Nintendo looks to boost Switch output for stay-at-home gamers

OSAKA/KYOTO — Nintendo seeks to raise output of the Switch video game device this year in response to a jump in demand from homebound consumers, Nikkei has learned.

The Kyoto-based game developer says it expects to produce about 10% more units of the Switch series in 2020, up from around 20 million last year, according to parts suppliers informed of the plans.

The company does not make the device itself, but has asked multiple suppliers and contract assemblers to prepare for additional production in the April-June quarter.

Nintendo has been suffering from a Switch shortage owing to problems with its supply chain, which forced it temporarily to halt shipments in Japan earlier this month.

“We hope [suppliers] will be responsive to the production increase, but for procurement of some parts, the outlook remains uncertain, and we can’t forecast exactly how many Switches can be supplied,” a Nintendo representative told Nikkei.

Gaming is experiencing a global boom due to coronavirus stay-at-home orders. Playtime for gamers has surged 45% in the U.S. and 38% in France, according to tracking company Nielsen.

The Switch received a boost from last month’s release of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” The popular title has sold 3 million copies in Japan through its third week, according to the gaming magazine Famitsu.

However, the supply chain for the Switch has expanded to China and Southeast Asia. Malaysia and the Philippines have imposed social restrictions that could frustrate part deliveries.

“We’ll do what we can to comply with the production increase request,” said a representative at a components supplier.

Some parts suppliers apparently have received orders for April-June that are more than 50% larger than originally planned.

“There are signs procurement is being moved forward to deal with the disruptions in the supply chains,” said an industry source.

The Switch continues to be in short supply worldwide since the problems surfaced in early February. Prices for the device on online shopping sites have climbed since the middle of February, according to Trend Search, a price comparison service.

The lowest price on offer was nearly 65,000 yen ($604), or roughly double the suggested retail price, early this month after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared an emergency order for parts of the country including Tokyo.

Around that time, Nintendo halted domestic shipments for the Switch. The company revealed April 14 that deliveries will resume between late April and mid-May for those who made preorders on online shopping sites.

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