“It’s not a surprise,” Fils-Aimé said. “And, candidly, knowing that it was going to be successful is what helped make my retirement decision easy, because I knew the company was going to be in great shape for at least a few years.”
— Danny Peña (@godfree) February 15, 2021
Nintendo recently revealed that the Switch had surpassed the lifetime sales of its 3DS handheld device, with 79.87m units sold worldwide. Discussing why he thought the Nintendo Switch was so popular among gamers, Fils-Aimé explained that the hybrid system “met a fundamental consumer desire” that games companies had been trying to crack for years.
“The system was solving for a key player complaint,” Fils-Aimé said. “And that complaint is, ‘I’m having fun, I’m playing my game, and now I need to stop because I got to go to work or school, and I can’t take my game with me. I can’t continue playing that game.’ So Switch, with the opportunity to play on that big screen TV, then take it out of the dock and go play in handheld mode, it met a fundamental consumer desire. That was the triggering moment.”Elaborating on why he thought the Nintendo Switch would be such a special console, Fils-Aimé described the moment that he was presented with a prototype by the late Iwata-san, and likened the experience to two other Nintendo projects that made him feel excited for the future of the company.
“The first time I saw the Nintendo DS, the hair on the back of my neck stood up,” he said. “The team was demoing an early, early prototype of what would become Nintendogs. Immediately I saw the potential. The first time I picked up a Wii Remote and played a rudimentary experience that would become Wii Sports, I knew it was gonna be magical. The day that I sat with Mr. Iwata and held a prototype Switch and we talked about the concept, I knew it was going to be magical.”
Fils-Aimé retired as president of Nintendo of America in 2019, and left behind a transformative legacy for the company. We spoke to him ahead of him receiving the New York Game Awards’ Andrew Yoon Legend Award about a career of making people smile.
In other Nintendo news, a new 50-minute Direct presentation has been announced for February 17, which will focus on upcoming and already released titles.
Tom Power is a UK-based freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter.
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