Yo mic check, mic check, yeah here you go.
I heard he got that hot new thing. It’s called “Switch“.
Let’s get it going.
When the day finally arrives where I can no longer reference Will Smith, so does the day I stop writing. Period.
The Nintendo Switch has been big news for the past few weeks. Ever since it was first announced back in October 2016, I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about it. I’ve put it off for so long that we’ve actually had an official presentation event that’s given us some further insight into 2017’s highly anticipated console. Nintendo hosted their Switch presentation in January and dropped some key details regarding its new flagship device.
Firstly though, if you missed the reveal trailer, you should certainly check it out and understand what all the hype was about…
My first thought upon watching that cute little trailer was “Ok, what I just saw was a mobile device that can play Skyrim. I’m sold.” but I’ve had plenty of time to stew since then, and I might have actually changed my mind.
It’s been a solid three months since the initial reveal in October; and my post-trailer boner has finally died down. The information that was announced earlier this month may have hung it loosely for good though, as I’m somewhat disappointed.
Nintendo has said it will release its long-awaited new console, the Nintendo Switch, on 3rd March. It will cost $299.99 in the US, £279.99 in the UK and 29,980 yen ($260) in Japan, which is more than what most had been expecting. As was I and I’m really surprised to see it above the $250/£230 mark. As such, Nintendo’s share price took a bit of a hit, but I’d imagine that their stocks were still rather high from last year’s mobile ventures, namely the success from Pokemon GO and Super Mario Run. I’m not going to pretend that I know about stocks and shares or that they interest me, because they don’t. Honestly, all I know is what Lester from GTAV has taught me. Considering that you can now get an Xbox One or PS4 with a bundled game (or two!) for less than a Switch, this doesn’t look like great value for money. Not only that, but the internal workings of the Switch are a long way away from matching the power and storage of their console rivals, which I think is a major factor in the general surprise that people had in terms of the costing. What you’re paying for is the portable functionality and that’s essentially it.
I didn’t watch the presentation myself, but I’ve picked up the gist of it from general net browsing and hilarious Twitter rants. Initially, there was some negative reaction online to the pricing of the console’s accessories. A Pro Controller, in the style of a traditional console controller, costs $69.99 (£57.50), additional Joy-Con controllers are $79.99 and a spare dock to use the Switch with another TV or monitor is $89.99.
Being affordable has been key to Nintendo’s past successes. Previous consoles have always been well received in terms of launch price, with the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64 and the GameCube all releasing at less than $200. Of course, we have inflation and economic recessions to thank for increasingly higher living costs, but Nintendo have always managed to vastly undercut their console rivals. Even the Wii, although a tad more expensive at $250, was still cheaper than the Xbox 360 and PS3. It’s not just home consoles that fared well with the price popularity, the handheld consoles were always temptingly cheap too. So with the Switch being similarly priced to an Xbox One S or a PlayStation 4 Slim, it doesn’t really meet tradition. Certainly, if I was looking to move from a 7th generation console to an 8th, the Switch would likely be my last choice.
Nintendo have got a huge mountain to climb if they want to catch up with their home console counter-parts. The Playstation 4 and Xbox One have been largely successful whist the Wii U slumped massively. Personally, I think this will be the final console Nintendo release and that’s a real shame. My true fear is that their focus will quickly turn to mobile and tablet applications, it seems inevitable. I wrote a piece asking the question “Is portable gaming dying?” just before Christmas, and the answer is a depressing “Yes”. 😔
Worryingly, there are only five launch titles. Yeah, you read it right. Albeit, one of those games could potentially be the best game the console will ever have, five games at launch is a laughable offering. Adding insult to injury, particularly in my case, is that four of these games don’t interest me, and I almost certainly won’t play them. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild looks great, but for me, it’s not enough. Not to mention it will be available on the Wii U as well, so it isn’t exactly a console exclusive to draw in gamers. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is on it’s way, but can I really justify purchasing the same game for the 5th time? I’ve got hundreds, nigh on thousands, of hours plowed into it from previous adventures, and I’ve explored every single nook and cranny each of the nine holds within the game has to offer. But this version IS portable! I can do it all again on a bus, on a train journey, or even at 30,000ft. Oh God… it’s so hard to ignore the temptation. Maybe… maybe I can justify it. I can, can’t I?
Other than these two stand-out titles, one of which is 6 years old, there’s very little going for the Switch at this moment in time. Here’s an image that acts as a sort of calendar for the Switch’s 2017 release schedule. I’ve got everything crossed that a few more titles can tiptoe their way onto the console and hope that this isn’t a definitive list.
I know what you’re thinking, half of these games are already available elsewhere on other consoles, or at least will be come release day. Mario Kart is always great fun, especially from a multiplayer point of view, but this isn’t a new game. It’s just a port from the Wii U. How/Why are most of these games not launch titles? Beats me. But so far, not so good.
NOTE – there are now 6 confirmed launch titles. The 6th being a city-building sim called Constructor. Does that title sound familiar? Well, Constructor is a 20-year-old PC game. Let’s not pretend this fixes the launch line-up issue.
Adding to the ever-growing list of grievances, we’ve got the onboard storage coming in at 32GB. It’s got a low amount of memory out the box, but it is expandable with an SD card. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is 13.4GB, just for reference. If you’re no good with numbers, that’s nearly half of the device’s storage space taken up with the first game you’ll play. On the upside, unlike Sony’s fallen PlayStation Vita, the Switch uses standard MicroSD memory cards. A 64GB card will set you back £17 on Amazon, which softens the blow slightly.
Since the announcement, the Nintendo Switch has also been on the receiving end of some negativity in regards to it’s battery life. First and foremost, the Nintendo Switch is a home console. Let’s make that clear. It’s billed as a home console and it’s marketed as a home console. It just so happens to have a pretty cool feature of offering a way to play it away from your television whilst on a short commute. It is a hybrid console and the battery life will average between 2.5-6.5 hours. Similar to a hybrid car, you wouldn’t expect to travel 300 miles on a single battery charge, but you’re given the option to drive a percentage of your journey that way if you feel the need. That’s an awkward comparative metaphor, I know, but it’s tough to put the point across that this isn’t a portable games console. It just has an on-the-go feature. A huge positive for this console is that it charges using USB-C; which means you can use a portable charger with it when on the go. So, that coupled with lowering the brightness and disabling Wi-Fi should boost the battery life somewhat. Here’s hoping anyway.
In a nutshell, this console will flop.
I hope I’m wrong, I really do. I want this to be a success for Nintendo! I want them to do well and attract major games developers. I want Nintendo back on the map. Even if the Switch doesn’t end up being as popular as they have planned, I hope they stick with it. Please don’t abandon the Switch like Sony left the PS Vita.
There’s no doubt that I’ll end up getting one of these, but at this current moment, I can’t see myself jumping in and getting one at launch. Despite the negativity surrounding the price, space and battery, my key concern is with the launch titles; or lack of them, I should say. Looks like I’ll be needing some Viagra tablets to solve my ‘little’ issue.
Have you preordered yourself one? Or are you waiting to see how things develop as well? Let me know!