No doubt that the recently announced Nintendo Switch will surpass sales of its ill-fated predecessor, the Wii U, which sold just above 13 million units. But the real question is whether it has enough to propel the console and company forward beyond 2017.
Although initial reactions to the Switch presentation were divisive, it is clear that excitement is in the air.
The Kyoto-based company smartly presented the Switch as a culmination of its previous consoles. It takes elements from its wonderful history to create a truly unique console-handheld hybrid; truly a breath of fresh air in an industry that appears to less inclined to take creative risks.
Back in 2011, when Nintendo unveiled the Wii U following its success with the Wii, the messaging was unclear, causing brand confusion. Even the late Nintendo President Saturo Iwata admitted that they should have done things differently. Production for the console recently ended and the story of its decline is well documented.
Fast forward to 2017, Nintendo announced the Switch in what appeared a timid, yet meaningful presentation, albeit sometimes lost in translation. However, Nintendo ensured that messaging for the Switch was clear from the beginning. Even the console’s name differentiated itself from its predecessor the Wii U.
Switch pre-orders sold out almost immediately, which suggests that finding one during launch will be a nightmare. While initial excitement for a new console is a norm in the industry, the question remains whether the Switch “has legs” or not. In other words, is there a bright future for Nintendo latest console or will it fizzle like the Wii U?
There are some initial concerns for the Switch. The launch lineup is quite thin, even by console launch standards. Accessories and upgrading storage will definitely tighten the belt for some. Nintendo’s proposed online system looks very fragmented and lacking compared to PSN and Xbox Live. The battery life of the console was also a concern, especially for more graphically demanding games.
Nintendo definitely took notes from the Wii U and hopes to avoid repeating those mistakes, especially when it comes to enlisting more third party support for the Switch. Nintendo is leveraging its differentiated approach by offering a home/handheld console hybrid, hoping it can provide gamers distinct gaming experience compared to its competitors, since it does not exist in a vacuum in the gaming industry.
Traditionally, Nintendo first party releases are exceptional, with massive franchises such as Mario (and all of its iterations), Zelda, Metroid, Pokémon, have all graced their previous systems. However, in a day and age where third party support is critical for a console’s longevity, can the Switch continue to entice third party publishers and indies beyond 2017 to develop games for their revolutionary Switch?
While the Wii U was a real wake up call for Nintendo, the Kyoto-based company is trying to re-up its position in the gaming industry. While it may never compete on the power narrative that has dominated this generation, Nintendo is banking that its innovative and social gaming aspect will propel it back into the lime light. However, pay close attention to its upcoming announcements, as it will give indication of Nintendo’s future trajectory.
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