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If You’re Excited for the Nintendo Switch, Thank Satoru Iwata

The deceased Nintendo executive put a lot of thought into the Switch.

The world may have lost former Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata when he tragically passed away at just 55 years old in 2015, but his legacy lives on. Nintendo is preparing to launch its next console, the Nintendo Switch, in just over two weeks, and, according to Shigeru Miyamoto, Iwata was responsible for leading direction on the Switch.

“I mentioned that Mr. Iwata, [Technology Fellow Genyo Takeda] and myself provided feedback and made decisions, but ultimately Mr. Iwata was the head of development, so he put a lot of thought and time into Switch,” Miyamoto told Time in a recent interview. I think that the idea of Nintendo Switch being a device you can take out and anywhere, and the idea of it being a system that really allows networking and communicating with people, I think that’s something Mr. Iwata put a lot of emphasis on.


“Because Mr. Iwata was tech-savvy, a lot of our discussion involved trying to figure out how to make the technical things like network capabilities or servers or whatever fun. For example, think about when we added the ability to use a browser on the DS. As time goes on, all of these services become more and more advanced, and so we need to think about ‘How do we incorporate mobile devices or new browser features that come up?’ That’s something Mr. Iwata and I discussed a lot, really trying to decide what to do and what not to do in our hardware.”

Back in March 2015, Iwata told Nikkei that If you only expand upon existing hardware, it’s dull. In some shape or form, we’re always thinking about how we want to surprise players as well as our desire to change each person’s video gaming life.”

It’s possible Iwata adopted this philosophy from his predecessor, longtime Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi. In his interview with Time, Miyamoto recounted that Yamauchi passed down a belief that Nintendo “should only use money to create fun. What this means is that what we as business owners look forward to is not increasing our company, but expanding our work.”

Continuing, Miyamoto indicated that he’s also of a like mind to Yamauchi and Iwata in this regard. “If you want to be in second place or third place, you can do what other people are doing,” the designer said. “I mean, you’ll have to put a lot of effort and work into it. If you’re doing something on your own, something unique, when the spotlight hits, you’re already at the top before you know it. So that’s why I feel like, in the world of fun, there’s only number one. And that’s why I think you’ve got to take risks to become number one. If you want to be number one by doing the same thing as other people, you’ve got to be kind of tough.”

Nintendo will take its next stab at becoming number one in the industry when the Nintendo Switch launches on March 3 for $299.

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