Hoorah! Is this Nintendo returning from the shadows with the next big console? Kinda. The Switch has many gamers excited, myself included, but there is a plethora of those perpetuating hate against the system.
There are loads of issues with the console, but it seems as most aren’t noticing the real bugbears with the system. In fact, most issues I constantly see in comments and on forums are the same as what plagued the PS4 and Xbox One, more so on their part. Still, it’s worth looking at the real issues that could kill the Switch and the ones that aren’t as bad as expected.
The Real Issues
Even though there are those that prefer single player experiences, it’s no secret that online functionality can be crucial for the functioning of a console. Nintendo has always been miles behind in this regard, with the Wii U being about as close as they could get to their competitors.
The Switch was announced to have an improved online component. Although it isn’t confirmed or tested yet, the service sounds dreadful. Online lobbies and voice chat are present, but not through the console. No, that would be too convenient. Instead, you’ll have to use a separate smart device, such as a phone, to use certain online features. This may be due to the power of the unit, but even the original Xbox outdid this measly attempt.
Nintendo also announced free games for subscribers, but they even dropped the ball here. A free NES and SNES (with online multiplayer component) each month, but the games disappear after the month is over. That type of nonsense has absolutely nothing on the PSPlus or Games with Gold offerings.
The real issue here, however, is that online games like Splatoon 2, FIFA, and the Switch’s answer to Call of Duty will suffer. If these underperform, publishers won’t put their games on the system, which includes AAA third party releases. The less of these games, the
If these underperform, publishers won’t put their games on the system, which includes AAA third party releases. The less of these games, the less customers for the console and the more likely people will stick with other consoles. It’s in its early days right now, but this could do some lasting damage.
When I saw the specs for the console, I didn’t wince at the power or resolution like others did, it’s not a large enough difference to cause an issue. The 32GB of internal storage however, is.
The first problem is that the system won’t have much room for downloadable titles and AAA titles are pretty much impossible to store now. This can be rectified easily as the memory is upgradeable by a small degree and these downloads can be optional, although it will deter larger games from being on the system.
The bigger gripe is the fact that large publishers won’t be able to patch their games in an era when this is standard practice. Games such as those published by EA, Activision, and Ubisoft will cease to function on the console if patches are too large to implement. Compiled with large game updates, the struggle will only worsen.
I can buy a 32GB Micro SD (which the system uses) for under £10. Cheaping out on this memory could be dangerous.
It’s currently confirmed that the Switch has ”over 80” games in development from all sorts of developers. Those who remember the Wii U launch will remember a similar sentiment in the marketing. Games such as Metro Last Light, Ghost Recon Online, and Colonial Marines were all noted as upcoming releases complete with footage. That never happened, along with all the other confirmed efforts of other publishers. This is likely the same with the Switch, and I would wager that many of these confirmed developers are currently just thinking of ideas for the system since even Suda51 came on stage with that exact rhetoric.
Third parties make and break systems due to how few people can afford a £280 system for just Nintendo IPs. Sony and Microsoft made it comfortable to develop for their systems, the latter even changed their initial console ethos to do so. By stunting the online and storage, Nintendo just add barriers for these third-party games. Once these start to dry up, so will the console.
Despite printing money for the company, the Wii did serve as a perception change for Nintendo. Fans moved on to other systems whilst Nintendo pumped out dreadful ideas (think back to Wii Music). The 3DS burned many customers with an expensive launch price and an initial drought of games, all culminating in a swift price drop, punishing the true Nintendo fans.
The Wii U acted similar, but even more calamitous. Right now the Wii U still feels incomplete, as if it was an experimental prototype for the Nintendo Switch. It had a decent library of games, but only a few stood out, even with their own franchises. All this did was drive fans toward competing consoles.
Brand loyalty can be fickle, and Nintendo has somehow chipped away at one of the strongest company fan bases in history. This goes the opposite for Sony, who have ditched the corporate aesthetic and switched to a company ethos that cares for its customers. The latest Playstaton experience was a reminder of this, with so much adoration for the fans. This rivalled even Nintendo Direct in terms of fan interaction.
The more Nintendo pushes away fans, the more they will be sucked into another fan base and the more those customers will stay there. This goes true for myself. I love Nintendo to a scary degree, but even I know that my tastes and requirements are better catered to by the Playstation.
Nintendo is treading on eggshells at this point, and they need to make sure that what they put out isn’t just exciting enough to bring fans back, but also quality enough to keep them there.
The Lesser Issues and Double Standards
Let’s start with the main dilemma gamers are having, the console’s power. The Switch is currently looking to run on a lesser Nvidia Tegra, which puts the console between a Wii U and the PS4, of which it fails to achieve the fidelity of the latter.
Give this some thought for a second; Nintendo have not competed on power, or attempted to do so in a long time. The Wii was an admitted misstep in this regard and Miyamoto even admitted that, but the lack of HD did help it become a surefire success through a lower price point.
The Wii U went the opposite way and looked at creating a different gameplay experience, rather than just have a powerful output. It’s all about the gameplay experience first, which this console embodies.
The real crux is how easy it is for current gen games to be ported to the system. The Wii had a massive difference in power, so many games were often stripped bare for the system or just omitted.
Since the system uses an Integra, which is on par with what some current gen games have used, it might not be too difficult for games to be ported to the Switch. The fact the Switch now uses a standard form of control will further aid this.
The largest complaint by far. Pricing can make or break a console launch and even its manufacturer, just look at the 3DO for evidence. $299 US is set to be the price we get, with Brexit inspired currency conversions landing it at the £280 price point in the UK.
The thing is, adjusting for inflation, the Switch is actually one of the lowest priced consoles in history. The internet seems to think that Nintendo should charge $200 just because it doesn’t have the power of a PS4, despite the Switch arriving with a tablet. The weird thing is, the PS4 and Xbox One came in at rather high prices at launch, the latter costing £429.99 without a game. This doesn’t mean Nintendo has the right price, but the response seems to assume that Nintendo have to charge less for being Nintendo. Maybe the Wii and its price point shot the company in the foot, securing its perception as the cheaper alternative.
Then we come to the price of its games — $60 in the US and £60 in the UK. With the US pricing, this is standard. AAA games are typically $60 on release. ARMS, at least from reports, seems to justify the price point, though Nintendo may find it difficult to justify the $50 price tag.
In the UK, this is a different story, with the £60 price tag being significantly more than the average price of £40 normally attributed to new releases. As someone who worked in a game shop during the PS4 and Xbox One launch, this is common for new releases on a new console. Both of these consoles charged £54.99–60.00 on average during the launch window period, which included even the insignificant ports of current multi-platform games.
This also happened with the PS2 and Xbox 360 at launch. It’s common practice and typically used as a way for retailers (who set the price) to capitalise and extort early adopters and those taken in by the buzz. This then decreases over time, with AAA releases hitting shelves at the typical £3545.00 price point. It’s highly likely that this price will decrease before launch, with UK retailer GAME rumoured to be stating that this is a precautionary strategy before they understand the demand and full costs attributed to each item.
This isn’t certain, but it’s likely that we’ll see this price point drop quickly. What may be an issue however, is the precedent set to other publishers beforehand. The Switch has already confirmed many re-releases and ports for the system, which are set at full price. These are games like Lego City Undercover and Skyrim, games which need to be priced low to compete with their releases on other systems and provide substance for gamers between new AAA releases.
As for peripherals, these are a different story. The JoyCon controllers seem accurately priced when considering just how much these things contain. HD rumble jokes aside, various streams and videos have shown how robust and responsive the controllers are. They are priced around the same price as PS4/Xbone controllers in the US. Different story for UK gamers, which makes the JoyCon controllers appear ludicrously overpriced. Just don’t go losing one of them.
The Pro Controller is a prime worry, as it seems to lack the quality of the JoyCon but sit at the same price. This is what most gamers have commented on, with it being one of the main points against the Switch.
Can the Switch succeed?
It seems as though many gamers don’t understand the underlying issues and are concentrating on issues that likely won’t even effect the system enough to cause damage.
It’s possible for the Switch to actually do well, but it all hinges on the level of user experience and how well they bring in third party developers. The Wii performed well in terms of its games, with plenty of unique, third party titles that weren’t even multiplatform. The Wii U failed massively in this aspect and it was reported that the console was notoriously hard to develop for, making porting difficult and costly.
Nintendo have to take a look at what their consumers want also. It’s been evident for a while that Nintendo makes what they think is best and not listening to fan demand, which leads to games like Star Fox Zero and the shunning of Metroid. Gamers want these games and bringing out more Mario Party games won’t help that issue. Sony recently figured this out, with E3 2015 proving they want to make their fans happy enough to fork over cash. Sadly, I’m not sure if Nintendo have truly figured this out, but time will tell.
The Switch isn’t out yet and there are still three months for things to either change or become clearer, but there is definitely a need to rethink certain aspects of the console to get the customers on their side.