How the Nintendo Switch Could Fail
Nintendo is arguably the most famous game company of all time. It made a smooth transition from the golden era of the 80’s to the modern games industry and is still cranking out both hardware and software. All of our original favorites come from Nintendo’s library. Mario, Legend of Zelda, and Pokemon just to name a few. I truly cannot think of a company that defines the games industry more. We’ve heard about the Switch. We’ve had some time to gush over it. It’s an innovative, hybrid home/portable console that has some real potential. That doesn’t mean it’s faultless.
The salt mines have opened and all around the internet, fans and critics alike are pointing out what Nintendo is already doing wrong. I’ll try to give a break down of the biggest issues, and offer my own opinion on how Nintendo should handle each.
The Virtual Console
Nintendo’s virtual console, seemingly, is what everyone wanted. A way to play all the old Nintendo titles we know and love as well as introduce some indie talent. Instead, we got a lackluster drip feed and what looked like a plea from Nintendo to hand over any disposable income for a taste of nostalgia. Case in point: Pokemon Snap. Probably one of the most popular N64 games ever released, it should be a no brainer to make this title available on the VC. Instead, Nintendo waited until the very end of the Wii U’s life cycle to offer this game. Why? Because Nintendo, that’s why. There isn’t any other explanation than a bad move being made on their part.
Nintendo’s Virtual Console gets even worse with the Switch. First, none of the games you downloaded and paid for on the WiiU or 3DS will transfer. (EDIT: This has not yet been confirmed or denied by Nintendo.) To add insult to injury, the one free game you get each month for the paid online service is just a rental. That’s right. You get to rent the equivalent of a ROM from Nintendo for one month before they take it away. Why would anyone pay for a service like this?
The solution is simple. Let people keep the products they paid for by porting them over to the new console. The Switch’s launch library is then bolstered, and Nintendo stands to make more money in between the launches of major retail titles.
Do you remember the Wii U’s launch? Neither do I. What I do remember is the measly foot of wall space we dedicated to the system at my old GameStop and how desperately we tried to fill it. Nintendo clearly hasn’t learned its lesson and is releasing the Switch with only 4 titles at launch, none of which come with the console, I’m left wondering if they will ever correct this practice. At least we have plenty of games to look forward to this Spring, assuming everything stays on schedule.
Nintendo really needs to work harder with third party publishers to explain their market. Stop looking for a target audience, and simply get the most popular games from those publishers on their platform.
Cost of Games
We live in the age of remasters and old school game collections, which is great. What isn’t so great is expecting us to pay full price for old games. When I say “old games” I mean the exact same games with no updates or new content. Lego City: Undercover is the perfect example, coming to the Nintendo Switch in Spring. So far, no new features or add ons are listed for this title and yet we’re still expected to drop $59.99 on it as if it were brand new. Why Nintendo or TT Games thinks this is a good move is lost on me, as I’m sure it is many other gamers. Hopefully, the poor sales resulting from this awful decision will steer things in a new direction.
The solution to this problem is so obvious, I feel like I’m insulting you by spelling it out. Lower the cost of these games. It’s that easy.
The best feature of the Switch is the ability to take and play it anywhere. Despite this, the poor battery life means frequently stopping to charge both the system and the JoyCon controllers. Pouring more salt in the wound is the fact that the grip bundled with the console doesn’t charge the controllers itself. Additionally, there’s no way to charge the JoyCons without connecting them to the tablet. I can only hope Nintendo finds a way to address this. Otherwise, the entire cornerstone holding the Switch together crumbles.
Nintendo strives to be unique, but there’s a point when that uniqueness crosses the line from charming to absurd. If anything, this storied company needs to take a step back and look at the rest of the industry, follow the trends, and build on their strengths. I don’t want to see the Nintendo Switch fail. I don’t want to see any console fail, for that matter. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t critically examine the flaws in each console and each company’s decisions surrounding them. Nintendo will either learn from their past mistakes and make a success out of the Switch, or it will repeat the same stupid, for lack of a better word, moves and the Switch will sink into the same niche market that the Wii U did. We’ll all have to wait until March 3rd to see if the Switch is what we’ve all been waiting for.