The 5 Biggest Problems With The Nintendo Switch – Forbes
The Nintendo Switch is almost upon us, and Nintendo’s newest console is looking like a nice change of pace from the long-suffering Wii U. Right from the get-go, a portable/home console hybrid is a more compelling system than the Wii U’s dual-screen gaming.
I say that as someone who really liked the Wii U—but consumers, overall, passed on the system. Hopefully the same won’t be said for the Switch.
Nevertheless, there are some things about the soon-to-launch system that have me nervous. Here are the five biggest problems with the Nintendo Switch heading toward the system’s March 3rd release.
But before we start, let me get one thing out of the way:
I’m really excited for the Switch. I’m a huge Nintendo fanboy, and while I often criticize the company for its sometimes bizarre decisions and policies with regards to everything from the Wii U’s terrible name to the company’s weird YouTube policies, many of my favorite video game franchises are Nintendo IPs. I’m pointing out these problems because they have me worried that the Switch could potentially repeat the mistakes of its predecessor.
I want the Nintendo Switch to succeed. I hope that once the console launches, everything will turn out great. My hopes and my fears live inside me, in tandem, the one with the other.
Now, on to the list…
1. It’s pricey, especially when you take accessories into account.
The Nintendo Switch isn’t the most expensive console on the market, and at $299 it’s not a bad deal. But once you start to tack on accessories, the console becomes quite a lot pricier. Want to add a charging Joy-Con Grip? That’s $30. How about a Pro Controller for gaming on the TV? A whopping $70—more than a standard gamepad for either Xbox One or PS4. Simply buying the system, one game and a Pro Controller will set you back $460 plus tax.
2. Not enough games at launch, and nothing packed in.
Time and time again, video game consoles launch with too few games at launch. Nintendo is far from the only guilty party in this regard. But I hoped against hope that with the Switch, Nintendo would give us a much stronger launch than the Wii U. It doesn’t hurt that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a launch title—it’s terrific, in fact—but it’s basically the only compelling launch title and the only major Switch exclusive until Super Mario Odyssey lands in late 2017.
To make matters worse (and this applies to #1 as well) there’s no packed-in title. Nintendo should have included 1-2 Switch with the console, not charged $50 for a suite of mini-games. (This is similar to Sony’s decision to sell PS VR Worlds instead of bundling it with the PlayStation VR headset.)
3. Shoddy third-party support in 2017.
It may be impossible for Nintendo to rekindle strong third-party support for any of its systems at this point. Nintendo marches to the beat of its own drum, and unfortunately that means that the company’s consoles rely heavily on Nintendo’s own IPs. It’s frankly remarkable to see Skyrim on the Switch, but that’s still half a decade old at this point. There’s a few other ports of older games, but very few new third-party games or third-party exclusives coming to the Switch.
Unless we get some surprise announcements from EA or Activision, I doubt we’ll see a major first-person shooter come to Nintendo’s new console in 2017, if ever. That makes buying a Switch a lot less compelling for anyone who only wants one video game system, once again positioning Nintendo as a ‘second’ console; something you buy only once you’ve already purchased a PS4 or Xbox One (or gaming PC.)
I write this as someone who believes Nintendo’s first party content is absolutely fantastic and I do think that if Nintendo could simply publish enough great games, it could get by without third party support. The question is whether that’s something Nintendo can actually pull off.
4. Paid online service is a bad idea for Nintendo.
At first, only Microsoft charged for playing games online. With the PS4’s launch, Sony jumped on the bandwagon (though the company had offered an optional PS Plus service prior to this.) Now, finally, Nintendo is joining the fray with a paid online service launching later this year.
This is a mistake. The details of the subscription service remain sketchy, but I can’t help but think this will be yet another deterrent for potential Switch buyers (not to mention another cost, see #1.) Nintendo also had a chance to continue to contrast itself favorably against the competition.
The fact is, many gamers and families (the two target audiences for the Switch) already have too many subscriptions to juggle already, for everything from gaming services like Xbox Live Gold or EA Access, to Spotify and Netflix. Nintendo has every right to get in on the racket, but it’s coming from a position of inexperience with online networks and is late to the party, as it were. There are also not enough compelling online multiplayer games coming to the Switch to justify a monthly fee.
5. Storage is really limited (though it could be worse?)
I’m really not all doom-and-gloom when it comes to Nintendo’s decision to only include 32GB of storage on the Switch, but I do think it’s a huge mistake for the company. Before we get to that, let’s look at why it’s not all bad.
First, you can expand the 32GB very easily with Micro SD cards. You can add 128 gigs for $40, and the price of Micro SD is always steadily dropping. Second, if you buy games on cartridges (the Switch’s physical media) you don’t have to install them to play. This is in contrast to the Xbox One and PS4, which require full game installs from the disc onto the hard drive. So if you’re buying physical games rather than digital downloads, the 32GB won’t be that much of an issue.
Why this is a huge mistake for Nintendo is that it does, absolutely cripple the company’s ability to make its own digital store a viable alternative to GameStop and Walmart and Amazon. With just 32GB of storage, Nintendo basically needs consumers to purchase Micro SD cards if they ever plan to download more than a handful of games. I ran into this problem with the Wii U. After just a few downloads, you won’t have space and you’ll have to delete games to make room for others. For a company apparently interested in selling more digital content, such a small drive is a bad decision.
And that’s all, folks. I’m sure there are other problems with the Switch, and more will come to light when it actually launches. I’m sure there are also many amazing things about the new console. I know my colleague Ollie Barder was deeply impressed by the Joy-Con controllers, which he believes will set the system apart and make it something truly unique.
In any case, I’m equal parts excited and filled with trepidation when it comes to Nintendo’s upcoming system. I want the company to succeed. I want Nintendo to be a viable competitor in the video game industry because, in spite of whatever shortcomings or weird decisions the company makes, I think Nintendo is good for gaming. I think Nintendo’s family-friendly games and quirkiness and attention to detail are all good for this industry. I hope all of my concerns and critiques turn out to be dead wrong, and the Switch has a game-changing first year.
I guess we’ll see.
The Nintendo Switch launches on March 3rd, 2017 alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Look for our reviews of the system and its games in the coming weeks.
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