It’s been almost a year since the Nintendo Switch was officially announced via it’s trailer back in October of last year. Initially, a lot of people doubted Nintendo’s approach of releasing a hybrid system (one that acts as both a portable and a home console) over a traditional one like the PS4/XB1 – especially after the commercial flop that was the Wii U; in the current gen era where devs try to push for high graphical fidelity and 4K, it definitely seemed to be a strange move on Nintendo’s part.
Not long after, the system’s specs were made public which set the Switch between last and current gen in terms of power, many were convinced that it would fizzle out soon after release and end up just like the Wii U – an unpopular gimmick with little third party support due to it’s “underpowered” hardware.
Now it’s been 6 and a half months since the system launched (in March), and I’d say these 6 months were enough to prove the naysayers wrong; let’s see the how and why:
1. Popularity, Marketing and Strategy:
If anything, Nintendo perfectly nailed these aspects on the head. They were smart to stray away from the (unjustified) stigma of the “Wii” brand and start from scratch with the NX (the Switch’s code-name). Unlike the Wii U, the Switch has a clear motto: console quality gaming wherever you want; plus the advertisements are aimed towards core gamers and also promote social gaming interaction thanks to the Switch’s portable aspect.
Of course these weren’t just limited to TVCs; Nintendo’s pushing hard to turn the Switch into a household name: from promotions with popular stars, such as WWE’s John Cena and at large events like the Super Bowl to advertising on consumable products like Lays – and they still haven’t slowed down.
This has worked favorably for the Big N: the Switch is a very popular product right now and demand is exceeding supply – in Japan, people have to wait for hours in tediously long lines to grab a Switch. Crazy, right?
As for the game release strategy, Nintendo is on the right track too: with already released games like Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Splatoon 2 and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and upcoming ones like Super Mario Odyssey, Fire Emblem Warriors and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the Switch has a better lineup of exclusive games in just its first year than the PS4/XB1 did, and 2018 promises to be even better.
2. Switch’s Hybrid Nature, A Gimmick?:
To be frank, no it’s not. The Switch delivers on it’s promise of being a great portable home console. It offers the small size and comfort of a portable device and the high-quality visuals of a home console, all into one nifty package.
Of course it’s not entirely flawless either: compromises have to be made to scale down certain games from other consoles to Switch however so far, the quality of ports has been good enough (ignoring the handful of rushed ports). It’s also still lacking when it comes to features such as a robust online infrastructure, apps and achievements, but there’s still plenty of time for improvement.
3. Third party support:
This time, it’s a complete 180 from the Wii U; thanks to easy to develop for hardware, cheap dev kits ($500 vs $2000 for Wii U and PS4) and a truckload of hype, the Switch has garnered a significant amount of developer support, especially indie developers.
Every major Japanese developer has something in the works right now for Switch – from Square Enix to FromSoftware. Western publishers like EA and 2K are bringing out their sports titles and even Rockstar and Bethesda – two publishers who’ve so far been quite vary of releasing their games on a Nintendo system – can’t ignore the Switch, since they’re bringing some of their biggest games to the system: LA Noire from the former; The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, DOOM and Wolfenstien II: The New Collosus from the latter; the last two games were big surprises and this gesture notifies other devs that it’s time to stop making excuses from bringing their games over and step up their game (*looks at Capcom*).
4. Lack Of Power Compared To PS4/XB1:
This is not really an issue as EA and 2K have demonstrated: each of their games have been custom built for Switch from the ground up so as to make the most out of the hardware with as few compromises as possible. And the results are great so far: FIFA 18 and NBA 2K18 on Switch both hold up very well compared to the PS4/XB1 versions, despite slight compromises (like the lack of Journey mode in FIFA 18 and NBA 2K18 running at 30 FPS). And the portability of the Switch is a big enough incentive to make people look over these tidbits; after all, a console quality experience on the go is too sweet of a deal to ignore, despite a few caveats.
If devs continue to make smart use of the provided hardware, I think the Switch will do just fine. It may not be as powerful as PS4/XB1, but it doesn’t need to be, as long as the games are of good quality; it’s a very different beast in both demographic and execution after all.
Now that’s not to say Switch will continue to perform well; nobody knows that for sure. However, considering that the Switch has pretty much everything right now – support from both fans and devs, strong sales, good lineup of current and upcoming games – the future for Nintendo’s little machine seems to be pretty bright. Let’s hope it continues that way.