The Nintendo Switch
Nintendo released the name and a video image of its yet-to-be launched video game product.
To be called Switch, and launched next March, the product is aimed at breaking the boundary between portable and console games. It had previously been known by the code name NX.
Users will be able to play Switch by connecting it to a TV, or using it as a portable gadget, like the Nintendo DS or Game Boy.
Nintendo shares dropped 6.6 percent on Friday after apparently failing to impress investors.
Although details have yet to be announced, the three-minute video uploaded on Nintendo’s corporate website at 11 p.m. Thursday shows an actor playing the gaming system at home via TV, and converting it into a portable device using a controller called the Joy-Con.
When played without a TV screen, a user needs to attach two small controller pieces — Joy-Con (R) and Joy-Con (L) — on both sides of a hand-sized monitor.
The PR video also shows him playing the device inside an airplane and in other locations.
The product can be played by two people simultaneously.
When playing on a TV screen, users slot the main device into a dock.
The video also shows the actor playing the latest edition of “The Legend of Zelda,” a software series.
The product’s success will hinge on how many and what kind of software can be lined up. In an article published in September, tech website Gizmodo claimed “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” will be released on the same day as the Switch’s itself, and that a new addition to the Pokemon series will be released sometime next year.
Further details, including the product’s price, have yet to be announced.
The video focused squarely on millennials, young adults in their late 20s and early 30s. This suggests a departure from Nintendo’s mission of making games for the whole family.
The difference is particularly clear when compared with a video introducing the Wii more than a decade ago, which featured grandparents playing along with kids. The company is trying to carve out a niche between casual smartphone gamers and more serious players who use consoles such as Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4, according to Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad.
“They’ve certainly found their place in the market and this is the most logical thing for Nintendo to do,” said Ahmad, who covers the game industry.
Switch’s portable feature puts it at odds with Nintendo’s recent embrace of smartphones.
After years of ignoring pleas from fans and investors to bring its games to mobile phones, the company is planning to release “Super Mario Run” for Apple Inc. devices in December. The release follows this summer’s wildly successful “Pokemon Go,” which was developed by San Francisco-based Niantic Inc. with Nintendo’s help.
Investors have cheered the shift to mobile, sending Nintendo shares in Tokyo trading up more than 60 percent this year through Thursday’s close. Nintendo is also planning to release mobile titles for its “Animal Crossing” and “Fire Emblem” franchises by March.
The company is betting the hybrid approach will help Switch become a hit like Wii, its most successful console ever thanks to its motion-tracking controllers.
Ahmad said that while Switch will end up competing with smartphones, it also offers features that make it superior.
Not only will controllers provide a better gaming interface than a smartphone touchscreen, but having two of them should allow gamers on the go to get started with much less hassle.
“On mobile, to get other players to play with you you’d typically need two separate smartphones,” said Ahmad. “This is a lot more inclusive and this is a good move from Nintendo.”