Interview with Nintendo of Canada’s Andrew Collins
At Nintendo’s recent media holiday preview event I had the opportunity to interview Andrew Collins, Nintendo of Canada’s Communications Manager. During this one-one-one interview we discussed Nintendo Switch, its games, and their future plans. Read on to learn more about Nintendo’s fastest-selling console in history!
Paul Hunter: Hi Andrew, great to see you again. The last time we met in Toronto was at the launch event for Nintendo Switch. There’s obviously been a lot that has happened since, it’s been a good year for Nintendo. What’s the sentiment right now over at Nintendo?
Andrew Collins: Everyone is overjoyed, you know. We’ve very confident with Nintendo Switch, we knew it was a good system, but to see the love that people has got for it is really fantastic. As you’ve seen the numbers are great, we’ve dramatically increased production. We’ve got it in stock now, which is the biggest battle we’ve had all year.
For all us, it’s such a pleasure to be working on Nintendo Switch. A core principle for us, and you’ve heard me say this before, is putting smiles on people’s faces. You look around and see families with multiple kids and they’re all having fun.
PH: That’s what I love most about Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo in general, everyone can enjoy the games.
AC: Yeah, it’s wonderful. When Zelda: Breath of the Wild came out my son was only 4, but we found a way to play together. I have the Joy-Con that controls movement and he controls the sword. My progression in Zelda is 0% because he keeps on hitting the weapons against the trees. But he’s enjoying it, and that’s what matters most.
Nintendo’s Switch’s user interface
PH: I’ve really been enjoying using the Nintendo Switch and I’m particularly impressed with the user-interface. Compared to the slower Wii U interface it’s like night and day. How critical was it for Nintendo to get this aspect right?
AC: One of the things that Nintendo does constantly is looking at our products to see what worked, what didn’t work, and where we need to improve. We applied that knowledge significantly during the Nintendo Switch production. We looked at everything, just look at our third-party support. With third-parties we asked “how can we make Nintendo Switch easier for you to work with?” As you can see, we have a lot of third-party games from companies like Bethesda, Ubisoft, and EA.
Regarding the Wii U interface, that’s something that got a lot of criticism. So when we were working on the interface, one of the demands was “make it fast.” I think we’ve done a great job, it’s simple, there’s not too much stuff to take in. It’s all about getting the gamer to where they want to be as quickly as possible.
Nintendo Switch’s software
PH: Well, it certainly does a fantastic job at doing that. Looking at the software you’ve released this year on Switch, Zelda and Mario in particular, there seems to be a trend of breaking convention. Both are all about rewarding creativity and freedom of exploration. Is this going to be a core tenet of Nintendo development going forward?
AC: Well, I can’t speak for the developers but from my own experience it’s all about creating worlds for people to explore. Breath of the Wild had this incredible world where you could really get lost in there. You could dive in for half an hour, or four hours, or even 15 hours just to explore. For us it’s about creating games that gives gamers those tools to play how they want.
Even today, we have games like Super Mario Odyssey and people play them in dramatically different ways. You have those people who want to get as many Moons as they can, and those who want to quickly get through to the final level. Myself I’m kind of in a half way stage between those. One of my colleagues here, he does not finish a Kingdom until he’s certain he’s got all the Moons. 35 Moons later and he’s still at the Sand Kingdom. It’s been 16 years since there’s been a Mario game like this, so he doesn’t want to rush the experience. It’s like running through the Louvre. You don’t get to visit the Louvre everyday so why not take your time and enjoy all the pictures?
Nintendo Switch’s online service
PH: Let’s talk about the Nintendo Switch online service. We had soft roll-out this summer with Splatoon 2, and the full roll-out is coming in 2018. What should gamers expect with the online service?
AC: As you said, it’s coming in 2018. There will be a system where you can play some of the old classic games in a new updated version. That’s about all we’re saying at the moment but believe me we’ll have a lot more to talk about soon.
Nintendo Switch’s sales and fan feedback
PH: It seems like Canadians are really enjoying Nintendo Switch, sales thus far have been fantastic. What’s the feedback you’ve been hearing specifically from your Canadian fan base?
AC: Ecstatic. The sales figures have been massive as you’ve seen. Nintendo is the #1 game publisher in Canada this year. Nintendo Switch is the fast-selling console in Canada this year. We’ve got two of the top-selling games here. Zelda was the fastest-selling game this year until Mario Odyssey came out.
PH: Oh wow, so you’re breaking your own records.
AC: Yeah and it didn’t just nudge over Zelda, it destroyed it. As you know, most consoles in their lifetime only get two games of this nature. We’ve done it in the first nine months.
Nintendo 3DS and 2DS
PH: It reminds me of Ocarina of Time and Mario 64, both came out for Nintendo 64. But as you said, you’ve done this feat all in the console’s first year. Looking at your other console, the Nintendo 3DS, it seems to be maintaining the exact same momentum it had prior to the Switch’s launch. I would have thought Switch would cannibalize some of this market?
AC: The two are very distinct systems. We just released the new Nintendo 2DS console and it’s been really successful. The same goes for the 3DS line we have. Gamers are really gravitating towards the 2DS with its thinner, lighter, and really nice looking form. For those people who may have bought a 3DS four or five years ago it’s great system to upgrade to. I think people were worried with all the great games coming out on Nintendo Switch we were going to forget about the 3DS. We obviously haven’t with new games like Mario Party: The Top 100, the new Mario & Luigi title, and two new Pokémon games coming out this month. Rumours of the 3DS demise have been somewhat premature.
AC: Samus Returns is a fantastic game. I recently went on a business trip to Phoenix and while I don’t normally like flying, I didn’t mind the two hour flight. I played Samus Returns the whole way there. My flight back home tonight, to me that’s 4.5 hours of Super Mario Odyssey.
Future plans for Nintendo Switch
PH: Commuting has never this much fun, I can definitely attest to that. I was playing Mario Odyssey on my way here to meet you. Before we end things off here I have to ask you about the future of Nintendo Switch. 2017 has obviously been a banner year for Nintendo, so right now I’m less clear about what you have for us next year. We know Yoshi and Kirby are coming, but what else can you tell us?
AC: 2018 is something we’ll focus on when we get closer to it. We just a few weeks after the Odyssey launch so we’re still very much focused on that game. We’ve got some great stuff already announced out there, Kirby is coming fairly soon, Yoshi‘s coming next year. Both of those games are excellent family titles to play with kids. We’ll have more to say soon so stay tuned.
PH: Thanks a lot for your time, Andrew. You’ve got an incredible holiday line-up and really looking forward to what’s in-store for 2018.