Editorials Mobile Nintendo

Will The Nintendo Switch Have An Impact On Mobile Gaming And Downloads?

Nintendo’s new Switch console seems set for success. This is something that will be a relief to the gaming giant after its predecessor, the Wii U, failed to gain much in the way of fans or sales. This raises the question of whether other companies in mobile gaming will see Nintendo as a new threat.

According to a recent report in the UK’s Daily Mirror, the Switch has sold nearly 3 million units. Nintendo confidently predict 10 million sales by March 2018. This seems quite achievable, especially considering that the console hasn’t yet been available over a holiday season. In addition, Super Mario Odyssey, arguably the console’s biggest first-party title, comes out just in time for those seasonal sales.

How the Switch is Unique

It’s interesting to ponder exactly what it is about the Switch that has led it to find success where the Wii U faltered, especially when one considers the similarities between the consoles. Both have similar hardware specifications, similar games, and a two-screen configuration. But the key differences that do exist are vast.

The first is the marketing. Nintendo committed a grave error in naming their last console after the one that came before it. Many people thought the Wii U was merely an upgrade for the Wii. Everyone knows the Switch is something shiny and new, complete with a snappy advertising campaign to back this up.

The second (and most important) reason is that this time around, that touchscreen controller is a genuine portable gaming system – and not something that only works within meters of the console base.

Mobile Gaming

Nintendo has always lead the market in mobile gaming. The 3DS range accounts for over 7 million sales every year. However, this Switch really is something different.

It puts current generation living-room quality gaming in the palm of the hand – something that’s never really been done before. Being able to play the latest Zelda and Mario titles whilst on the move really is a game changer – quite literally! It’s therefore reasonable to wonder if the Switch could change the mobile gaming landscape, perhaps impacting on the popularity of mobile gaming and app downloads.

Why it’s Unlikely the Switch will Harm Existing Mobile Games

Despite what may seem like incredible sales figures, it’s worth keeping things in perspective. Even if the Switch sells its 10 million units by next year, let’s remember that the iPhone alone sells in quantities of over 200 million per year. That’s without considering Android phones, iPads and tablets. This means that however popular the Switch is, it’s still dwarfed by the popularity of other mobile devices.

It’s also wise to consider what the Switch isn’t. It’s not actually a platform for the kind of casual mobile gaming many people now regularly enjoy. Some types of games lend themselves more readily to a device that’s constantly in your pocket, such as:

– Puzzle games, such as Candy Crush, which are popular with many people who wouldn’t normally consider themselves “gamers” in any way.

– Multiplayer games such as Word with Friends that are played on an ongoing basis, and can be interacted with during tiny moments of free time – even in supermarket queues!

– Mobile casino games, lottery draws and other similar online games offered by the likes of Lottoland. Many people regularly enter lotteries, spin slot machines and scrub electronic scratch cards on their mobile devices. There’s very little chance such games will appear on the Switch.

Perhaps most significantly, this is not a console that’s suddenly going to convert non-gamers into people willing to pay $60 per game!  

What seems more likely is that it’s a device people will choose to have in addition to their existing devices. After all, a Nintendo Switch simply isn’t an alternative to a smartphone.

The 3DS was never a threat to the core mobile gaming industry, so it’s unlikely the Switch will be either. The number of apps downloaded each year (many of them games) continues to rise. It’s going to take more than a successful games console to change that.

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