Nintendo Switch’s Bright but Unknown Future

Should we be worried or relieved?

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With the release of the first official look at Nintendo’s new console the Nintendo Switch, we finally have an idea of what the console will be after nearly a year of speculation. However, now that we know what the Switch is, I can’t help but wonder what lies ahead for the next innovation in consoles by Nintendo.

During the reveal we saw all the rumors confirmed, the Switch will be a portable home console but still have somewhat powerful capabilities. It will come with many variants on how to play from multiple controllers, detachable screens, and the basic play on your TV, but just what does Nintendo want the Switch to be?

Nintendo is one of the few gaming companies to have earned a long leash from its fans. We trust Nintendo because time and time again they have delivered amazing products, but that trust is for their software. Hardware for Nintendo has been inconsistent, historically about every other console for Nintendo has struggled sales wise despite most consoles being praised by fans.

Switch's most anticipated game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WIld
Switch’s most anticipated game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

They make us pay for the same digital games from ten or twenty years ago that we have been buying since the Wii instead of carrying the purchases over, but those games are just so fantastic that we can’t resist. Whether it was Windwaker’s art style or Metroid Prime‘s first-person perspective, Nintendo has taken wild leaps with our favorite game genres and it nearly always pays off delivering experiences we never knew we wanted but now we can’t do without.

A great example of this is the Wii generation and just how unstoppable that console was. Its simplicity brought every type of gamer in from the hardcore to the casual but its had immense depth giving us wonderful fun with Wii Sports but also fantastic new systems with Mario Galaxy 1 & 2.  The Wii was so successful it forced Microsoft and Sony to develop their own solution to the rise of motion gaming with Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Kinect, Nintendo showed that you can never count it out even with strong competition.

But where does this leave the Switch? Historically Nintendo returns strong from poor console sales with its sequel. From Gamecube’s low sales we got the Wii, will the Switch be the same for the Wii U? The Wii U despite its forward-looking innovation with a slightly portable console was a failure selling only a little over 13 million consoles versus the Wii’s over 100 million. We can put this to marketing in how the name Wii U confused consumers, we can say they never had the killer app with a true new Zelda until it was far too late, or maybe the console just couldn’t compete with essentially no third party support but regardless of the reason it just didn’t succeed.

A look at one of Switch's controller options
A look at one of Switch’s controller options

In years past Nintendo could balance poor console sales with their unstoppable handheld sales but now that mobile phone gaming has all but consumed that market the 3DS isn’t too far behind the Wii U. That’s why it is not surprising to see Nintendo develop a system like the Switch but the question is, is it too late for a console like this?

Don’t get me wrong I would love to see the Switch be a resounding success. The N64 was my first ever console and Nintendo has had me since day one of Ocarina of Time but part of me would also be curious to see a world where Nintendo isn’t shackled to making hardware but just the amazing software they create.

Nintendo’s new console is backed by many third-party developers for the first time since the Gamecube but what we see in the trailer is video of a 5 year old game in Skyrim and games that were already on the Wii U or games that aren’t released yet. But what if instead of having to buy a second or third console for those of us with current gen hardware already what if Nintendo games came to us?

Skyrim is still not confirmed by Bethesda to be on the Switch
Skyrim is still not confirmed by Bethesda to be on the Switch

After the Wii U’s terrible sales if the Switch doesn’t sell significantly better or somehow sells worse then it is most likely over for Nintendo in the console industry. They will still have the mobile game initiative but the main loved products of Nintendo would not have a Nintendo-branded console to be on but is that really so bad? There was a time that we almost had a Microsoft Nintendo product as well as a Sony Nintendo product so what if we go back to that. Imagine playing Breath of the Wild on your Xbox One or the latest Mario game on your PS4, despite my love for Nintendo I can’t help but yearn for this solution.

I believe the Switch will have success, but I don’t think it will be without its problems, that is what happens when you take a risk like this. It is tempting for my mind to continue drifting to the idea that instead of having some Xbox or PS4 games on an under-powered Switch why not have Nintendo games shine on much more powerful consoles.

Memories of gamers are very fleeting, with all the negativity of Wii U we are quick to forget just how much wonderful success Nintendo has had. No matter what happens to the Switch when it is released in 2017 Nintendo will continue to be one of the most important gaming companies to ever have existed. From its characters to its games Nintendo has always added a much needed levity and enjoyment to the gaming industry.

For all the risks they take, for all the crazy changes they make, for all their failures, and for all their successes, I hope Nintendo never changes.

Are you excited for the Switch? Are you still buying Nintendo consoles? What do you think about Breath of the Wild? What is your most anticipated Nintendo game? Let us know in the comments below, on the RGM Forums, or over on our Twitter.

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