB1 at launch because there were zero interesting games. I will buy a Switch at launch because it has at least one.

                  • reply
                    November 15, 2016 2:07 PM

                    Let's hope (for Nintendo's sake) that other people feel the same. About Switch I mean. They didn't feel the same about PS4/XB1 launch games because those did pretty good on those consoles.

            • reply
              November 15, 2016 1:34 PM

              Those aren't exclusives

              • reply
                November 15, 2016 1:35 PM

                Didn't realize we were talking about exclusives (having trouble finding mention of exclusives in the comment thread), thought we were talking about launch titles.

                • reply
                  November 15, 2016 1:48 PM

                  Zek
                  Nobody releases multiple huge first party franchises at once with a new console.

                  First party = exclusive

      • Zek legacy 10 years
        reply
        November 15, 2016 12:18 PM

        I don't think there's really any confusion. The games being made for it are home console games. It also can be played portably. Whether you play it mainly on the TV or mainly portably is the choice of the consumer, that's the message.

      • reply
        November 15, 2016 12:53 PM

        The screen and price broke the wiiu.

        • reply
          November 15, 2016 1:28 PM

          Didn't the WiiU launch at like $350?

          • reply
            November 15, 2016 1:29 PM

            $300 and $350 options. 3DS was $250.

            • reply
              November 15, 2016 1:30 PM

              Right so how was that a problem?

              • reply
                November 15, 2016 1:36 PM

                the price does not exist in a vacuum. $300 for one console may be a great deal, for another it's a terrible deal. Clearly the value proposition of those two devices did not match what consumers wanted at those price levels.

      • reply
        November 15, 2016 1:16 PM

        Everything from the name to the launch trailer to the design choices internally (ARM, Tegra) and externally (portable sized screen and battery life) show a serious commitment to it actually being a portable system at least as much as a home console. I don't think there's any marketing problem here. If it doesn't sell it's because they have a product problem: a device that does 2 very different things that not everyone wants and compromises on both sides of the equation in order to do it.

        • Zek legacy 10 years
          reply
          November 15, 2016 1:33 PM

          I think the primary use case for the portability is playing it around the house - easy access to a charger, size isn't a major issue. It's a bit too large and battery-restricted to be a true handheld. But I think Nintendo is ceding the "away from home" portable market to mobile games, as they probably should.

          • reply
            November 15, 2016 1:37 PM

            their launch/teaser trailer hardly suggested that outside the house portability was a niche scenario

            • Zek legacy 10 years
              reply
              November 15, 2016 3:55 PM

              Well of course the reveal trailer wants to show you everything it can do and imply that it does it all equally well. But that's not necessarily an indicator of what use cases Nintendo envisions as being their specialty. There is a pretty fundamental trade-off between having enough power to run on a TV and having a good portable form factor and battery life.

              • reply
                November 15, 2016 4:00 PM

                There is a pretty fundamental trade-off between having enough power to run on a TV and having a good portable form factor and battery life.

                Yes, and Nintendo made their choice and showed it. If you're not interested in a portable then you're making a lot of compromises in your new Nintendo home console purchase.

        • reply
          November 15, 2016 1:58 PM

          How easy will it be port x86 games over to ARM? Seems like it would have been smart for them to stick with the same architecture as Sony/MS if they really wanted this to be a contender in the home console space.

          • reply
            November 15, 2016 3:01 PM

            [deleted]

            • reply
              November 15, 2016 3:58 PM

              I imagine there are tons of 3rd party libraries and whatnot that don't work with ARM

              • reply
                November 15, 2016 4:04 PM

                Except, you know, every game library and engine that suppors iOS and Android.

                • reply
                  November 15, 2016 4:05 PM

                  Sorry, that was snarky.

                • reply
                  November 15, 2016 4:32 PM

                  Yea, no doubt there are a lot of good ARM compatible libraries out there, but the next CoD or Battlefield game will be built using the same traditional x86 stuff they've been using forever. Having to port all of that over to support the next Nintendo would probably be pretty time consuming and expensive.

                  • reply
                    November 15, 2016 9:20 PM

                    No, they'll be built using engines that actively support ARM, just like they are now.

          • reply
            November 16, 2016 2:58 AM

            I'd think the GPU differences would be harder: xb1, ps4, ps4pro are all rather similar, tegra will be substantially different. You'll need to completely redesign the output stage of the renderer.

        • reply
          November 15, 2016 2:09 PM

          are you on board with the switch tho

        • reply
          November 15, 2016 2:29 PM

          The compromise is aimed just as much to the developer as the consumer. Instead of making the choice between developing for 3DS or Wii U, Nintendo will be putting all their resources into one device. So more games at a high quality will be landing every year.

          • reply
            November 15, 2016 2:35 PM

            How many AAA studios are working on 3DS games?

            (not a sarcastic question, I don't have a 3DS and don't know what games are popular)

            • reply
              November 15, 2016 2:43 PM

              Don't know, I've only purchased Nintendo games and indie games. Capcom has put out quite a few games though. The first Resident Evil Revelations launched on 3DS before it was ported everywhere else. Square has also put out a few games.

            • reply
              November 15, 2016 5:29 PM

              You have a ton more Japanese studios working on mobile.

          • reply
            November 15, 2016 3:06 PM

            the developer or Nintendo's developers? What third party dev is clamoring for this unification? They target whatever platform sells well. The need to make a "special" 3DS version from the Xbox version didn't impact their plans. Both were big enough platforms to justify the investment of separate versions, and the platforms are unique enough in design/scenarios that they warrant special versions. The Wii U was not.

            From a development perspective the unification is Nintendo's attempt to hedge for the circumstance where they again fail to get 3rd party support. This increases their ability to fill out the lineup themselves.

      • reply
        November 15, 2016 2:28 PM

        This just isn't going to happen. Nintendo won't say a word to disrupt holiday sales of Wii U and the new 3DS. That's for certain. It's too bad that the production news came out, but that won't reach the masses that might want to grab a Wii U bundle.

        But, I do agree, and I've already said this previously, that it's going to be critical for Nintendo to nail the marketing on this. That teaser video didn't do it. In fact, it really shows how much work Nintendo has to do to get the message right.

        I think I'm open to this idea of the platform. I could see messing with it in portable model while the kids are playing or watching tv. Then I can dock in when they want to watch me play, or play with me if possible, or dock at night when they're in bed and play on the big screen. That kind of functionality is somewhat appealing to me. But, as always, it's the games that'll make or break the system.

    • reply
      November 15, 2016 6:39 PM

      I was really hoping for a new nVidia Shield :(

      • reply
        November 15, 2016 6:45 PM

        i mean this is basically it and it'll have better software!

    • reply
      November 15, 2016 6:53 PM

      I don't know if I'm in the minority or what, but the Switch does absolutely nothing for me. My days of mobile gaming I guess are behind me, I rarely even play anything on my phone. I guess I can see the appeal if you're commuting via mass transit a lot or even flying a lot, but not as a regular every day console. Hell I got two of those and I rarely turn them on. :(

      • reply
        November 15, 2016 9:17 PM

        If you don't ever pull out the tablet it will function like a standard console, it just won't have cutting edge horsepower. But it's a Nintendo console, so that's about what people were expecting anyway.

        • reply
          November 15, 2016 9:32 PM

          but like the Wii U you'll be asked to pay like $300-350 for something you value at $200-250 (or worse be asked to pay for compromises you're fundamentally unwilling to pay for). People weren't thrilled about paying $100 for a Kinect they wouldn't use either.

      • reply
        November 16, 2016 2:48 AM

        It's right up my street. I travel a lot for work and tablet gaming sucks - the screen is good, but the controls are horrible. This'll solve that, plus Nintendo games.

      • reply
        November 16, 2016 3:09 AM

        Think of it like this.
        Japanese people play handhelds, Western people play ps4.

        This lets them theoretically cater to both audiences.
        The dual functionality and 'switching' doesn't hugely appeal to anyone specifically.

      • reply
        November 16, 2016 5:01 AM

        I also don't like mobile gaming, but in my case I like the games. Being able to play those games on a TV with a decent controller sounds really cool.

      • reply
        November 16, 2016 5:10 AM

        You're not alone. I've got no interest in a middling tablet with HDMI out, better controls or not.

        I'm really surprised that Nintendo is going after yet another iteration of gimmick hardware. Like everyone else, I would like to see them focus on software, and maybe purpose-built portable devices.

      • reply
        November 16, 2016 5:21 AM

        Yea I would never be bringing this thing out of the house. No interest. I have my phone for mobile stuff and this thing is like carrying around a tablet, not really sure who would do that. At least the 3DS is portable like a phone.

    • reply
      November 16, 2016 5:19 AM

      No Zelda at launch is really going to hurt initial sales. I want to sell my WiiU for this but I'm probably only going to want Zelda and that is already coming to WiiU.

    • reply
      November 16, 2016 5:25 AM

      To quote battlestar galactica "All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again"

Hello, Meet Lola