It’s Friday the 13th so brace yourself, this post is going to be bloody. Last night, Nintendo released new details on the console nobody needs or wants the Wii U 2.
Oh, wait, I mean the Nintendo Switch – it’s hard to call the switch a console… it’s more like a collection of hardware.. There’s some control pieces, a dock thing, a tablet with an obsolete display, some wires, etc.
All these wacky pieces of hardware add up to Nintendo trying to solve it’s internally identified problem of separate home and mobile hardware. There’s just one issue, this isn’t a problem for their target audience or really any audience. Maybe this was a problem in 2006 prior to smartphone and tablet saturation. And if you could travel back in time 10 years and release the Switch then it would have been a blockbuster success. Today nearly 70 percent of children under the age of 8 years old have a smartphone (source). The only real issue is playing Nintendo’s properties on the go… oh wait the 2DS and the 3DS.
So if kids are getting smartphones at younger and younger ages and those who want Mario on the go already have portable consoles, AND we’ve proven the whole console tablet thing didn’t work with the Wii U – where does the Nintendo Switch fit in? It doesn’t. It doesn’t fit into the product category well and it’s controllers don’t fit in your hands well:
More importantly, it represents a complete disconnect with the gaming community and a giant missed opportunity combining 4K gaming with Nintendo’s properties on smartphones in a meaningful way. This should have been a layup for Nintendo.
Here’s what the Switch should have been:
1. 4K Console – A 4K gaming console with modern console specs. I’ve heard the argument that competing on processing power and graphics is a losing battle. Yes, if you compete solely on these factors it is but Nintendo can please consumers and leverage their properties. Nintendo has underestimated the number of former NES, Super Nintendo, and Nintendo 64 gamers who would happily come back to Nintendo if the Wii U or the Switch had been up to snuff in the spec dept.
2. Device Cases – What better way to reinforce the name switch than to allow players to ‘switch’ their game play over to iOS and/or Android. When I’m out and about I just slide the Joycons on to the left and right sides of my iOS device which is snugly protected in it’s special Nintendo Switch case and now I’m calling home to my console to play my games.
3. Online Service – Nintendo announced an online service that would be free initially with a subscription to come later. This exact same scenario played out with the Wii U when it launched in 2012 (see here). It’s very difficult to charge for something you’ve made free for a while and Nintendo should brace itself for the forthcoming backlash. Do I want to pay another subscription gaming fee? No, of course not but I do believe if Nintendo was generating revenue from their online service they’d be much more likely to invest in it, maintain it, make it better, etc.
4. Classic Gaming Included – There is mixed information right now about whether classic gaming is included with the online subscription but if you look at this chart it doesn’t list that… it lists a monthly game download but that’s it. Given fans have paid for Mario multiple times, across multiple decades, over multiple systems they should absolutely include several free classic titles. Unless they plan to allow users to transfer all their purchases natively. Not like the Wii U where you had to go through hoops to transfer content and then everything ran in a weird emulator. Stop nickel and diming your most loyal fans.
No, Nintendo isn’t going out of business. They’re properties and ability to create the best gaming experience is what makes them great. They’ll figure this out long before they go bust and leverage their properties across multiple platforms. As a huge Nintendo fan I’m extremely tempted to pre-order the system. Extremely tempted to the point that it was in the cart on Target.com ready to go but I just can’t bring myself to spend around $400 for what looks like a Super Wii U. I have no need to be an early adopter of old technology. There is no doubt that at some point I’ll own a Nintendo Switch but it probably won’t be until around Christmas or sometime in 2018 when they’re forced to drop the price to $199 and include a game.
UPDATE: Just realized the Mario Kart title being released isn’t an all new game. SMH. What is life.