Nintendo of America's Doug Bowser talks Joy-Con drift, Switch Pro rumors, more

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Polygon said:
Looking back, when did you realize COVID was going to be a big change for basically everyone in the gaming industry, but also, was going to specifically affect what Nintendo’s strategies were for 2020?
Doug Bowser said:
I would say, during the March time frame, during February, early March, we were closely monitoring the situation. We were in very close contact with state and local governments in the areas where we have our offices and facilities. So that would be Washington state, California, New York state. And then, of course, in Canada, both in Toronto and [British Columbia]. And we were very closely watching the situation and how it was unfolding, and tried to really be sensitive to the changes in various orders around work-from-home or quarantines, etc.


And we began probably in early March, as a leadership team, really shaping out, if this ever got to a pandemic situation, how would we manage the business? Because a part of our business, for us, can can be effectively done working from home or working remotely. But we also have a manufacturing and distribution facility here. And we had to be sensitive to that — if various distancing regulations came into place and other safety regulations came into place, we had to really understand how we were going to be able to operate that business effectively and continue to distribute our products to our retailers, and ultimately, our consumers. So really, it was that March time frame that we start to spool up.


And, you know, I’m lucky we engaged in that manner. We’ve always had business continuity plans in place, but they didn’t necessarily include a pandemic. I’m not sure many companies have a pandemic plan structured.
Polygon said:
I wanted to specifically talk about a strategy that Nintendo is doing with Switch Online, regarding the sunsetting I don’t know what the exact terminology is, but effectively, games that are no longer available after March 31, 2021. What is the logic? Why is that good for consumers?
Doug Bowser said:
Yeah, I think I use a simple word: celebration. It just — this is a celebration of Mario’s 35th anniversary. And we wanted to celebrate in unique and different ways, and we’ve done that through games like Super Mario 3D All-Stars, or we will be doing that through future releases, such as Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury.


And then we’ve also done it through releases such as Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., or through Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. There are various ways that we’re celebrating Mario’s 35th. And with some of these titles, we felt it was an opportunity to release them for a limited period of time. They’ve done very, very well. Super Mario 3D All-Stars has sold over 2.6 million units in the U.S. alone. And so clearly, consumers have been able to jump in and enjoy that. And it’s not strategy that we’re going to be using widely, but it’s one we thought was very unique for the actual anniversary.
Polygon said:
Yeah, and the celebration aspect I totally get. Obviously, you have gone whole hog on releasing amazing Mario games this year. I just don’t understand the consumer side of it, where someone who buys a Switch in June of next year is just never gonna be able to buy those games. I just don’t see the upside, quite honestly.
Doug Bowser said:
Yeah, at this point, the decision was really made around that celebration feature and aspect. I can’t speak to plans beyond the the end of March.

 
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