“We’re so glad we collaborated with Nintendo on this.”
Until just last year, every console on the market used AMD’s solutions and chipsets- the PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U all used AMD SoCs, and Nvidia had publicly sworn off the console market years ago. But all of that changed when Nintendo launched the Switch this year, which uses Nvidia’s Tegra SoC. And the Switch has been a major success– so how is Nvidia evaluating the success of the console, and their stance towards the console market, as a result?
“Consoles is not really a business to [Nvidia]. It’s a business to [console manufacturers]. And we’re selected to work on these consoles,” said Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang at a recent investors Q&A. “And if it makes sense and the strategic alignment is great and we’re in a position to be able to do it, because the opportunity cost of building a game console is quite high. The number of engineers who know how to build computing platforms like this – and in the case of the Nintendo Switch, it’s just an incredible console that fits in such a small form factor. And it could both be a mobile gaming device as well as a console gaming device. It’s just really quite amazing, and they just did an amazing job.
“Somebody asked me a few months ago before it was launched how I thought it was going to do. And of course without saying anything about it, I said that it delighted me in a way that no game console has done in the last 10 – 15 years. And it’s true, this is a really, really innovative product and really quite ingenious. And if you ever have a chance to get it in your hands, it’s just really delightful.
“And so in that case, the opportunity to work on it was just really, really too enticing. We really wanted to do it, but it always requires deep strategic thought because it took several hundred engineers to work on, and they could be working on something else like all of the major initiatives we have. And so we have to be mindful about the strategic opportunity cost that goes along with these. But in the case of the Nintendo Switch, it’s just a home run. I’m so glad I did it, and it was the perfect collaboration for us.”
It sounds like for Nvidia, the Switch, being so different, and an exciting engineering opportunity, was a different case than other consoles are, and that’s why they decided to do it. It also probably makes sense that it was a good way for them to showcase their Tegra chips, which until then had been underperforming. Of course, the gambit paid off for them, and they sound reasonably happy as a result.
The Nintendo Switch is available now, worldwide.