It has been just over a week since the Nintendo Switch Presentation and there’s a lot to talk about. There have been plenty of articles and videos expressing thoughts on the Switch’s future. I write this article with one question in mind: “Will the Nintendo Switch succeed?” It’s a gaming console unlike any other out there and sure, it’s got a lot of promise, but will it fly off the shelves like Nintendo hopes. Let me break down some points that I feel are important in contemplating the Switch’s future.
The pricing for the Nintendo Switch can make or break its success. During the presentation Nintendo revealed that the prices for the system would be $299.99 in the US, ¥29,980 in Japan, £279.99 in the UK and $469.95 AU in Australia.
The system itself comes with the Nintendo Switch, the Switch Dock, an HDMI cable and power adapter, a Joy-Con Grip (the non-charging version) and two Joy-Con Straps.
There are also two SKUs for the system. One includes a pair of grey Joy-Cons and the other a set consisting of a Neon Blue and a Neon Red colored Joy-Con. My initial impression on the Switch pricing was great, and I still feel like it is a solid priced system for what they are offering. However it’s not the base price I’m worried about; it’s the price of the standalone accessories. The accessories, while having a wide array of play options, come in at a hefty price with a set of Joy-Con controllers costing $79.99.
Now, there are two ways to approach this price tag. The more positive one is that the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con’s function as a standalone controller for a variety of games. So at $50 for a single Joy-Con and $80 for a pair, you’re essentially getting two controllers for fairly good price. You can even think of it as getting two very advanced Wii Remotes (with even more functionality), as the price point would be the same. However even with each of the Joy-Cons operating as a standalone controller, the more advanced games (like Zelda or Skyrim) are going to require both of them in order to play. $80 a pair is not cheap, even if the tech inside them is very good. Perhaps the main issue Nintendo will need to overcome here is convincing people the technology is worth the price point. Those who have used the controllers themselves seem more willing to shell out the money for an extra set.
Nintendo has always been different as has always taken risks and pushed new ideas. Some of the risks have definitely been worth taking, such as the Nintendo Wii, while others like the Virtual Boy become nothing more than a collector’s item to a select few. The Nintendo Switch again pushes a new idea to the game industry: a home console and a portable gaming device in one. Somewhat like the Nintendo Wii U, the console allows console quality graphics on a portable device. However with the Nintendo Switch, you aren’t limited to just your living room. Upon removing the Nintendo Switch from the dock it seamlessly switches from displaying on the TV to being displayed on the Nintendo Switch system. This means you can play large scale games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild wherever you go. That is the main selling point of the Switch: the ability to “Switch” your experience to a portable and take it with you wherever you want. Is that alone enough to make the system sell? Maybe not, but Nintendo added a couple more surprises.
During their press conference, Nintendo unveiled that the Switch will have gyroscopic motion controls as well as a new feature they are calling “HD Rumble.” HD rumble is said to be so precise that it can imitate the feeling of an ice cube inside a glass, or even two or three, each moving individually. How they demoed this in the press conference, however, doesn’t really scream anything exciting. Those who have used the system have said that they can feel the purr of the engine in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. In Breath of the Wild you can feel the pull of the bow or feel bubbles rising up from the swamp you’ve taken a deadly fall into. Though the name sounds similar to what we have all heard before, HD Rumble can potentially offer a whole new unique immersion experience with touch. The Nintendo Switch has also packs unique features from all of Nintendo’s past systems into one console, so there are countless ways the system can be utilized. A few more of these being an IR motion camera, a multi-touch capacitive touch screen and the portability factor the Gamecube hoped to offer with its handle. Even with all these features, the Nintendo Switch does have to prove itself a worthy system, despite some of its predecessors past failures. With the Wii U, we ran into struggles of the Gamepad not having its potential fully realized. There were also many who were critical of the Gamepad and motion controls being relied on too heavily in games. These individuals argued that a better gameplay experience could have been accomplished with a return to traditional controls. The challenge for the Switch now is to implement unique ways of play that are a good experience while again offering those who prefer traditional controls an experience they will enjoy.
Ultimately the biggest point for whether or not the Switch will succeed is the games. Not just a library of games, but a library of good games. While I realize the term “good games” is a subjective one, the Switch does need games that appeal to every person and not just Nintendo fans. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild could be the most amazing game made in Nintendo’s history, but some consumers would be much more interested in the latest Call of Duty. Everyone has different tastes and it’s up to Nintendo and their cooperation with third parties to bring the games that will sell the system. While we have seen more third party support than past consoles with games like Skyrim, Disgaea, NBA 2K and The Binding of Issac, we simply do not know how well the third party support will hold up during the consoles lifespan. Some developers may only be interested in making the most realistic and visually appealing games and won’t necessarily care for the portability or the unique features of the Nintendo Switch. When it comes down to whether or not they will develop for the system, they might prefer to turn to more powerful consoles like the PS4 and it’s Pro counterpart. However, the larger the install base of the system, the more third parties will be interested in developing games on Switch. The Wii, though by far the weaker console at the outset of the 2006 console race, had plenty of third party support because of its large install base. If the Nintendo Switch proves to be a money maker, you can be sure third party developers will follow suit.
One of Nintendo’s biggest strengths is their large base of IPs. Nintendo IPs are probably the most well known and memorable that the gaming industry has to offer. They are constantly introducing new and unique IPs like ARMS, while simultaneously building on their existing titles like Zelda, Splatoon, Mario Kart and Super Mario. While we have seen a decent line up for the first year of the Nintendo Switch with Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and titles like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the first year is only half the battle. Many fans would love to see the return of Metroid and F-Zero while others are still clamoring for the localization of Mother 3. Nintendo needs to revive these IPs in order to see more sales of their system as there are those that are going to wait for these titles to be announced before making the “Switch” (It’s hard not to use that). It’s Nintendo’s IP that make Nintendo systems truly unique and different from your Xbox One or PS4, but the Nintendo Switch without a versatile lineup of first party titles is a system that will not succeed next to the large install base of the competition.
Ultimately it’s too soon to tell if the Switch will succeed or fail. The 3DS launched and looked like a console that was doomed for the shelf of shame next to the virtual boy. Nintendo thankfully was able to revive the 3DS with a price drop and a robust lineup of games, turning a would be failure into the console that completely dwarfs the PlayStation Vita in sales (despite the Vita’s much better processing power). With support for Unreal Engine 4, Unity, etc., the Nintendo Switch looks like it can have a lot of potential for a large library of games that take advantage of its unique features. That being said Nintendo does need to show their fans and potential buyers that they are ready to win back their trust after the Wii U. Here’s hoping that they are listening to the feedback they have received and are willing to make this a console unlike any other.