The Nintendo Switch console promotional image.

Actually, Nintendo Have Got It RIGHT With The Switch

Disenchantment has been rife since the underwhelming Nintendo Switch Presentation but, you know what?  I think Nintendo have got the Switch right.

I watched the presentation live and have since re-watched it on YouTube.  Watching it live, my thoughts echoed many of the forum posts and website articles I’ve read in the aftermath:

  • How powerful is it? Why aren’t they talking about the POWER?!  …I bet it’s underpowered.
  • Where are the BIG game announcements? Sure, they have a Mario and Zelda game, but Arms and a cowboy shootout game?!
  • Where is the support from third party developers? I thought there would be an army of them there, not just a handful.  And, I noted that EA only confirmed the best FIFA experience seen on Nintendo (which doesn’t say much).
  • Where are the colour schemes? That neon red and blue combo looks poor compared to fan-created versions of the consoles (we covered these).
  • Why would anyone who didn’t buy the Wii U buy the Switch? Especially when they can emulate the Wii U at 4K.
  • Nintendo is never going to compete with the Xbox One, let alone Xbox Scorpio.
  • Nintendo is never going to compete with the PlayStation 4, let alone the PS4 Pro.

In my mind, I was already reading Nintendo obituaries and grieving the loss of a brand that I cherished as a child but have grown distant from over the years.

Re-watching the Nintendo Switch Presentation following some time to reflect helped to put everything back into perspective.  Without the unrealistic levels of expectations and anticipation to sour the event, I have come to see the Nintendo Switch in a whole new light.

Nintendo is not competing with Sony or Microsoft.  They aren’t even pretending to.

Sony and Microsoft are in a never-ending battle, duking it out to create the most powerful machines to offer the most realistic gaming experiences.  With each console iteration, they close the gap on PC gaming and offer stellar experiences to the players who buy into their brands.

The thing is, Nintendo do not want to persuade you not to buy a gaming PC, PlayStation or Xbox.  Nintendo is creating a console that they want a reasonable portion of the gamer population to buy as well as their platform of choice.

Some would argue that this is a dangerous tactic, but I would argue the opposite.

Pulling statistically figures from the incredibly inaccurate made-up nether regions of my brain, let’s pretend that:

  • 40% of gamers are PS4 players;
  • 35% are Xbox One players;
  • 15% are PC gamers;
  • 5% are Wii U players, and;
  • 5% are handheld only gamers.

Theoretically speaking, if Nintendo can sweep up the Wii U and handheld only players, plus a quarter of the remaining players who play on a PS4, Xbox One or PC, they would have the equivalent of 32.5% share of the current market (for comparison, of course – the figures would fluctuate but my brain cannot take that amount of number crunching on a Monday).

Considering Nintendo will likely be offering a less-powerful machine than their competitors, their market approach has the potential to be extremely lucrative.

The masterstroke Nintendo has is they have their own console exclusives that are nothing like anything else on the market.  Every console has their own exclusive, but they’re similar enough that players glance enviously then forget about the competition.  Nintendo has everything Mario, and I don’t care what anyone says – nothing beats a family friendly game of Mario Kart.

Add their video game exclusives to a console that is truly different from everything else on the market, with the ability to offer a quality gaming experience on the go, and things look even less bleak.

I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve visited friends and spotted a Wii or Wii U under the TV and said “hey, you’ve got a Wii” and they’ve said, “oh yeah, it’s for the kids.”  Nintendo is the go-to brand for parents who don’t want to deny their children video games but aren’t comfortable with the thought of ultra-realistic first-person shooting experiences.  Nintendo owns that portion of the market.

Hardcore gamers would never give up their powerful gaming rigs or 4K consoles to be able to feel pretend ice-cubes in a glass, or play Arms (which is basically what Overwatch would look like if it was made by, well, Nintendo).  The Mario game looks nice and we all love a little bit of Zelda, but it will never be enough to give up every other game that the Switch likely won’t be powerful enough to run.

But, would we be willing to have a Switch under our TV as well?  Some of us will – and that’s all Nintendo want.  That’s all they need for this to work.

I am primarily a PC gamer; I love my gaming PC and cannot see a scenario where I’d give it up.  But, as a father who wants to share his love for gaming with his daughter, I’m watching the Nintendo Switch with curiosity.

It could be the console that introduces my little girl to the industry I love so much.