In some ways, the Nintendo Switch can already provide one of the biggest benefits of cloud gaming: the ability to sling a game from a big TV to a portable device and carry it anywhere you go. But Nintendo isn’t pretending that capability is enough to weather what could be a sea change in how games are developed, played and sold.
When Nintendo executives were asked at this year’s annual meeting of shareholders what they thought of cloud gaming — the idea that video games can be streamed from remote internet servers rather than run on a local console — they admitted they not only believe the technology will be part of the future, but that Nintendo “must keep up” as well.
Here’s the whole quote from Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa, as translated by his own company:
While we don’t expect all games to become cloud games any time soon, the technologies are definitely advancing. We see a future where cloud and streaming technologies will develop more and more as a means of delivering games to consumers. We must keep up with such changes in the environment. That being said, if these changes increase the worldwide gaming population, that will just give us more opportunities with our integrated hardware and software development approach to reach people worldwide with the unique entertainment that Nintendo can provide.
Nintendo director Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong) agreed that “cloud gaming will become more widespread in the future,” but added that he doesn’t believe the tech will necessarily replace consoles like the Switch.
“I have no doubt that there will continue to be games that are fun because they are running locally and not on the cloud,” he said. “We believe it is important to continue to use these diverse technical environments to make unique entertainment that could only have been made by Nintendo.”
While Nintendo doesn’t have a cloud gaming service of its own like Google, Sony and Microsoft, it’s been quietly experimenting with the idea in Japan through partners. We spent some quality time with streaming games on the Switch earlier this year, in fact.
Nintendo’s president also took a question about subscription services — the other huge topic at this year’s E3 gaming show — and wound up suggesting that we may see more of them in the years to come. “Nintendo’s policy is that we will consider whether each product we offer is suited to a subscription model as we expand our business in the future,” he said.
By Sean Hollister