What the Nintendo Switch Needs to Do to Be Successful in 2017

I’ve had the Nintendo Switch since launch day and so far I’m very happy with the console. I’m surprised with how much I enjoy its portability and, so far, I’ve played Breath of the Wild, Binding of Issac, Shovel Knight, and the demo of Snipperclips. Still, despite my current enthusiasm, I have some concerns with the Switch. Below I’ve explained some key points for what the Switch need to do to have a successful 2017.

Online Service has to be worth it

Nintendo has had abysmal online service since the Wii. It’s always been hard to add friends, impossible to talk to people without using secondary devices, and the actual interface always looked more barren than clean. At least it was free. Not anymore, but that will hopefully be a good thing. It has to be a good thing. Nintendo has failed at online for so long that they can’t fail with this new online service that requires payment. I’m already concerned with the “you get free game(s) like with Microsoft and Sony, but then you have to pay” feature. And the vagueness of how easy it will be to communicate with friends (can I use a Bluetooth enabled headset? Can I use a headset? Will I need/ have to use the app to talk to people?) is usually is a bad sign. Also the price worries me. Xbox Live and PS Plus are $9.99 a month. Nintendo’s service is going to be $4.99 a month. Will they still have all the bells and whistles their competitors have or will it be half the service for half the price?

The app has to be worth it

Similar to the online service, this new app has to be good. I’m not too concerned about the app. I think they’ll get it right. Also since some people just won’t want to use it (I.e they won’t play online or won’t use voice chat) I don’t feel the success or failure of the Switch will be dramatically affected by the app. Still, I hope communicating with friends will be easy, and that the rollout of the app is clear to the consumer and comes out without any bugs.

Smooth release for major exclusives

We don’t know every major exclusive that the Switch will have, but with such a small amount of games (being released periodically) they can’t afford to have any issues with their exclusives. Mario Kart 8, Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey: they have to hit on all of them.

No delays, no online issues, and of course great games. If these games flop it could be very damaging to sales, and with production of the Switch ramping up you don’t want Switches sitting on shelves with a lack of quality games.

Bundles

By holiday season the Switch has to have some bundle options. 1-2 Switch as a pack in game  would be good, Super Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild would be even better. Having a pack in game people actually want, with the console at a affordable price ($299 including the game), and great games will ensure a great holiday season.

Console availability

By the holiday season the Switch has to be available to all. No more low stock, no more refreshing Walmart’s website, no more notifications followed by strategic planning—the console must be available for everyone at all times. I believe the Switch can be a popular console, and bring the enthusiasm and popularity this company has had in the past. But if they have internet issues, problems with exclusives, bad apps, and low console availability, I genuinely believe this console can be a failure and perhaps the last Nintendo console we will ever see.

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Why the Nintendo Switch is quickly becoming my favorite console.

“It doesn’t even have any games.” “What’s the online support going to be like?” “What about the connectivity issues?” “I hear the screen can get scratched or at least, like, the black edge part around the screen.” “Dead pixels.” “Frame rate issues of the wild.” “Name a good switch game you can’t get on Wii U.”

There are a lot of reasons people may recoil after reading this title. I hear you.  I acknowledge it. Believe me, I didn’t expect this to happen either. I’m the kind of gamer who is into games first, hardware second. The difference between Xbox One and PS4? I don’t care. All that matters to me is exclusives. I bought The Switch because I want its upcoming library.  And  I thought it’d be nice to (finally) get a console on its release day. NintendoSwitchLogo.svg

But The Switch hype is real and it continues on. Its been almost two weeks since the console came out and I’m still enamored. And no, it’s not just because of Breath of the Wild here so I’ll spare you the Zelda talk (but if you’d rather not be spared you can read my latest piece on Nerd Much?: More Loot, Less Direct Combat: My Breath of the Wild Play Style).

The Switch is becoming my favorite console because the machine itself is something to talk about. And it’s fascinating in a way that’s accessible to most people, unlike the Xbox One and PS4.

Intrigue and Accessibility

I own a Xbox One and a PS4. Both are great consoles that are more powerful than The Switch and, with the PS4 Pro out and Xbox Scorpio on its way, that gap is only getting bigger. I appreciate what the Xbox One and PS4 can do but, like most gamers, I can’t talk about it at length. I’ve been playing video games since 1999; While this technology is a big part of my life, I don’t “get” how it works.

For this reason, I can’t tell you much either machines. Outside of UI differences, controller differences, etc  all I can tell you is they play games. They have some exclusives but outside of that they’re just boxes to me. Boxes I love and have fond memories with, boxes you couldn’t pay me to enough to ever trade in, but boxes nevertheless. The Switch is different.

The Switch is something I can talk about and enjoy. When it comes to the technical side, I can’t explain how The Switch works any more than I can explain the PS4 or Xbox One; however, the Switch gives me more “surface level” things to talk about. I can be amazed at the seamless transition between docked TV mode and handheld mode. I can show off and (on a basic level) explain table top mode. I can discuss the merits of the joy-con grip vs the pro controller.

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The Switch is fun AS a console. At its worst its a novelty and at its best it changes my entire gaming experience.

This is what I mean when I say The Switch is intriguing in a way that’s more obvious (and thus accessible) than the other consoles of this gen.

Usually when a game is available on all the platforms I default to Xbox One because I love   that controller; now my default is The Switch because I can go from TV to handheld and because table top mode is surprisingly comfortable. It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s different. While other consoles go for sleeker and more powerful versions of what came before, Nintendo goes experimental. The results always vary but The Switch gets it right. The enjoyment I get from my Xbox One and my PS4 comes from the games they offer; but my love of  The Switch is most firmly rooted in the variety the console offers. Call it a gimmick if you want but I love going from exploring Hyrule on the big screen in my living room to playing some Shovel Knight, in handheld mode, right before bed.

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It’s a piece of tech I can geek out about even if I can’t explain the intricacies of HD Rumble.

Cold Hard Facts: If You Haven’t Been Doing Local Multiplayer The Nintendo Switch isn’t Going to Change That.

Lately, I’ve been seeing articles and comment threads praising the Nintendo Switch for potentially resurrecting local multiplayer. There’s no denying that the marketing is there to highlight this idea: the joy-con controllers can be played by 2 people and it’s not a rooftop party until Karen comes over.

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The Nintendo Switch is all about gaming everywhere with everyone (in whatever set-up you prefer, from table top style to a traditional home console set up).

The “resurrection of local multiplayer” is a narrative that’s being constructed for several valid reasons but it’s one that, ultimately, doesn’t hold up.

Continue reading “Cold Hard Facts: If You Haven’t Been Doing Local Multiplayer The Nintendo Switch isn’t Going to Change That.”