The Glass Half Full Case For The Nintendo Switch – Forbes

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Nintendo of America

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Nintendo of America

I am not terribly optimistic about the long-term prospects of the Nintendo Switch, which I view to have a lot in common with the Wii U, which I detailed in a lengthy column yesterday. With that said, those who know me regard me as something of a Nintendo skeptic, something I can’t really deny. While I know never to count Nintendo out, I do tend to focus on some of their more frustration decisions, because frankly, there are a lot to choose from.

But I like Nintendo as a company overall, and certainly love their games, as they’ve been some of the best I’ve played not just in recent years, but during my entire lifetime as a gamer, which I know is true of so many others.

In that spirit, I’m going to set aside my torch and pitchfork and focus on what are some of the positive aspects of the Switch, and how Nintendo might just turn this home console ship around if the Switch can realize its potential. I’m not making anything up, this stuff definitely could happen, and there are many positive aspects to both what we’ve seen of the Switch and its plans for it. Ultimately, I may be worried about what isn’t so promising, but again, read my other column for that.

Photo: Nintendo

Photo: Nintendo

Launching With A Game As Big As Zelda Does Not Happen Often

While it’s not great that the Nintendo Switch is launching with only a handful of new games, it’s hard to understate just how massive it is that Nintendo managed to get Zelda: Breath of the Wild out in time for the Switch release. Nintendo is often accused of launching its hardware without big games, but the fact is, that’s somewhat common even among Microsoft and Sony too. The Switch getting to launch with Zelda is like Sony launching with a brand new Uncharted or Microsoft with a new Halo. You almost never see that, and I expect that the Switch will do very well in this initial launch window as a result.

Nintendo Die-Hards May Trade the Wii U For The Switch Regardless

Yesterday, I made the point that Zelda had a bit of an issue because it was also coming out for the Wii U, a console 13 million people already own, which may discourage them from picking up a Switch. However, I’m willing to concede that many Wii U owners are probably some of the biggest Nintendo fans out there. Therefore, even if they do own a Wii U, it’s entirely possible, even likely, that they will be first in line to get a Switch anyway, both to support Nintendo’s new console, and to play Zelda on the more powerful, all-around better system.

Photo: Nintendo

Photo: Nintendo

Snipperclips Might Be The Sleeper Hit The Switch Needs At Launch

While I have not heard many good things about 1-2-Switch, the Joy-Con-using game that was demoed on stage during Nintendo’s reveal, as it’s too short and costs $50, now that people are hands-on testing the Switch, it seems another game is turning heads. That would be Snipperclips, which also uses the Joy-Con controllers for a co-op puzzle game that’s both adorable and a lot of fun. It may not be the system’s Wii Sports (the Switch really needs a pack-in game, incidentally), but if enough players discover it, the system might have more worthwhile exclusive games in the spring than just Zelda after all.

Its Gimmick Is Already Better Than Both The Wii And Wii U’s

The Wii’s motion controls led to its massive popularity, but the concept never proved to be anything truly useful or good for most games. The Wii U’s gamepad was almost never used at all, and when it was, it often made everything worse (*cough* Star Fox). The Switch, meanwhile, has a core concept with indisputable appeal right off the bat. There is no one, Nintendo skeptics included, who can argue that it isn’t an awesome feature of a home console to be able to take its games outside the home. The Switch’s portability is the most exciting, apparently useful gimmick the company has created in two decades, and needs no complicated sales pitch. You can play Zelda on a plane. You can play Skyrim on a bus. Other potential issues with the Switch aside, this is a fundamentally great concept Nintendo has run with here.

The Price Is Just Fine

This is one aspect of the system I’ve never complained about at all. I know that many fans and investors believe that Nintendo has shot themselves in the foot with a $300 asking price for the Switch, but I disagree. The Wii was $250 yes, but with inflation, that’s now $300. Given the tech being used here, essentially combing a handheld and a home console into one, this price seems appropriate, and while yes, PS4 and Xbox One are priced similarly, or even lower with bundles, those have been out for years at this point, so cut Nintendo a break in this department.

Photo: Ubisoft

Photo: Ubisoft

Third Parties Still Have Time To Come Around

One of the more worrying aspects of Nintendo’s Switch debut was the very anemic showing from big third party devs like EA, Bethesda and even Ubisoft, which claims to be one of the biggest Switch supporters, despite only showing up with three old games. But with that said, it’s clear what these companies are doing, testing the waters. You can’t blame them for not leaping in head first after the last two Nintendo consoles, but it could be the case that if the Switch sells well, and if it’s powerful enough to run say, something akin to an Xbox One version of a game, that maybe many of these devs will come around, and there will be at least some AAA blockbusters making their way to the Switch if it’s decided the console is worth their time. Granted, I’m not optimistic about this happening, but I have to admit there’s a chance.

The Switch Could Be A Powerhouse By Christmas

Nintendo is doing something almost unprecedented with a spring launch for the Switch, and that creates a unique case that for the console’s first holiday, it actually has about eight months to build up steam. If everything goes according to plan with no delays, we might see a Switch with Zelda, Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade 2 by Christmas, not to mention any other surprises along the way. Add to that a bunch of probable bundles and maybe a $50 sale price cut, and the Switch could be a hugely competitive console alongside PlayStation’s offerings and Microsoft’s assuredly expensive Scorpio.

I am worried about the Switch, but if a number of unknowns swing in Nintendo’s favor, things might not be as bad as I foresee. I still fundamentally doubt Nintendo’s long-term future in hardware, but if anyone can battle the odds, it’s them. We’ll find out over the next few years.

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook. Pick up my sci-fi novels, The Last ExodusThe Exiled Earthborn and The Sons of Sora, which are now in print, online and on audiobook.

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