The Nintendo NX is no more, Nintendo has dropped the code name and finally revealed their newest console, AND portable. It’s called the Nintendo Switch. It’s a hybrid handheld console and I’m very excited for it. The more I think about it, the better it sounds actually. But I will be fair, I am a huge Nintendo fan and I have bought 4 of their consoles (including the Wii U) and 3 of their handhelds at launch (not including special editions). The ones I didn’t buy at launch, I got later, and still have it…even the Virtual Boy. Last but not least, my game collection is probably 70%+ Nintendo. So yes, I do play favorites to Nintendo, but if you are also a Nintendo fan or even rooting for Nintendo to succeed, then get excited. If the momentum gets big enough for the Switch, Nintendo might bounce back strong. The more I think about the system the more potential I can imagine from it. I just hope Nintendo can capitalize. Here are some things I’m throwing around in my head.
Local Multiplayer Possibilities
This could be huge, this could re-invent things like couch co-op, LAN parties, and your traditional ideas of local multiplayer. Even with only one piece of hardware it looks like players could gather around the screen and play a co-op game like Diablo, and Donkey Kong or even multiplayer games of Madden and Mario Kart. The more this spreads, or the more people that own the Switch, the wider the multiplayer possibilities get. Battlefield, Splatoon, and other resource heavy titles will start to become a possibility. With some of my friends, it might actually be easier to play a game together in person than online. A good amount of my friends and family have a PS4, if those games we play at home were also portable, we would be playing a lot more together. Even transporting it to a friend’s house is simple.
Combining It’s Markets
The biggest roadblock is that this system has to sell, a lot. If the social aspects and local multiplayer opportunities are really going to flourish, it’s going to need to have a large install base. The Playstation 4 sold amazingly, in 3 years, it’s already around 44 million, one of the fastest selling consoles of all time. In 3 years the XBox One has reached 22 million while the Wii U only broke 11 million in 4 years time. And the 3DS, which is very important here, will most likely hit 60 Million sold in 2017. The Switch means Nintendo is combining it’s portable market and it’s console market, there is definitely some overlap in there, but it’s actually not too crazy to think that it could put up PS4 numbers. If it REALLY catches on and reaches a fad-like status, Nintendo could have a Wii/DS combo on it’s hands (Wii sold 101million, DS sold 153million).
I’m sure the mobile market has shrunk but you can see the potential. Before Apple introduced the iPad, people didn’t understand why they would need a tablet, or a giant smartphone for their homes. Maybe the Switch can make people realize why a handheld gaming device can co-exist with their smart phones. Is local multiplayer the answer? Or maybe it’s the fact it’s the same games they can play on the big screen.
Their is another big advantage to Nintendo combining it’s their markets and creating this hybrid. This means almost all of Nintendo’s resources are going to be focused on one device. Nintendo consoles get a lot of deserved criticism for not having a lot of games, the Wii U was pretty much only supported by Nintendo for the majority of it’s life. But make no mistake, most of the games Nintendo put out on the Wii U were great, it has some of my favorites from the past 5 years.
During the life of the Wii U, the 3DS has also had some great titles I want to list: Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Bravely Default, The Monster Hunters series, Several Pokemons, Dragon Quest Series, Luigi’s Mansion, Project X Zone, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Persona Q, Professor Layton, Yo-Kai Watch and many more. Can you imagine Nintendo combining these development resources, these libraries onto the same device?
That is a HUGE list of exclusive games. Nintendo’s handheld resources might actually be the key to bulking up Nintendo’s console library. The handheld division still has strong third party relationships, and Nintendo still puts out a lot of games for the handhelds. I might be wrong (I’ll check this later) but I believe Nintendo publishes more games worldwide per year than anybody. If they get to focus on one device, they should really be able to churn out some games. It kind of seems like they’ve taken the past year or so off on the Wii U & 3DS too, so we might even see a strong surge from the start. Third parties seem to be interested too, the lack of games in a Nintendo console’s library might be a thing of the past.
Potential Wrong Direction for Microsoft & Sony*
Sony and Microsoft have new hardware upgrades coming to the XBox and Playstation lines. The XBox Scorpio (codename) and Playstation Pro are more powerful versions of the XBox One and Playstation 4. From what we’ve heard (to be fair, we haven’t heard much from MS) the systems are going to play all of the same games as the XBox One and PS4. And the new hardware will allow 4K gaming, 1080p with 60fps on some new upcoming releases, and will be patched into some previously released titles too. This will allow for better visuals and better performance from the games we are already playing.
How big of a deal is this though? If you’re a PC gamer and don’t already have those abilities, it would make more sense to just upgrade your rig than to buy one of these consoles, right? It would more than likely be cheaper. Then there’s the argument that if you really did care about high resolutions, frame rates, latest upgrades and high power, then you wouldn’t be a console gamer. Right now Sony and Microsoft are copying the PC market, they’re getting out of the console lane. We just bought Playstation 4’s and XBox One’s in the past 3 years and see that it’s successful, and they’re already trying to push new hardware, a new cost of entry. I think they finally ran out of games to remaster from last generation, and now they’re telling us we need to buy new hardware to really experience this generation. It’s kind of bullshit…for console owners.
Like Nintendo, Microsoft is also consolidating itself. But in a different direction, one that also is pushing the XBox more into the PC market. Microsoft allows you to stream XBox One games onto your PC, and is even allowing cross-buying between XBox One to PC. So if you buy a copy of certain XBox One games, you will also be able to download it on the PC. This is going to bring a lot of XBox One games over to the PC. This is great for PC gamers. Is it great for XBox One or Console gamers? All of the Microsoft Published titles (see: Exclusives) are going to be on PC now, isn’t that less reason to buy the console? Is Power really the only reason to buy the Scorpio? Would it make more sense to get a PC? Microsoft is still going to benefit from another Windows 10 customer, but what about the console?
What about Sony and the PS4 Pro? It’s got some strong pre-orders on Amazon already. And it does have appeal for those console gamers who haven’t picked up a PS4 or XB1 yet. It’s not that much more expensive than a PS4 Slim. But that also kind of indicates that it’s not that much more powerful either. Is it even a big enough jump to make current PS4 owners go through with an upgrade? This is all kind of new to console gamers (except for the N64 expansion pak). Sony might be going down a bad route, it might mishandle it’s lead while focusing on staying a step ahead of Microsoft.
What happened to the Vita? Sony tried CrossPlay with Vita before and even Remote Play of the PS4. They were on the same path that lead Nintendo to the Switch, but Sony didn’t go that direction. The Vita can make your PS4 mobile with the previously mentioned CrossPlay. But it had some big issues, latency between the Vita and the system. The Vita didn’t have the same control layout (no real L2/R2 or L3/R3). It required Wi-Fi, it wasn’t super user-friendly, it just wasn’t the same. Also add to the fact it was another $200 to spend on top of your $400 console. Think about it, instead of PSVR and PSPro, Sony could’ve come out with a new PS Vita/PSP that was basically a portable, digital only PS4. No need to stream from the PS4 to the a portable anymore, no latency, no control issues, no wi-fi requirements. It would be too small to handle PS4 discs, but you could get all of your PS4 digital titles on the go (this would help increase digital sales too). Nintendo is going to capitalize on being first to market with the first hybrid console handheld, and Sony could’ve been there first.
Sony’s obviously gone a different direction, and not just by adding more power. They also recently introduced Playstation Virtual Reality. Which also requires a Playstation 4. I have one and it is very fun, it definitely a cool thing, but I don’t believe this is replacing games as we know it, it instead is creating it’s own market, similar to mobile games. While Nintendo consolidates, Sony is expanding and they might spread themselves thin in the process. Sony’s support for the Vita and Move was lackluster, so where’s the confidence in their support of the PSVR? They are going to have to now cater to different games in a different market that will always be restricted to being smaller than the PS4. The Switch will push local multiplayer and socializing over games, while VR might push more into isolation. Maybe the most affordable gaming VR headset will take off and propel both PS4 sales and PSVR sales, maybe that extra power of the PS4 Pro will be more appealing in the future with certain PSVR games. There are still different branches of success that can come from this scenario, but Sony might regret not pushing the portable idea more.
(*If I’m incorrect about information, please let me know. If I’m proven wrong or misunderstood some of the functionalities and features of the XBox Scorpio, PS4 Pro or the XBox One on PC than please let me know. I understand this section is looking at Microsoft’s plans negatively, and is full of opinion/speculation, but I still aim to be educated in my speculation.)
Portability > 4K Power?
The Portability of the Switch might be more appealing than we all know. I know a lot of people who play console games, but don’t play 3DS or mobile games. I always prefer playing on the console, I almost never play on my 3DS…even though it has so many games I feel I must play. The local multiplayer opportunities might be enough to drive some people to playing portable games more often. In a lot of scenarios, I think a portable console with Nintendo exclusives is the best secondary, and primary console. PS4 and XBox Owners might see the portability option as more appealing than a power boost or 4K capabilities of a system they already have. The PS4 gamer who was considering buying a Scorpio as a complimentary console might find the Nintendo exclusives a bigger difference than Microsoft’s, plus, it’s portable. Majority of third party games that are on XB1 or PS4 are also on PC, all of those XBox One exclusives, also on PC. So what do the PC gamers want more, Sony exclusives or Nintendo exclusives and portability? Then you have the gamers who haven’t jumped into this generation yet. If the Switch is in the same power range as a PS4 or XB1, it will have an advantage with it’s portability, and those late adopters of this generation likely won’t care too much about the power increase of a Pro or Scorpio. Portability, not power might actually be a bigger difference maker in the next console purchase you make
Nintendo already has MiiVerse and Street Pass set up from the Wii U & 3DS. Hopefully they learned a lot from last generation and can no re-launch and expand it. Imagine if you don’t even need to carry the Switch to make the same Street Pass connections and earn the same steps. What if you could remove one of the controller pieces and throw that in your pocket and that worked? What if you could just run an app on your phone, you could send messages, post on MiiVerse, StreetPass connect, and socialize with other people on the Nintendo Network. Maybe even discover a way you can log into someone elses device to access your digital games, or cloud saves incase you wanted to load a character or join in a match on someone else’s Switch. Nintendo usually misses opportunities like these, I hope they finally figured this out.
Nintendo has started releasing games on mobile phones this year, Miitomo, Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run are the first 3 releases. Pokemon GO was already insanely popular, creating new fans and bringing back a lot of old fans. Super Mario Run will most likely continue this, and a lot of people might remember the simplicity and charm of Nintendo’s game play. The Nintendo mini-system coming this holiday will reintroduce Nintendo to a lot of it’s old fans and maybe make some new ones. This all might make some new people realize that they want a little more Nintendo.
The virtual console is going to be a huge exclusive library Nintendo will be able to reel a lot of people in if they do it properly. Remember when I mentioned local multiplayer on the Switch? Now imagine playing Mario Kart 64, Contra, Diddy Kong Racing, Mario Party, or Double Dragon on it? Those games are built for local multiplayer, and those NES, SNES and N64 games were all built for local multiplayer. Perfect
Launch Date & Price
Consoles generally launch during the holiday season, but the Switch is coming in March 2017. What if Nintendo plans a launch with a shortage of unites like the Wii and the amiibo. It will generate some hype, bring attention to it, maybe disperse them throughout the year. Then right as we reach holiday 2017, flood the market and maybe even throw in a bundle to really make it blow up right at the peak of excitement. This could be a whole new strategy to build the hype into the holiday and transition from a launch into a holiday, instead of doing both at the same time. Since the dock doesn’t seem to be any more than a charging station that outputs to the TV and doesn’t add any extra power, this device could come in around $250 – $300 and really be appealing
—I will add more thoughts including game ideas and possibilities over the weekend. This is just everything I could spew out right now in the initial excitement of the Nintendo Switch reveal.