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LONG BLOG

The Nintendo Switch, and the End of Game Consoles?

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The Nintedo Switch has finally been fully unveiled! I’m always interested in the direction companies take with new consoles, Nintendo in particular.

My thoughts are nothing new, it’s a great concept!  A system capable of merging the handheld and console market would be big. It pools so much onto one system, games, promotion, development, user base... There’s literally no bad thing about this idea at all aside from issues in implementation, as in battery life, graphical limitations, yada yada!

I’ll be blunt, I think Nintendo failed capitalize on this. I think they’ve made multiple missteps with the Switch, but this has to be their biggest one in my opinion.

#Error 1: It’s not designed with portability first

It’s pretty big and the joycon sticks are unconcealed and won’t fit in your pocket attached.

This probably seems like nothing but it is! Easy portability encourages portability. Imagine a two piece phone that used both your pockets or needed some accessory to carry around! Pockets happen to be the only near universal method of easily carrying something around, for a portable to poorly take advantage of  that is lunacy. If you’re not going to make the device fully portable, why make it portable at all? With 3DS you just pull it out and play! With this, you pull it out, then attach your sticks and play, it’s an added 10 or so seconds but that makes a huge difference on the go. It’s like going back to loading muskets. It’s probably better to go a Vita esque route and make a more powerful handheld and a new console capable of playing those games, that way you’ve at least unified the games partially, which brings me to my second point.

 

#Error 2: It doesn’t play 3DS games

This actually isn’t a big error at all. The Switch only has one screen, so trying to make it completely compatible would be cumbersome. Unfortunately this all still means the 3DS is still out there, so Nintendo is competing with itself and your pocket space. In addition Nintendo’s reluctance to pass the handheld torch to the switch is implies you’re not safe relying on the switch as a portable replacement.

#Error 3: It’s not truly a home console on the go

This one is a fairly big missed opportunity. Allow me to give a not entirely unrealistic example!

You’re out your bud or whatever at the movies, after the movie you got your switch and your pocket and you say… “hey friend wanna come over and play the switch?” and your friend’s like, “no me and my girlfriend are gonna play Mario Kart 8”, and you say “oh, I’m playing Mario Kart 8 deluxe right now, we could all play!” ENTER THE PROBLEM!!!

  1. Three+ people playing on a tiny screen is ridiculous
  2. Mario Kart 8 deluxe only supports 4 player in TV Mode (could be wrong here)
  3. You can’t play in TV Mode because you didn’t bring your docking station.
  4. You’re a third wheel, but that’s a different issue.

So normally the story ends here, but what if it went like this…..

Your friend replies, “yeah, that’d be awesome!” So you head to your friends house hook up the system to the TV via HDMI and use your friends Wii controllers to get a 3 player match going! Everyone has a fun time and you get a full experience without going back home, or your friend buying a needless docking station or a Switch, which your friend will probably pick up later after being exposed enough times. Okay so this plan falls apart if your friend didn’t have a Wii Controller but at the very least the game would be playable on a TV, and you could watch and take turns playing.

But my point is it doesn’t fill the role of being a portable home console, without turning into a home console you just take around due to the docking station. At the very least it could’ve came with an HDMI socket.

 

All these problems add up and get in the way of the vision you’re trying to project. Are you really a home console on the go when, you’re work  to carry around, competing with your predecessor, and are unable to fully perform as a home console on the go?

 I don’t think this is will fly as a selling point . Vita already did the integration with a home console thing , and I think their expectations of how people will use  the Switch portably is a fairytale.

People are weird, so I have no clue if the system will be well off. More than anything I think it all depends on games, features, pricing, and comfort, and OH BOY what was Nintendo thinking with the pricing.  The console price is fair but the accessory prices are ridiculous, perhaps they want you to use Wii accessories. Charging  for online is also a huge disappointment. At the end of the day, online play is nothing more than a matchmaking service (outside things like MMOs).  Whatever online features they’re pushing might change the nature of things but who wants to pay for features they don’t use. This is a very un-Nintendo like move, I feel like they’re catering to a shrinking market and raising prices to compensate.

The End of Game Consoles

All this thinking just led me to the realization that dedicated game consoles going to start dying out. Of course I knew this would happen eventually but it looks like it may start happening fairly soon. Now I’m not screaming “NIINTENDOOOOOM” or anything, I’m just saying I can sense a real shift coming.

Think about it, every device is heading into a state of oneness.  Chat with friends, write a novel, draw a cat, track appointments… play games. A device that does everything will always beat out a device that does one thing even if it only does that one thing satisfactory. People only venture outside that spectrum when they’re looking to gain more depth. Gamers are essentially a niche, connoisseurs if you will, that have taken the next step.  Gaming has always been a niche really, but times have changed.

 Everything’s centered around massive budgets these days, and whenever companies have these bloated projects, they’re always looking for maximum exposure. If the game consoles are becoming more niche, that means attention is going to trend more towards smart devices which have a much wider audience. You never want your product audience to shrink! Ever!

The only thing that hasn’t buried the home console market is the fact that there’s no standard. The game controller, graphical capabilities, and system capabilities are essentially the wild wild west right now, but it’s going to standardize one day and that’s going to be a wrap for the home console market. I imagine Microsoft could take the initiative; they’re clearly already looking that way.

I don’t view this as a bad thing though! If pretty much everyone has a device you could do some amazing things in regard with multiplayer. Console wars would be over. Upgrading your device would upgrade everything you do on it, not just games. I don’t even need to get into how convenient it would be.  All around it just sounds like the way to go. The question is whose going to take that first step?

What interesting times we live in!

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About Kitasiaone of us since 8:21 AM on 01.14.2017

I've been developing games you've never heard of for over 10 years!

My website is felixfox.com