The Hidden Costs Of The Nintendo Switch Keep Adding Up – Forbes
Among the issues I may have with the Nintendo Switch, I’ve been a pretty ardent defender of its $300 price point from the start. While many were hoping for, or even expecting $250, it makes sense that in the current market with the functionality of the Switch, that $300 would be a pretty logical price.
But with that said, the more we learn about the Switch, the more Nintendo is stretching that price. $300 comes with the Nintendo Switch and…nothing else, and that’s a problem given some assumed functionality of the console. Here’s what I mean:
$30 For A Joy-Con Grip That Actually Charges
By now, most have seen the Joy-Cons slide into both the Switch screen component itself, and also the dog-faced controller that you use to play games on the TV. You might assume that when the Joy-Cons are plugged into either, they’re charging themselves, but that’s only true for one of them. The Joy-Cons are charging when they’re plugged into the Switch tablet screen, but not the grip controller that comes with the system. Rather, you have to buy a separate charging grip for $30 that charges the Joy-Cons, or else you have to plug them into the Switch tablet every time.
$70 For A Pro Controller
The Pro Controller, unlike with past Nintendo consoles, has been promoted up front as being pretty core to the experience. While you can use the Joy-Con grip controller, for many games, it seems like the more traditionally shaped Pro Controller is a preferred alternative, both when playing in tablet mode, but also at home. But it costs $70, as it’s not included in the box, and that’s $10 more than the (arguably superior) DualShock and Xbox controller as well.
$80 For More Joy-Cons
The Pro Controller price is only topped by the price of getting extra Joy-Cons, which are $80 for a pair, or somehow, $50 individually for left and right versions. Nintendo has always been a bastion of local multiplayer, but now playing with more than two players is going to be more costly than ever. Your options are to either buy extra Pro Controllers for $70 each, or to play using four Joy-Cons, which is cheaper, but still $80 extra with everyone just using one half of a Joy-Con set. While it’s good Nintendo has moved on from Wiimotes, an advantage of the Wii U was that you could use controllers you already owned. Not so here, and gearing up in that department is mighty pricey.
$90 For Another Switch Dock
This one may admittedly be more of a luxury item than the others, but for a system where the goal is mobility, transferring from TV to TV isn’t going to be cheap. Yes, you could move the entire docking system like you would a normal console, but for the “ease” of just transferring the tablet unit, it will cost you $90 for a new dock, which frankly, barely has any tech in it, given that the core of the Switch is run through the handheld tablet. It feels like paying $90 for a glorified charger, in this case. If this was cheaper, this could be a great family advantage of the console as you could easily move your Switch from room to room, but at this price? Why bother?
The Switch Comes With Zero Games
Considering that Nintendo is trying to channel the success of the Wii, it’s hard to believe that they didn’t replicate the aspect of that system that helped it succeed the most, the pack-in of a must-have game. At $300, nothing comes with the Switch. While I understand wanting to charge for Zelda or Mario Kart separately, it’s stunning to me that not only do Snipperclips, 1-2-Switch or ARMS not come with the unit, that they’re sold separately for sky-high prices. Snipperclips is the exception with only a $20 asking price that makes it seem like it should definitely be a pack-in. But 1-2-Switch is a full $50 and ARMS is $60. Early tests seems to indicate neither is worth nearly that much, and it remains unclear why some combination of these Switch exclusives are not packaged with the system.
??? Dollars For Nintendo’s Online Service
And here’s the final unknown. For the first time in Nintendo’s history, players will have to play to access the online component of games starting this fall. Standard pricing for such a service across Sony and Microsoft is about $50-60 a year, so I wouldn’t expect anything much different than that. While it may be standard for the industry, it’s not standard for Nintendo, and already it seems pretty wacky, with many core components of the service being run through a Nintendo phone app.
Update: SD Storage
After publishing this piece, I was reminded about the Switch’s 32 GB hard drive, where a Zelda download and install will take up over half of that by itself. It’s clear that the Switch’s internal storage will need expanding over time, and that requires SD cards that can range from $40 to potentially hundreds of dollars for the higher capacity ones. While most consoles allow the option of a larger aftermarket hard drive, on the Switch with an HD a fraction of the size of its competitors, it’s almost mandatory, and therefore, costly.
While it’s always the case that new consoles have extra costs like games and a controller or two, I think Nintendo is reaching a new level with the Switch. Many of these purchases feel pretty essential, and also overpriced. Even more so when you’re in a country like the UK where Nintendo is doing 1:1 currency conversion to make everything even pricier.
So while $300 for the base unit seems fine the current climate, these accessories that feel necessary and these games that should be bundled in with the console are somewhat problematic. Once people figure out the grand total they’ll be spending on the Switch to make it as functional as they imagined it would be, perhaps they’ll just consider alternatives instead.