The Wii became one of Nintendo's biggest success stories thanks in part due to the casual market that Nintendo courted with appealing lifestyle software. While it created a small backlash from the so-called "hardcore" gamers, there's no denying the Wii dominated the industry thanks to the key casual demographic. And Nintendo could revisit that demo if it means selling more Nintendo Switch consoles.
While it's tempting to judge each new Nintendo console cycle on how hardcore or casual it is, that binary thinking is wrong. Nintendo sees itself first and foremost as an entertainment company, and the health of the company depends on the consistent popularity of Nintendo hardware and IP. Nintendo revealed as much in its latest quarterly financial briefing for investors.
When asked by an investor about Nintendo's projected goal of selling 20 million Switch consoles for the fiscal year, outgoing Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima explained that while the projected goal will be difficult to achieve, it is doable for the company.
"We set a sales target for the Nintendo Switch hardware of 20 million units during this fiscal year because it is essential that we exceed the 15.05 million units sold last fiscal year."
Part of what helped the Nintendo Switch sell well its first year was the strong software library comprised mostly of first-party and core games. But to expand the Switch market in its second year Nintendo hinted that it will court non-traditional gamers once again.
"[T]he software lineup we have planned [for the fiscal year] is meant to attract people including those who have not been playing video games recently," revealed Kimishima.
Will this mean more apps like the Wii Fit? Not necessarily. As the incoming Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa explains, "The one thing we must never forget when running Nintendo is that we are a company that makes entertainment products and playthings, not necessities." Because of this, Nintendo "is a business where our mere existence could be quickly forgotten if consumers stopped considering our products to be fun and interesting."
While the motion controls could be seen as the fun and interesting mechanics that helped guide the Wii, the Switch is a different system altogether. Fun and interesting applications that aren't geared towards core gamers will most likely look different for the Switch—The Nintendo Labo is a good example of that.
Even beyond that, Nintendo's inroads to non-core gamers can take surprising shapes and forms. Nintendo is actively expanding its IP-license business with new theme parks and movies. Meanwhile, mobile is becoming an even more important business for Nintendo going forward. And while Nintendo's mobile games aren't hardcore per se, they are fun and engaging.
No matter how you cut it, Nintendo's goal is to get the Switch into the hands of as many consumers as possible who might be attracted to the fun and interesting experiences only Nintendo can offer. As Furukawa says, "No matter how the era or the environment changes, the essence of our business will not change."