Following last week’s Nintendo Switch Presentation, much of the buzz for Nintendo’s upcoming console/handheld hybrid has been replaced with sheer bewilderment… and rightfully so. There are many reasons to hate on the Switch right now. It’s expensive, the hardware specs are underwhelming, the launch lineup is weak, the handheld’s battery life isn’t great and the smartphone required online chat/lobby service (which will require a paid subscription to use) is nothing short of a joke!
With all of that in mind, I still pre-ordered the system on day one and – in what is probably just an attempt to justify my purchase – I’ve conjured up a few different reasons as to why the Nintendo Switch isn’t a complete disaster… at least not yet.
1) The Launch Price Isn’t As High As You Think
Is The Nintendo Switch expensive? Yes, yes it is. Especially when you factor in peripherals such as the $70 Pro Controller. But let’s be honest, most console launch prices are high. I could go back to the 80’s and compare console prices (adjusted for inflation) to prove that the Switch’s launch price is comparatively low but I think some more recent comparisons would be more helpful. The Nintendo Switch will launch in the United States and Kingdom on March 3rd for $299 and £279 respectively. Given the current state of the British Pound, Nintendo could have easily charged £299 for the Switch in the UK so kudos to them for that I guess.
Back in 2011, the Nintendo 3DS launched for $249/£229 – just 50 dollars/pounds less than the Switch. Of course the huge caveat here is that Nintendo quickly reduced the price by over 30% and compensated early adopters with a slew of free games so maybe this isn’t the best example to lead with.
One year later the Playstation Vita shared the 3DS’ initial launch price and the 3G model was priced inline with the Nintendo Switch. I think we can all agree that the Nintendo Switch is a more compelling prospect than the 3G-enabled Playstation Vita!
In 2012, the basic Wii U model was priced similarly to the Nintendo Switch with the price of Deluxe version being $50/£50 higher. The Playstation 4 and Xbox One both launched in the Fall of 2013 and were priced at $399 (£350) and $499 (£429!!!) respectively. Of course one could make the argument that both the PS4 and Xbox One used relatively cutting edge technology at the time of their released whereas the Switch is severely underpowered at launch but it’s important to note that what the Switch lacks in power, it more than makes up for in portability.
Finally, the PlayStation VR headset (a peripheral for the PlayStation 4) was released just a few months ago for $399/£350 and has been virtually sold-out (see what I did there?) ever since.
With the above prices in mind, suddenly the Nintendo Switch’s launch price doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, even without inflation adjustments, it is still the cheapest major console launch in over a decade.
2) You Can Play It Anywhere!
As someone who often brings his Wii U to work for cheeky games of Mario Kart at my desk, I am super excited about the portability aspects of the Switch. Let me tell you, having to commute to and from work with the Wii U console along with its tablet-sized gamepad and bulky power brick (plus an external harddrive where my games are stored) is no fun! However, with the Nintendo Switch I could simply lift the device from its dock and pop it in my bag – That’s it! Additionally as the Switch charges via USB-C, users will be able to purchase inexpensive power banks and/or additional chargers which makes travelling with the Switch even more convenient.
Many people have expressed dissatisfaction with the system’s 2.5 – 6 hour battery life but this is more to do with the current state of battery technology rather than poor design. Sure it would be great if the Switch allowed for 18 hour gaming session on a single charge but that just isn’t practical. I currently own an iPhone 6S Plus and while the battery may last a full day if I use it conservatively, I’m pretty confident that it would not be able to run a game as taxing as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for anywhere close to 2.5 hours.
Moving on to more comparable devices, the latest model of the Nintendo 3DS boasts a 3.5 – 6 hour battery life as does the latest iteration of the PlayStation Vita. Of course, real world tests may tell a completely different story but for now the Switch’s battery life is pretty decent especially considering how beautiful games such as Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 look and perform on the system.
3) Handheld Games Will Finally Grow Up
With 60 million units sold, the success of the 3DS means Nintendo’s dual screened dinosaur will be sticking around for many more years to come. However if the Switch can manage to gain a similar or greater level of success, games that would traditionally only appear on Nintendo’s handheld devices would most likely receive drastic makeovers in the future. The additional hardware power afforded by the Switch could revolutionize popular franchises such as Pokemon, Professor Layton and Ace Attorney, meaning we could finally see the Skyrim-sized Pokemon game that we’ve always dreamed of.
But with a bigger scope comes a bigger budget and if Switch owners become too accustomed to playing larger games on the go, it could make it harder smaller teams and independent developers to find success on the Switch. Could this spell the end for games such as Pushmo and Box-Boy or can these smaller titles still strive on the Switch’s eShop? The abundance of successful indie games on Steam and PSN suggest the latter.
4) Most Importanly… It’s Nintendo
By far, the most compelling reason to buy a Switch is simply because Nintendo’s name is on the box. When the next Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Smash Bros and Mario Kart games are released we’re all going to want to play them, and the only place to do so will most likely be on the Nintendo Switch. Third parties developers may not be putting their best foot forward as of yet (see Rayman Orgins, FIFA and Ultra Street Fighter II for examples) but Nintendo will definitely bring their big guns out to protect their turf. The truth is, Nitnendo does not need multi-platform games to be successful. The Wii did just fine without Grand Theft Auto.
Recently Nintendo has shown a wiliness to license out their IP’s to other developers and if this trend continues going forward it could lead to a truly phenomenal software line-up for the Switch. Imagine a traditional Metroid game developed by WayForward? Or a episodic Telltale adventure set in the Mushroom Kingdom? Or even a special edition of Rocket League featuring an assortment of Nintendo characters, appropriately themed levels and special items thrown in to spice things up? If Nintendo are willing to pimp our their properties it could be a potential game changer for the industry. This is all hypothetical so I don’t want to dwell on it too much but it just goes to show that Nintendo could easily survive without the next big-budget Destiny or Mass Effect games on their platform.
Sega has essentially let fans develop the next Sonic game and as a result, Sonic Mania looks set to be the best Sonic game released in decades. Take notes Ninty!
Nintendo has given us many reason to be down on the Switch and fact that we are just 6 weeks away from launch but still have so many questions is worrisome but don’t let forums fool you, Nintendo is far from doomed. There are still several reasons to be excited for future of Nintendo as we approach the releases of their most ambivalent console to-date. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be hiding under my desk playing Splatoon.