On Friday the 13th Nintendo ballsed up their Switch launch event. They did so by focusing on things we already had and are bored of (motion control), introducing new things we don’t want (IR sensors) and forgetting that the device already has an awesome selling point – you can carry it around with you.
Add that to a very lackluster games line up and many are declaring it will follow the trend of Nintendo’s ever decreasing sales of home console.
I’d like to argue that this may not, and hopefully will not, be the case.
Before the Switch reveal most commentators were suggesting that Nintendo would be releasing a far simpler system after the failure of the Wii U. A console that was similar to the X1 and PS4. That would have been a stupid idea. The pull of Mario and Zelda alone will not cause people to part with another £300 for the same hardware. If exclusives caused people to buy multiple consoles more people would own both Sony’s and Microsofts hardware rather than a small minority. Maybe if they had released a console at the same time people would choose Nintendo but were now a few years into this generation and with Pros and Scorpios on the way the generation is not over yet (and maybe never will.)
What Nintendo are releasing is an alternative console. There is a reason to own one alongside another system because brings something new.
Now onto the games lineup. Like most I had assumed that the silence in the last year on the Wii U was down to Nintendo working hard on software for their brilliant new system. If they were they’ve forgotten to mention it so far. But this is nothing new for Nintendo. As some have mentioned recently this is a ‘soft launch’ and I think I know why Nintendo do this.
Nintendo like to keep their hardware secret. It’s understandable as they put a lot of money into the R&D but that comes at a cost. Developers. It doesn’t take a developer to see the potential in the Switch. It’s got a load of fancy gimmicks, it’s portable looks easy to network is and fairly powerful. The launch event where they took us through the hardware, HD rumble ect – that wasn’t aimed at consumers. That was aimed at developers – who will hopefully be releasing some cool little titles – which would be unique to the Switch – in around a year to 18 months. Which is when the hardware price will likely drop and talk of a new Switch will begin.
And that’s nothing new for Nintendo. The 3DS which everyone now turns too to show Nintendo’s dominance in the handheld console markert, that was a huge flop on launch leading to a price cut and a crappy Ambasidor program for fools like me that brought it at launch. And the 2DS – the king of handhelds was also hailed as a flop which would get it’s bottom handed to it by the sleek and sexy PSP. Both of these consoles flurished after been on the market for a while – after the developers who saw a purpose for the hardware created the software.
So are Nintendo’s days numbered? I don’t think so and it’s certainly too early to tell. They’re not in the kind of financial trouble Sega were in when the Dreamcast released so have time to address the problems. I have a feeling that by Christmas 2017 a Switch will be a nice prospect.