On March 3rd, Nintendo released their newest gaming console — the Switch — and it looks like it is on track to be another failure. Do not get me wrong here, I have nothing but love for Nintendo, but sometimes Nintendo irks me more than a crying baby in a movie theater.
The first problem is: March…? Seriously, why on earth would they release a gaming system in March? Especially since the Switch will be hitting shelves with only nine games available. Instead of releasing the system immediately, why doesn’t Nintendo wait until November 2017, when most gamers are in the market for new systems, and the number of games accompanying the system break double digits? The news first broke about the Switch in October, 2016, and this would offer Nintendo an additional nine months to promote and manufacture hype.
Nintendo seems content with blaming their recent failures on capabilities. Clearly, Nintendo has fallen short of Microsoft and Sony with the last few generations of systems they released. But the issue is not the technology. The Wii and the Wii-U were innovative gaming systems, which offered users revolutionary ways to game. Consider the fact that, in many ways, The Switch seems to be Nintendo’s attempt to replicate Sony’s failed PSP Vida.
The issue in my opinion, is a lack of content.
Part of this is a misunderstanding of their brand on the part of the company. Nintendo seems unrealistically interested in courting adult gamers with the Switch, repeatedly hyping its ability to run the realistic, cross-platform franchises like NBA 2K and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim which will find a home on this system. Part of this is an attempt to woo Third Party Developers. Personally I do not understand why Nintendo is so infatuated with the “Titan Fall crowd” of gamers. That is not their market. Nintendo has designed its systems for couch gaming. In fact, this has probably helped keep Nintendo in the game. While only the most dedicated gamers purchase both PlayStation and Xbox, but a majority of people—after committing to one—will also purchase a moderately priced Nintendo system solely for couch gaming with friends.
The trade-off for Nintendo, when pursuing mature gamers, could come at the cost of the more casual gamers who solely purchase Nintendo out of nostalgia or for social gaming purposes. The other problem for Nintendo is, if the Switch really has the capabilities to run games like Skyrim, and those types of games are going to be the focus of Nintendo in the near future, the Switch is clearly being mis-marketed. Does anyone know a gamer over the age of nineteen who is truly excited about the release? It seems like a system solely designed for high schoolers, as all the marketing has focused on portability and social gaming. I don’t remember Skyrim being a multi-player game! Nintendo needs to get their story straight, as I really do not know who they expect to sell this thing.
On the Skyrim note—while Nintendo seems to be giving undue attention to the six-year-old game, not even Bethesda (the developer) knows what version of the game will be running on Nintendo’s new system. Will it be the original version created six years ago, the year-old Special Edition, or something else? Also, it should be noted that current reports indicate that the early rumors are false, and while the Switch will be more powerful that previous Nintendo systems, it will be less powerful than the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4.
Nintendo’s strength has always been its Intellectual Properties. Yet, since at least the Game Cube, too much of that content has been left on the shelf. Most gamers frustration with the Wii’s has been a lack of games, from third-party developers, but especially from Nintendo. Though the PlayStation was technically superior, the N64 was beloved by many because of the abundance of quality games, featuring our favorite Nintendo characters. We love our Nintendo games, and we love our Nintendo characters.
To some extent, Nintendo realizes that their franchises are the source of their power. That is one of the reasons the company is investing significant resources into film production, to expand their storytelling and characters across different media.
I believe that the one redeeming quality of the Switch has been Nintendo’s decisions to offer a paid online subscription similar to what Microsoft currently does. Both of the Wii systems were notorious for poor internet connectivity. Gamers will undoubtedly be pleased with a lag-free online system that is superior to Nintendo’s previous attempts.
Yes, Nintendo’s has been innovative. Undoubtedly, the Switch looks to be an innovative system, but a repeated failure to develop games pushing the limitations of the technology makes me think that the Switch will be more of the same from Nintendo.