Nintendo’s Frustrating Indifference To 4K Ultra HD Continues
Stephan Jukic – January 18, 2018
Nintendo doesn’t quite have the consumer gaming market clout it wielded back in the 1990s (how many of us in our 30s remember those years with childhood nostalgia) but the company could at least make an effort to stay as current as rivals like Sony and Microsoft in this sphere. However, based on the latest words from Nintendo executives, this isn’t going to be the case quite yet.
In a recent interview with French media (translated partly here by the site NintendoLife), the Managing Director of Nintendo, France Philippe Lavoue, affirmed the company’s stance on 4K ultra HD gaming and VR by explaining that for both virtual reality and 4K support, Nintendo doesn’t see enough of a market at this point in time to make pursuing either technology worthwhile.
The Nintendo executive further elaborated that he and Nintendo don’t believe VR capable of appealing to the mainstream of consumer gamers and that 4K technology is embraced by too much of a user minority to be worth pursuing. Additionally, according to Lavoue, there are doubts about how much of a “novelty” Nintendo could bring to 4K gaming support in the larger race for mastery of the graphics technology among the company’s main competitors.
He then affirmed this sentiment by pointing out that Nintendo is a smaller company than Sony or Microsoft and likely couldn’t directly compete with either giant in the 4K gaming sphere or for potential VR developments.
The key and most interesting parts of the Nintendo executive’s comments are the following:
“If you look at VR headsets, I doubt they can appeal to the mainstream. Consumers are not patient with entertainment if you’re not able to deliver an all-inclusive package.
As far as 4K is concerned, is it useful to invest in a technology that has not been adopted by the majority? Where are 4K TVs now? Is it a good idea to invest in a technology before consumers do? We can’t invest in everything. And what novelty would we bring compared to our competitors?”
In other words, the company’s general attitude at this time is looking remarkably defeatist all around, not to mention its general lack of creativity in dealing with a new technological frontier that will without a doubt grow into major mainstream acceptance sooner or later despite whatever speed bumps it faces along the way.
Nonetheless, according to Lavoue (and presumably Nintendo itself as part of its official policy), the company will focus on creating gadgets and platforms that are “different” from 4K gaming platforms, but which do fulfill a certain important niche among consumer gamers that Microsoft’s Xbox consoles and Sony’s PS4 Pro can’t reach into. Here Lavoue is referring to Nintendo’s switch console. Specifically, the Nintendo executive explained that, “With the Switch, we offer different uses, adapted to players’ pace of life. Its advantage is being able to fit into your daily life.”.
This is fine, and to the Switch’s credit, the device is the best-selling home gaming console on the Japanese market, so at least in this one particular important country, the company’s strategy is paying off. However, if we zoom out to the worldwide picture, it’s obvious that Sony and Microsoft pull in much more attention and broad consumer interest with their more robust devices.
In essence, Nintendo’s core philosophy on these issues is that which is best summarized from one comment in particular by the company executive’s words. Specifically:
“Is it a good idea to invest in a technology before consumers do?”
The answer seems to be an obvious Yes! A technology won’t even exist unless someone can create and present it for consumer experimentation in the first place. Microsoft, Sony and others definitely show that they understand this, and it makes sense from a logical point of view. Technology doesn’t appear magically as an “all-inclusive” package. Instead it has to pass though the process of being an incomplete work-in-progress which nonetheless shows consumers what’s possible for the near future, and thus builds their interest (and demand) by doing this.
4K TVs themselves are a perfect example of this and despite their incremental development and faults along the way, they are without a shadow of a doubt becoming the dominant new home theater technology worldwide, slated to replace HDTV within a year or two as the standard in quality displays. Again, this is happening despite the fact that 4K TVs themselves became fully fleshed out only in increments and pieces. The same could apply to gaming and is actually showing signs of doing so already with the growing popularity of ultra HD consoles, PCs and 4K or 4K enhanced games themselves.
That Nintendo could skip out on the above obvious trends in its resistance to 4K for gaming (and VR to a lesser extent) is rather surprising to say the least.