Former Microsoft chief Xbox officer Robbie Bach has spoken to Fortune about the state of Nintendo and also reasons why you should never count the Kyoto company out. Bach explained how the Wii took the Xbox 360 team by surprise when it was announced and just how quickly it resonated with consumers. He also took some time to talk about the struggles of the Wii U and Nintendo’s successful venture with the Toys to Life category.
“I’m one of the people that won’t ever count Nintendo out,” Bach says. “During our development of Xbox 360 we focused pretty heavily on Sony and PlayStation 3 and the Wii was a complete surprise, so the first 18 months of our launch was a real challenge.”
“That market has become a lot more challenging because of smartphones, and their Wii U console frankly hasn’t caught on as well as they would like,” Bach says. “So you have a fabulous and amazing creative company that had incredible franchises, but doesn’t have a strong platform right now to develop for. That’s a tricky thing for them to navigate. They’re going to have to figure out either how to expand the number of platforms that they develop for, which would be a major change and would be risky, or they have to get into a cycle where their own Nintendo platforms evolve in a way that enables their games to get better coverage.”
“This does speak to something about Nintendo that’s different than Sony or Microsoft,” Bach says. “Sony is a consumer electronics company and Microsoft is a digital PC electronics company. Nintendo—with great respect and pride—is a toy company, and always has been. That’s why their franchises on the game side are so powerful. There may be an opportunity there for them to invest in what is essentially a core attribute of what they do (toys), and it may create an opportunity for the company that’s unique and separates them from Microsoft and Sony.”