The world was baffled by Nintendo’s recent announcement that the NX will be released in March 2017 — not during Christmas, not during anywhere near Christmas or even anywhere near Kwanzaa. Instead the machine will make its debut at a point when many wallets will still be in recharging mode.
It was pointed out that this strategy contradicts what Old Ruthless Yamauchi would have done — he once said in regards to the Gamecube, “It is absolutely imperative that we do not miss the year-end sales season.” Is it no longer imperative?
Nintendo’s current president, Tatsumi Kimishima, spoke to investors and revealed it’s all about the games. “When launching hardware, ‘How much software can customers play?’ is important. Launch timing must be based on that.” In the past Nintendo has been burned by a lack of software within the first year of release. The N64 and Gamecube were especially dry in their inaugural years.
“Customers having more money to spend during the holiday season is one big factor in starting then,” Kimishima admitted. “But our integrated hardware/software business doesn’t end that year, but is something that can continue to be played for several years so we think that “releasing something proper” is the most important thing. By that, we don’t think ‘holiday season timing is a must’ but rather that we should launch when we can provide something proper. That point has not changed.”
The big question is, will holding the big launch in March prevent the console from making as much of an impression nine months later? Launches get attention, much of it free from the media. Come the holidays, any publicity Nintendo wants for the NX will have to come out of their own advertising budget. From that standpoint, this isn’t a good strategy, but I get the sense Nintendo feels their only other option would be to delay their next console until Holiday 2017, leaving them stuck with Wii U for eighteen entire months. Investors would REALLY be displeased to hear that.