A Response to the Nintendo Switch Criticism
On Friday Nintendo revealed a lot more details about the Switch, with less than two months to go until its launch.
The reveal was met with a lot of negative backlash from gamers and journalists alike, prompting videos and articles declaring that we were in for another Wii U-esque failure.
Personally, I feel this is an overstated and un-necessary over-reaction to what will be a much more successful console than its predecessor.
Here are my responses to some of the key criticisms people have been making about the Switch reveal.
Criticism: “The pricing is too expensive”
Probably the main criticism has been with the pricing Nintendo have applied to the Switch and its accessories. $279.99 for the console, and $50-60 for the games, with accessories ranging from $70 to $100 for a Pro controller. Critics are calling this suicide, with the two other major consoles on the market available for less.
I think this argument misses two points. First, the Switch simple is not a direct competitor to the Xbox One and PS4. Nintendo arguably didn’t highlight this enough, but the Switch is as much a handheld console as it is a living room console – its core feature allowing you to literally ‘switch’ between TV and remote play.
This differentiates it enough from the other two in the same way the Wii was different to the 360 and the PS3, and gamers aren’t being asked to pick between the three.
Secondly, even in a vacuum the price simply is not that bad. Would we have all preferred it to be $250? Yes. Would we have preferred it to be $150? Yes. Would we have preferred it to be free, with Nintendo paying us to play it? Of course. $279.99 is not an expensive price for a brand-new console. If it proves to be too much for the market, Nintendo have shown they are not above reducing the price of their consoles to match market expectation, with the 3DS a case-in-point.
Criticism: “They are charging for an inadequate online service”
I’ll be the first to say that offering a rental of one NES or SNES game is not enough to warrant a paid online subscription. But what surprises me is many people are quick to say that this means the online service is doomed, and shows Nintendo is out of touch.
We know exactly three things about the Switch’s online service: 1) We’ll get a free SNES and NES game to rent and 2) it won’t feature the Miiverse and 3) Communication will be via a smartphone app.
We simply do not know enough about the online service yet to pass judgment on it.
We won’t know how much it will cost, what the Virtual Console will look like, what the UI will be like, and what other perks there might be. Again I’ll concede that the smartphone choice is an odd one, but again we don’t have enough information about it to pass judgment yet.
Criticism: “The launch line-up is the worst”
The launch line-up consist of five games, with several more to follow in the ‘launch-window’ that is the preceding months. For many this is apparently not enough, but I’d argue that whilst the quantity of games may not be as high as previous console launches, the quality will be what matters in the end.
The PS4 launched with 24 games, and many including myself felt the launch was lackluster. Why? Because Killzone, Knack and some last-gen ports – no matter how many there are – are not games I want to play. They aren’t good games.
What is looking to be a good if not great game? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Splatoon 2 launches in the Spring, as well as Super Mario Odyssey at Christmas.
That’s 3 games in arguably Nintendo’s 3 hottest franchises released in less than a year. Compare that to the Wii U’s first year and it’s night and day.
That’s not to mention the third-party titles that have been announced, as well as Mario Kart Deluxe – which no doubt represents the first of many Wii U remasters.
The line-up simply is not as bad as people are making out. I’ll take one Zelda over ten Knacks.
Criticism: “They’re relying on waggle gimmicks again”
Was it ill-advised to focus as much as they did on the HD rumble and waggle components in the presentation? Yes. Are they shallow gimmicks? Yes. Are Nintendo relying on this for the Switch? Anything but.
The first announcement trailer didn’t feature any waggling whatsoever, and the vast majority of games shown looked traditional, waggle-free, deep proper games.
The focus on JRPGs in the conference told me that not only will Nintendo not neglect the hardcore games, but they will make it a focus this generation. The waggle and gimmicks aren’t core features like with the Wii – Nintendo knows we want traditional games, and I think that’s what we’ll get.
Criticism: “Where’s Pokemon? F-Zero? Starfox? Metroid”
I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t hungry for reveals of Nintendo’s classic franchises reborn on the Switch, as were most of us.
But there’s the thing – every E3 or Nintendo Direct that rolls around, I’m always hungry for those things. It’s a selfish hunger, and one that I know is almost unfair to expect to be fulfilled.
The Switch will see Zelda, Mario kart, Splatoon and Super Mario in one year. That’s more than they usually do regarding their flagship franchises. As they’ve merged their handheld and console divisions, a Pokemon title is inevitable, and there’s time for Smash Bros, Metroid and F-Zero (please?) down the line.
Expecting all the heavy hitters at once is unrealistic and would frankly be an unwise move for Nintendo to make.
Criticism: “The battery life is 2 hours, what’s the point?”
Yes, the battery life could be better. but it isn’t horrendous, and it certainly won’t be deal-breaker for the majority. The fact is, Nintendo discovered – to their surprise – two years ago that the vast majority of 3DS owners never actually take their 3DS outside.
I, for one, have no plans to take a $300 tablet-size console outside the house. I’ll be playing it on the TV, or in bed. And maybe occasionally in the bathroom. And I’d bet this rings true for most Switch adopters.
I’m not saying the Switch is looking perfect. Some criticisms I agree with include the pricing of the accessories being a touch too high, I wish Mario was coming out a bit sooner, and they spent too long on the gimmicks rather than giving us more interesting details about things like the Virtual Console.
However, it’s looking far, far, far better than the Wii U. It’s already generated more hype than the Wii U ever did, people actually know about it and know it’s a new console. Most pre-orders are already sold-out. Zelda looks phenomenal. By all accounts the hardware itself feels great to play and it looks sleek. These things mean it’s looking good, and Nintendo are onto a winner in my eyes.
Amazon are taking pre-orders now.