On January 13, 2017, a press conference was held in Tokyo for the Nintendo Switch that set the internet ablaze with lofty acclamations and heavy criticisms for the yet-to-be-released console.
And after watching the conference in full, I’ll tell you what- my heart is torn.
For me, the name “Nintendo” comes with a good deal of sentimental attachment. My very first gaming experience was on a SNES at a neighbor’s house when I was five years old. The N64 is the first console I ever owned. I actually cried from happiness when my parents bought me a GameCube for Christmas. Nintendo was the company that solidified my passion for gaming in my elementary and early middle school years.
But all the buzz around the potential success or failure Nintendo Switch has made me do some reflecting.
I had originally thought that Nintendo started going “off the tracks” in the 7th generation, but in actuality Nintendo started bucking the system as early as the N64. A.K Rahming of Nintendo Enthusiast writes,
“The Nintendo 64’s use of cartridges instead of CD-ROMs was the Big N’s first act of industry defiance, and since then, the company has gradually become more and more out of sync. The Wii’s success may have pumped a considerable amount of money into Nintendo’s bank account, but it came at the cost of completely throwing Nintendo out of the loop.”
In addition to Nintendo’s history of hardware divergence, there are other uphill battles the Switch will be fighting. One of its biggest critiques is it’s small game selection. While the PS4 offers 866 games and XBOX One S offers about 500, the Nintendo Switch will offer only 55 games, promising that 80 are in development. Similarly, a recent Forbes article contends that the Switch’s layers of hidden expenses are surfacing as a legitimate concern.
I really do want the Nintendo Switch to do well… But if history is any indication then I suspect it’s fate will be similar to the Wii. Initially, the masses will be attracted to the uniqueness of a product that offers multiplayer gaming mobility and a brief honeymoon period will follow. However once the excitement of a “new and different” console wears off, gamers will return to their consoles that offer a more games, more storage, and better multiplayer options for a lower price tag.
For the sake of the future of Nintendo as a company, let’s hope I’m wrong.