Insider Q&A-Nintendo’s Bowser
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With a new theme park attraction opened last month, an upcoming major motion picture and the sequel to a massive hit video game about to be released, everything’s coming up Nintendo.
Doug Bowser, the head of Nintendo USA since 2019, spoke to The Associated Press at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Super Nintendo World in Los Angeles before its Feb. 17 grand opening. Q: You’ve got a new movie (“The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” April 7), this new attraction at Universal, and the new Legend of Zelda game (“Tears of the Kingdom,” May 12). What’s next, a prestige streaming TV show?
A: You’re hitting on something which is really important. This is a milestone, what you’re seeing here with Super Nintendo World. Universal Studios is a great partner to allow us to do Super Nintendo World. I won’t comment on your question regarding a streaming show. But it really is a reflection on this ability to share our IP with people well outside of the video game space.
Q: The new attraction I was able to see today is really impressive. Could there ever be an entire theme park build around Nintendo characters, like Disneyland?
A: Well, we’ve got a great partner with Universal Studios. I think we have packed a lot of exciting and fun stuff. Even with the size of the park here, you can spend hours just exploring, finding little Easter eggs, little treasures. If you load the app on your phone you can actually keep score, it’s very much like being in a video game, with the ability to play in a linear way but then also wander around and explore.
Q: Would you say video games are now the dominant force in entertainment?
A: They’re clearly a prominent form of entertainment right now. As we came through and out of the pandemic, they became an incredible source if you will, of people’s entertainment. We saw very nice growth in the industry over the last few years with people looking for different forms to entertain themselves at home, either as an individual online or with the family. So I do think it’s a form of entertainment going forward that people will continue to choose.
Q: What other characters besides the Mario Bros. would you like to develop new films or attractions around? Full disclosure, I’ve got a Donkey Kong tattoo, I’d be thrilled with a Donkey Kong movie for example.
A: That really is a call for the creative groups here at Universal Studios and of course, Nintendo. If you think about park experiences, we have announced that at the Universal Studios in Osaka that will be expanding that land to include Donkey Kong. There’s a whole new Donkey Kong area being built out with its primary feature being a roller coaster. You can just imagine what a Donkey Kong roller coaster might be like! We have announced that we are working on other video projects but we’re not at the point where we want to talk about what these characters are. I could share my favorites, but that probably wouldn’t be appropriate. If you’ve noticed with the new Super Mario Bros. movie, Seth Rogen does play Donkey Kong. So Donkey Kong is a part of the movie. So look forward to that!
Q: Is there any date for the Nintendo attractions at Universal Studios in Orlando and Singapore? Will they be bigger, different?
A: No date on Singapore. Orlando is a couple years in the future. You’ll have to wait and see. You can assume, if you look at Orlando, it’s got a lot of land, so it’s likely a bigger footprint.
Q: When is the next Switch coming out? What kinds of features or new capabilities would you like to see?
A: As we enter the seventh year for the Nintendo Switch, sales are still strong. I think we still have a very very strong lineup coming. As Mr. Furukawa (Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa) said recently, we’re entering uncharted territory with the platform. It’s exciting to see that demand is still there. So nothing to announce on any future console or device, but we are still feeling very bullish about Nintendo Switch.
I should be careful about what I personally would like to see (in a new Switch). But what I can share is that one of the reasons that even going into year seven we feel very confident that the Switch can have a strong performance over the next few years is that it is still truly that unique device that you can play in a variety of ways, at home, on the go. One of the things we look at always is how can we surprise and delight. How can we introduce new unique ways of playing. That’s always in front of our mind.
Q: Is Madden coming to the Switch?
A: That’s a better question for my good friends over at EA.
Q: Are supply chain problems still an issue?
A: Really coming out of the summer and into the final quarter of last year, the holiday period, we saw that that constriction if you will in chip supply reduce. So right now, from a supply chain perspective, we’re able to supply that demand that’s out there.
Q: How did you get to a $70 price figure for the upcoming Zelda game?
A: We look at what the game has to offer. I think fans will find this is an incredibly full, deeply immersive experience. The price point reflects the type of experience that fans can expect when it comes to playing this particular game. This isn’t a price point that we’ll necessarily have on all our titles. It’s actually a fairly common pricing model either here or in Europe or other parts of the world, where the pricing may vary depending on the game itself.
Q: Any sales goals for the new Zelda?
A: There are, but they’re not publicly disclosed yet.
Q: What’s the next big thing in gaming? The metaverse, AI, what else?
A: I think what you’ll see with gaming is that we’ll continue to see new technologies come into play that will allow us to expand the number of players that come in. As we think about technology, the most important thing is we think about how will it improve the gameplay experienced. It’s not technology for technology’s sake. Will it really create this experience that is immersive, that creates smiles. We lead with that and then see what technology can support that.