Creating software that benefits hardware and vice versa
Nintendo has published the official English translation of the for Q2 FY2024, and it wraps up with a particularly interesting comment on the company's recently-changed approach to hardware and software development.
Asked about whether Nintendo has shifted to using software as a means of bringing about new styles of gameplay (rather than hardware), Director and Senior Managing Executive Officer Shinya Takahashi stated that the company has recently started to see the software and hardware development teams holding conversations as "a single unit" from the "early stages of hardware development". Hmmm.
This, Takahashi says, is allowing Nintendo to create software that takes advantage of the hardware's features, while developing hardware that inspires new software ideas â now that's synergy:
The integrated hardware-software concept hasn't changed, but it used to be that software development often did not begin until after the hardware development had been completed. Recently, the hardware and software development teams have been holding discussions as a single unit, starting in the early stages of hardware development. This allows us to create software that takes advantage of hardware characteristics and develop hardware that enable new ideas in software. The hardware and software teams will continue to work as one, not just for the development of our dedicated video game platform hardware and software, but also for accessories and other hardware products, in order to create products that consumers enjoy
Nintendo's hardware and software teams have always been pally, of course. Super Mario 64, for example, was designed around the precise 3D movement made possible by the N64's analogue stick, so it's not like these departments have been operating totally separately until now.
Nonetheless, reading something like this immediately sets the alarm bells a-ringing for the potential of the 'Switch 2' or whatever other hardware Nintendo is cooking up â are we looking at official confirmation (and perhaps we're reading too much into the words "recently" and "early stages of hardware development") that there is something else in the works here? Maybe.
Then again, it's just as possible that Takahashi is referencing better 'under-the-hood' optimisation through this increased inter-team communication, rather than, "We thought up a game where you have to blow bubbles and now Switch 2 has a pop-out bubble blower in the left Joy-Con." It's Nintendo, and the "we'll have to wait and see" mantra is ringing just as clearly today as it always has been.
What this means for the future of Nintendo remains to be seen (the full Q&A has a lot to say about the company's future endeavours in other parts of the entertainment world), but it does look like whatever console comes next, it will have some feature-rich games right from the jump. Fingers crossed for StreetPass game integration, then.