The reveal of the Nintendo Switch in October triggered the gaming industry into a flurry of intrigue and questioning. How powerful is the machine? What would the launch line-up of titles look like? How much will it cost? Why is this man sitting so uncomfortably in order to play Skyrim?
With almost nothing confirmed in terms of price and specifications for the system, many “experts” have been speculating information based on supposed leaks and patents of the console’s architecture, along with insider opinions on the supposed direction Nintendo is heading.
Let’s get a few things straightened out first. Nintendo doesn’t produce the most powerful consoles. In fact, consoles by Nintendo are generally an entire generation behind what its competition has been putting out.
Does this matter? Not usually. Console players are usually less concerned with the graphical fidelity of games and more focused on the user interface and ease of use for a gaming machine, something which Nintendo practically specializes in.
Another point to understand revolves around the Nintendo Switch launch line-up. To put it simply, as long as a Mario title is somewhere to be found on Day 1, people will be willing to pick up the system.
It doesn’t even have to be a new Mario game at this point either. Almost no one purchased a Wii U, Nintendo could cheaply repackage a few of the Mario games for that system, stick some Switch branding on those suckers and rake in the dough.
BUT, times are changing. For most, the last real connection they had with Nintendo products was likely during the remarkably successful Wii/DS era, when literally hundreds of millions were addicted to Wii Sports and MarioKart DS.
This isn’t to say Nintendo hasn’t seen some moderate success in recent years. The Nintendo 3DS is a relatively popular handheld console, with titles like Pokemon Sun & Moon becoming some of the best selling games of 2016.
But when you put it all into perspective, the 3DS is a failure compared to its predecessor in terms of sales, and Nintendo is slowly losing a grip on the handheld gaming market, with mobile phone games poised to take over, despite the large amount of garbage titles pushed through that platform.
The days of dedicated portable gaming machines are numbered, and Nintendo knows it. Just this year we saw the release of Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run on mobile devices.
One thing these games did do is put Nintendo back into the forefront of the mainstream consumer’s mind. After playing Pokemon on my phone this year, I decided to buy a New 3DS and grab Pokemon Sun among other titles. And I know I’m not alone in that regard.
For the Nintendo Switch to succeed, Nintendo needs the perfect storm of a hyped and aware set of casual consumers, a fair price point and something truly unique that will make Playstation and Xbox owners pay attention to the third wheel of the gaming industry again.
Here’s why Nintendo won’t have that perfect storm:
1. The NES Classic Mini release has been a nightmare. This is the Blue Ocean strategy to the maximum, as Nintendo has staggered the console’s release so poorly, I’ve abstained from even looking for it anymore. Let’s be clear, The NES Classic is a glorified emulator. It should be cheap and quick to produce, leaving me to believe Nintendo, once again, tried to artificially hinder the availability of the hardware.
People are absolutely sick of this. This process does little more than create a breeding ground for scalpers who sell the console for over 3 times the original price, leaving a horrible taste in the mouth of adamant fans, while creating less revenue for Nintendo.
No one wins with this strategy and in the long haul, the situation will create confusion and animosity for the average consumer when the Nintendo Switch releases and most people still won’t have access to purchase an NES Classic.
2. Nintendo seems to be actively hiding a lot of detractors the Switch might have. Everything from the system only being 40% as powerful out of the dock, to not having any backwards compatibility. Every console has negative aspects to its design and implementations, but it is generally a better idea to reveal your machine’s baggage sooner rather than later.
With the official details on the console set to be revealed in January, only two months before the console’s intended release, I don’t see fans reacting positively to late-breaking negative news about the console.
The Playstation 4 is arguably killing sales numbers, and the Xbox one is putting up respectable efforts as well. The Wii U is a failure, selling under 15 million units in 4 years. To put that number in perspective, the PS4 has sold 50 million units…in 3 years.
Yes, the Wii U name and marketing message sucked. Casual consumers couldn’t differentiate between the Wii and its successor, and the attempt to cater to “hardcore” gamers with an under-powered, mid-cycle console release was ill-advised. Still, less than 15 million units sold is awful. For many, myself included, owning a Nintendo home console has become an antique practice.
Why I hope the Switch fails
To cut to the chase, I love Nintendo games, but hate their hardware and the restrictions they impose. Mario, Zelda and Kirby games fill me with glee unmatched by most forms of entertainment. Yet, I’ve reached the point where I’m unwilling to play these games on a wonky system that is under-powered, has horrible online features and overall seems rooted too deeply in conventions of the past.
I want the Nintendo Switch to fail because I’m sick of having to deal with the most inferior of hardware to play the pinnacle of games. Nintendo simply doesn’t create hardware that does its software justice. It’s not just about graphics for me, a cartoon plumber can only look so good. It’s more about the Nintendo ecosystem for me.
I shouldn’t have to identify my friends by a random assortment of 12 letters and numbers. I should be able to use voice chat in a team based shooter. My controller shouldn’t be an uncomfortable motion controlled rectangle.
I want the Nintendo Switch to fail so myself and the rest of the world can be free to enjoy Nintendo gaming masterpieces on the platform of our choice. Is that REALLY too greedy of a request?