The Nintendo Switch presentation took place in the early hours of yesterday morning setting the Internet alight with reactions in the hours after. Pre-orders also went live yesterday and hands on sessions have taken place. It’s now just over 24 hours since the presentation and I find myself in a decent position to write down my thoughts and impressions on Nintendo’s new revolutionary console.
Though many have already shared their views, and my Twitter feed – like many others – is a good example of this, further reading has lead me to find myself sitting on the fence about the Nintendo Switch. Though its beautiful design and stunning trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild blew me away, Nintendo still makes me feel uneasy about the Switch due to some of their frankly poor decisions. It is these very decisions that I want to take the time to explore.
Let me be frank: The launch line up for the Nintendo Switch is poor. Yes, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an amazing game to release along the Switch, but it feels like Nintendo is betting all of its chips on Zelda shifting Switch units on day one. Of course, without a doubt it will shift units, beyond that though Nintendo did not announce many other games to release alongside the Switch on March 3. Some of the bigger titles that were announced, including Skyrim and Splatoon 2, won’t be out until later on in the year.
The real issue though is that The Legend of Zelda will also release on the Wii U at the same time as the Switch version. The concern for me is that there may be a high number of users that side step on grabbing a Switch on day one and go for the Wii U version, which would be a much smaller purchase than around £300 for the console and game. The hardcore fans will of course get their hands on with the Switch on day one and that is fine, however, those early adoption numbers of the Switch will have an impact on something much greater: Third-party support.
Looking back at past mistakes you’ll recall that the Wii U had a lack of major third party launch titles. With the Switch we will see the likes of Skyrim, FIFA, and Steep, but is that really enough at this point to secure more adoption numbers, especially this early on? In my opinion what Nintendo should have done was revealed, or at least announced, more third party launch titles. Currently, all we have on March 3, when the console launches is 1-2-Switch, Just Dance 2017, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Skylanders: Imaginators, and Super Bomberman R.
In terms of their third-party line up it is pretty nice, games like Project Octopath Traveller definitely caught my attention, at the same time the first party titles they did announce were definitely fun and exciting. However, the major titles are not coming until the second half of the year meaning Nintendo are putting a lot on The Legend of Zelda and their otherwise weak launch line up (in terms of number of games, not quality of said games).
In addition to the launch line-up woes, there’s one more matter that might cost the Switch dearly: The price of the games and the console itself. For example, one of the more interesting games shown off during the Switch presentation was 1-2-Switch, a party game that takes the Joy-Con Controllers and creates a number of interesting mini games from drawing pistols at dawn, to milking a cow. Though silly and short they seem engaging and make good use of the technology found within Switch. Sadly, this game is not bundled with the Switch much like how Wii Sports was with the Wii, instead it is a separate £39.99 purchase for 1-2-Switch on top of the £279.99 cost of console.
At the time of writing there seem to be no official bundles for the Nintendo Switch, and most games are priced at £59.99, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The price of Skyrim, a five-year-old game, is £59.99 as well. These high price points bring the games up to the same RRP as Xbox One and PlayStation 4 games. It will surely change in time but for an initial impression it is somewhat worrying. The cost of entry for the Switch is reasonable but the cost of entry for games is what might once again cost the Switch. Let’s not even mention the high price of the accessories.
Furthermore, the Nintendo Switch will not feature the Miiverse or StreetPass. This makes sense given that the Switch is predominantly a home console and not a handheld but it feels like a mistake, especially considering you can take the Switch with you if you wanted to. When I think back to my Nintendo 3DS I know that I can always fall back onto StreetPass for a quick burst of game time. If this was to be included in the Switch software, it would be a nice little additional that would add value for money. Sure, a full game would be better, but having a smaller minigame style game packed in would be better than nothing.
It feels like Nintendo have played a bad hand here, honestly. Though it is still early days given how recent the announcements were, there is not much time for Nintendo to correct it. Set for a March 3 release date, Nintendo have left little to no room to handle damage control. Now I’m not saying the Switch is in danger because let’s be honest, it’s not. The Legend of Zelda and the excitement of the Switch alone will see it sell, but is it enough? With a lack of software and a pricing strategy that is worrying, Nintendo have revealed the Switch in an awkward way. It is exciting and like many others I do want one as soon as I can but these finer details hold me back.
This is not to say the Nintendo Switch is not an interesting and otherwise brilliant looking console. Everything about the hardware that Nintendo showed off has me fully engaged and wanting to know and see more. The Joy-Con controls, though small in size, appear to be large with features and gameplay opportunities. The core concept of Switching – pun intended – from home console to portable mode is a solid function. It works, makes sense and thanks to the charging over USB means the Switch generally has life on the road. Though the battery life is not amazing it is reasonable given what the Switch is outputting. The Switch may have seen odd at first but after the recent presentation Nintendo have shown that the concept works.
I did not believe in the Nintendo Switch when it was first revealed. The concept did not sit well with me. Now however Nintendo have me on the edge of my seat ready to buy and engage in the concept and the console. But due to the decisions on the launch line up and price I find myself on the fence. It may seem like a small issue but in reality, they create a canyon sized gap of concern and second thinking. Many will dive head first in and that is completely fine. For those who have concerns like me however we have to wait and see. Nintendo are taking a gamble with the hand they have played and consumers risk losing out on this gamble.
The Nintendo Switch is out March 3 along with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and a handful of other launch titles. As we get closer to its release you can expect to see more about both the console and its games here at n3rdabl3.