Izneo, a digital platform for comic books and graphic novels, announced Thursday that it has finally come to the Nintendo Switch. One of the leading sources for European comics, Izneo offers more than 30,000 books in a wide variety of genres from top publishers, like Dark Horse, Archie, and Lion Forge Comics. As CEO Luc Bourcier exclusively tells Variety, the Nintendo Switch version of the service was actually slated to go up last autumn, but technical issues delayed the launch of the platform until today, February 28th.
“It was just a lack of familiarity,” said Bourcier, speaking from his office in Paris. “We’re used to working with web browsers and tablets, not Unity, so it took a little longer than we anticipated. But now we’re out there and available to the Nintendo Switch’s install base of 10 million users.”
Izneo joins the line-up of Nintendo’s hybrid console as one of the very first non-gaming apps, competing with the likes of Inky Pen, another comic subscription service.
Izneo subscriptions are $7.99 a month. Unlike Izneo, however, for the time being, Inky Pen is exclusive to the Switch, which limits its versatility. With Bourcier’s service, subscribers can bookmark a comic and read across a variety of platforms, including their tablet or laptop. They can read their favorite comics offline, too, provided they download them to the Switch’s limited onboard memory. Bourcier emphasizes that it’s part of the company’s strategy to appeal to a wide variety of millennial comic book fans who are likely to own consoles like the Switch.
“We know readers like to be able to consume digital content on the go,” Bourcier says. “On their phone, on their computer. With the Switch, you might read on the bus, anywhere you can take a real comic book. That’s a core part of what we want to do.”
While it might seem odd to some. Bourcier says that the Switch is a great platform to read comments on, even in its “docked” mode, which displays the image on a TV screen. “It’s a bit weird at first, but it’s actually a great way to see all the detail in each panel, the same way you might watch a movie or television program. I personally like it myself.”
Bourcier notes that the US market for digital comics is dominated by Comixology, a subscription service operated by Amazon, a colossus of capital, especially within the publishing industry. While Bourcier says that he doubts that Izneo can displace the market leader anytime soon, he emphasizes that the two services offer very different fare. While Comixology focuses on many of the biggest names in the US comics industry – especially superhero comics published by that duo of household names, Marvel and DC – as a European company, Izneo has more of a focus on the international side of the industry, from “graphic novels” to Korean webtoons. Though Bourcier admits that not every piece of content is fully translated into English yet, he says they’re constantly updating their catalog.
“Part of our belief is that all these things that we consider to be different – Japanese manga, European graphic novels, even American superhero comic books – are actually the same thing, just rooted in different cultures,” he says. “We’re trying to bring that understanding to a wider audience.”