Nintendo Switch: Not A Change But A Consolidation

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Following Nintendo’s Thursday night presentation on the Switch, I don’t see its upcoming console as a really significant change for the company. What I see is a consolidation of just about everything Nintendo has been doing over roughly the past decade. I see aspects of the Wii, the Wii U, and the 3DS, but all refined. I’m not sure how successful Nintendo actually expects this strategy to be, whether it’s actually looking to blow up again, or just survive.

The motion control in the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers along with games like 1, 2, Switch and Arms seem like a return to the Wii years. 1, 2, Switch basically looks like Wii Sports except you don’t need a TV or living room to enjoy it. Nintendo combined the family charm of the Wii with a reversed iteration of the Wii U’s off-TV gimmick. Arms looks like Nintendo turned the boxing mini game in Wii Sports into a fuller, deeper game. Ubisoft seems to be testing these same waters with a Switch version of Just Dance. Who knows if there’s anyone left interested in this who hasn’t already moved on to mobile.

Of course Nintendo’s first party games remained as strong as ever on the Wii, Wii U, DS, and 3DS. One idea that’s been speculated on for years regarding what eventually became the Switch is the prospect of Nintendo devoting its entire first party game development bandwidth to one piece of hardware, potentially resulting in more great first party games on one platform than ever before. The Switch presentation certainly didn’t hold back on these games. Games like Xenoblade 2Splatoon 2Mario Kart 8 DeluxeThe Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Arms look to form a solid lineup. And the flagship, Super Mario Odyssey, looks like it’s trying to be the true heir to Super Mario 64.

The third party games to me mostly looked like a continuation of the third party games on the Wii U and 3DS: Square Enix RPGs, Atlus, and Koei Tecmo. I was surprised at the absence of Monster Hunter, which I imagined would be a linchpin of getting Japanese 3rd parties to eventually support the Switch. It looks like some of them will already be there at some point.

The western 3rd party lineup pretty much looks like what I thought it would — a couple bones thrown at Nintendo that make sense, Sports games potentially filling the same casual space as Just Dance. And this is the kicker: I still don’t think western consumers and western developers will really care about the Switch. What I saw in the presentation doesn’t seem like it’s going to move the pendulum when it comes to third party support — Nintendo’s biggest weakness.

Even worse as far as the western market is concerned, the Switch’s $300 price point and for-pay online gaming service put it into comparisons with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, whether Nintendo likes that or not. It’s already possible to get one of those consoles for less than $300. No one should have expected the Switch to try to draw people away from their PlayStations, Xboxes, and gaming PCs, but I also don’t think that many westerners are going to be interested in playing these deep games on the go, at least not anyone who doesn’t already own a 3DS or a Vita.

And I think that’s the whole point of what Nintendo’s trying  to do or may end up doing with the Switch. To me it looks like a grab for any part of the market lying in the margins between PlayStation and mobile.

AN ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THIS BLOG

This is probably going to be the last week I maintain my thrice-weekly post schedule for bogging. I’ve managed to keep it up for easily over a decade including my years posting on 1up.com, but life has finally gotten in the way of that. Well, life and the number of games on my plate. From here on my plan is just to update this blog at least once a week, probably on Fridays. I might still post on other days if I feel like it, but I think it’s time I made some more space in my life and redirected some brainpower.

It felt nice keeping up a schedule in a semi-professional way, but the truth is this blog doesn’t make me a dime. I do it in order to keep myself writing, because I like sharing my thoughts, and to have a base from which to advertise to anyone thinking about offering me paying gigs.

Have a nice day.

BULLETS:

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