Last week the gaming community (pessimists and optimists alike) received a more in depth look into Nintendo’s new “games console” the Switch, during the annual Nintendo press conference. In recent years, Nintendo’s attempts to remain relevant in the gaming industry have fallen short with the prime example being the WiiU which is fair to say failed on the name alone.
As an individual who grew up with Nintendo, I was more than a little excited to see what Nintendo could bring to the table for 2017. However, after the press conference had finished my early optimism was replaced by sighs of frustration regarding pricing, storage, battery life and overall gaming experience.
Firstly the Switch is designed as household console like the Xbox and Playstation, but has the ability to be used as a handheld. The switch can be broken down into three parts; the console, the dock and the Joy-Cons (controllers). When attached to the dock the Switch functions as any other console, once unhooked from the dock the Switch turns into a touchscreen device just like a tablet. The Joy-Con controllers which resemble the initial Wii controllers can be attached to the console so the user can play on the go.
When you take into account what the Switch actually is, it is difficult to justify how much consumers will have to pay for it. In America the pricing comes in at an even 300 dollars while here in Ireland it is estimated to be at around 329 euros, which is a 70 euro increase from the original Nintendo Wii. Although some individuals would argue that 329 euro isn’t breaking the bank in this current climate, it is important to understand that 329 euro gets the consumer just the console and dock.
One glaring issue is that the Joy-Con controllers that come with the Switch are not chargeable forcing consumers to purchase a separate controller charge pack for 30 euro. While you can use the Joy-Con controllers Nintendo have produced a more traditional shaped controller the likes of the Xbox and Playstation, the controller which has been named the “PRO controller” will cost 70 euro.
With all the add-ons one must purchase it’s hard to see how the Switch is truly worth it, especially after the recent reveal that no game will come with the console. A bold move which could backfire in the long run. It is understandable that Nintendo would want consumers to purchase their big titles separately like Zelda and Mario (estimated 60 euro each) but it is difficult to get behind a console that once purchased has no games to play.
Finally, for the first time Nintendo are asking consumers to pay for access online, while it might be an industry standard to purchase for an online community it is the first time Nintendo have tried to adopt this approach and with a lack of price it just comes across as if Nintendo are attempting to get as much money as they can from their consumers.
“For the first time Nintendo are asking consumers to pay for access online”
If the unsettling amount of money one must spend to have all the equipment for Switch wasn’t enough, many have questioned the memory capacity of the hardware as well. After Nintendo spent the best part of last year hyping the new console it came as a bit of a shock that it would only come with a 32 GB hard drive. For example, ‘Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild’ which is projected to be the consoles best seller will take up more than half of memory space. This will force users to acquire SD cards (ranging from 10 to 100 Euro depending) for extra memory in order to play more games.
Although memory problems and additional add-ons certainly aren’t a new strategy in the gaming industry, it feels as if Nintendo may be crossing a line in which potential customers might feel turned off, especially with reliable alternatives i.e. Playstation, Xbox and PC.
The unique selling point of the Switch is clearly its portable handheld mode, although an interesting idea this too came under some scrutiny from the gaming community with an inquiry into the battery life. Nintendo responded with a rather vague 2.5 hours to 6 hours depending on the graphic requirements of whatever game you’re playing. For example, those who want to play Legend of Zelda on the go will be expecting 3 hours of run time.
Gamers planning on using the portable function on long journeys will have to consider which games they want to play or else the user would have to purchase a power pack or two. Something that Nintendo have failed to mention is how long the life span for the Switch is, just like all electronics these days, overtime battery life fades. Although you may be able to play Legend of Zelda for 3 hours upon the Switches release, in 6 months-time will the user be able to play for more than an hour?
Finally, the lack of interesting and dynamic games is another reason to worry about the Switch. On Launch day (March 3rd) consumers will most likely scramble to get their copy of Legend of Zelda ‘Breath of the Wild’ and will probably ignore the other titles also released, Just Dance 2017. Or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Skyrim which will be released in the Autumn. Nintendo have plans for releasing Super Mario Odyssey during the Christmas period, while games like Minecraft, FIFA, NBA 2K18 and Ultra Street Fighter 2 do not have a current release date but are expected to be available for purchase in 2017.
“The lack of interesting and dynamic games is another reason to worry about the Nintendo Switch”
Nintendo’s recent attempt to gather ground on its competition seems to have established more doubters than they hoped. Firefighting questions over pricing, storage and battery issues, Nintendo will find it difficult to convince serious gamers and even casual gamers to invest in the Switch. Obviously it is too early to predict whether or not the Switch will be a success but if the problems outlined are anything to go by it doesn’t look promising for Nintendo’s new creation.
Conor McGovern | Tech Editor