A brand and name recognized the world over. The company has been around since the late 1800s, but they didn’t get into video games until the 1970s. Since then they’ve become one of the world’s leading developers of video game hardware and software. They dominated the world of video games from the late 80s through the 90s and into the early 2000s. They lost steam as Sony and Microsoft began to rule home gaming with their Playstation and Xbox consoles respectively. Games went bigger, consoles became more powerful, and multiplayer went online. For one reason or another, Nintendo couldn’t or didn’t want to follow suit. Now they have a new system, the Nintendo Switch, that’s being swarmed by hype, but I don’t believe it. Nintendo’s last two home gaming systems have been gimmick-based, family friendly consoles that start out as the hot ticket—but end up dead in the water once the buzz fades. With the internet lighting up everyday with news about the Switch, I’ve decided to outline some reasons as to why I think it’ll end up like its predecessors : sadly collecting dust on shelves in stores and homes.
New Name, New Gimmick
Like its predecessors the Wii and Wii U, the Switch is built around gimmicks. Wii had “nunchuk” motion controllers and the Wii U had the “Gamepad,” that was like playing modern games with a Sega Gamegear. The Switch introduces a removable screen and the “Joy-Con” controllers that can function in multiple ways. I’ll try to explain as best I can:
— The main portion of the console is a removable touch screen that can be played by connecting the detachable Joy-Con controllers.
— The tablet sized touch screen can be docked to a stationary unit that runs your games through your tv making it function like a true home console.
— When the unit is docked, the Joy-Cons can be connected to a “grip” allowing them to function as a traditional controller or they can be used similarly to the “Nunchuk” controllers utilizing motion controls.
The gimmicky controllers will be cool for 10 minutes and then everyone is going to realize they don’t game this way for a reason.
If you watch a video explaining it then it doesn’t seem as confusing as it sounds. It doesn’t change the fact that Nintendo, for whatever reason, couldn’t decide whether to dedicate themselves to making a home console or handheld, so they ended up with this hybrid console with split personalities. Is it an overpowered handheld with a miserable battery life (2.5 to 6 hours based on the game—bet on that being closer to the lower end), or is it yet another home system that won’t be able to keep up graphically with the other consoles in a household? The Switch name refers to the versatility in play styles, and it probably also refers to how people are going to be switching to their other consoles after a couple hours because NO ONE IS GOING TO GAME LIKE THIS LONG TERM.
The gimmicky controllers will be cool for 10 minutes and then everyone is going to realize they don’t game this way for a reason. Also, no one buys home consoles so they can take them away from their home. That’s what handhelds are for. I don’t understand why Nintendo continues to build consoles around gimmicky ideas instead of creating a true home console that can keep up with industry standards and give their games the best chance of excelling in gameplay and sales. It’s like they’re cool being in 3rd place wasting great titles like Zelda and Mario on systems that are behind the times.
The Switch is a smaller console that’s built to be played at home, but also doubles as a portable system. Comparing it straight up to the PS4 and Xbox One isn’t 100% fair nor is the Switch completely aiming for what those consoles do. With that being said Nintendo has created a system that’s destined to live as a secondary console in the homes of most gamers (or destined to live on the shelves of stores ‘cos most gamers won’t waste their time). Thanks to some unofficial tech specs found on the web, console elitists have discovered that the Switch will come up very short when measured side by side to the PS4 and Xbox One. Its CPU has less cores—two, where PS4 and Xbox One have four. Those cores work slower—1020MHZ, compared to PS4’s 1600MHz and Xbox One’s 1750MHz.
The Switch’s internal memory is less than the PS4 and Xbox One’s by half (4GB rather than 8GB) and its storage is drastically less. Standard PS4s and Xbox Ones come with 500GB of storage for game data and downloads. The Switch comes with 32GB. Sure, it’s expandable via SD cards—but it obviously pales in comparison. Also, Nintendo is putting games back on cartridges to up the nostalgia factor and save some money (I’m assuming), but they’ll only be able to handle 16GB worth of data. That means games will only be able to be 16GB on the cartridge meaning who knows how much you’ll have to download onto your 32GB system storage to run them. Again, Nintendo clearly isn’t trying to get you to replace your current console with the Switch, but is the new Zelda and new Mario titles really worth shelling out over $300 for? Unless you’re a die hard fan, I doubt it.
No Bang for Your Buck
So far we’ve learned that the Switch is confused as to what it wants to be—a home console, portable handheld, or both? And we’ve also learned that it’ll make a poor show of standing up to the PS4 and Xbox One in terms of performance. To make things worse, by the time it releases it’ll be one of the most expensive consoles on the market. Nintendo’s Switch is retailing for $300. To compare, Microsoft has a bundled Xbox One package that includes a 1TB Xbox One for $350. It’s not exactly great seeing that there’s more powerful systems offering more for your money. The price of peripherals won’t help much either. Joy-Con controllers will cost $80, as will a separate Pro controller. A separate dock to use the system in another room will cost $90. The Joy-Con grip that allows you to hold the Joy-Cons like a normal controller while charging them is sold separately.
In case you forgot, you still have to buy the games and the games available at launch—besides Zelda: Breath of the Wild—aren’t anything I’d be hyped about. “1, 2 Switch” wants you to play rock, paper, scissors with your console, and “ARMS” is a juiced up version of “Wii Sports” boxing. The rest of the games coming within the launch window are ports from older Wii games (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe), or incredibly past due versions of games like “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” (which just got a “Remastered” version on stronger consoles last Fall). Like most consoles, you’ll have to pay for online gaming (which Nintendo is also behind the curve with) after a trial period this Summer. Nintendo wants you to have fun and they want you to have it with as many people as possible, but how many people are going to be willing to pay for this kind of fun? (Of course, as I write this I know that the console pre-orders have sold out—but that always happens. The whole point of this piece is to say that people will be over it in a year.)
Little and/or Meaningless Outside Help
Third party support is something Nintendo has struggled with for years. The Wii and Wii U started their console cycles with hype and positivity that drew developers in to try and create unique gaming experiences for these unique consoles. That hype and positivity always end up on the same sinking ship. The consoles are notoriously underpowered, so outside developers decide to not waste time and energy (and money) on a gimmicky system and dedicate their efforts to triple a titles for consoles that will move units. One of the big selling points behind the Switch is that supposedly Nintendo has a plethora of support already lined up from big third party companies.
Sounds good, right? It might be for a year or so, but developers will realize the same thing they always have: the system is gimmicky, consumers don’t want to play a Triple A game on a system built around this gimmick, however, they do want to play it on PS4 and Xbox One—so we’re going to stick to working on the stuff that makes us money. When this shift of interest and money happens, like it always does, Nintendo will be stuck with the same roster of great games they always have—Zelda, Mario, Smash Bros, Pokemon, etc., and nothing else. Nobody wants to waste resources on a console that can’t keep up with the standards of the industry no matter how unique the console may be.
With all that negativity I just spewed I do have to say this: I hope things are different this time around. I genuinely want Nintendo to be successful and continue to bring the world joy by creating great games—which they’re not bad at. They just can’t make a console that holds the gaming industry’s interest for longer than a couple years. The Switch seems like a really cool idea, but so did the Wii and the Wii U. It’s underpowered, it’s gimmicky, it’s expensive, and it’s also kind of ugly.
Nobody wants to spend over $300 for a console that MAY have four good games to play throughout its console life. No reasonable gamer is gonna take their system to a friends house to play multiplayer when they can already do that via the internet (with more power and better graphics). Realistically, the only people getting one of these are Nintendo fanboys and hardcore gamers who have to own and play everything. The casual or even dedicated gamer will probably stick with what they’ve already got at home. I know I will.