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LONG BLOG

Online Services - The real problem with Nintendo and the Switch

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The real Bowser in the room

Special Note* This article has gifs,  it may cause trouble on some old phones and slow computers , you have been warned.

Today I really wanted to talk about something that is bothering me for quite a long time. 

The lack of a well integrated online services that permeates nintendo ,it's products,  our purchases and our online experience.

Bowser and family are still happy  even with all the issues with Nintendo online services !

We live in an age of online interaction, were digital media permeates and encompasses our everyday lives, want some groceries ? You can order them online , want to talk to a distant relative ? Add them on facebook or skype  and do a video call, Want games ? Download them right away  , want to chat with friends while you play ? create a chatroom and talk away. 

We love immediate feedback and companies have embraced that with joy (no wonder why we have so many apps in our cell phone app stores) since we tend to consume much more ( be it either content, games or simply social interactions with a dash of commercials) within this digital age where products are just behind a single click or tap.

This current reality is far away from what we had in 2001 were digital market places were more dream than reality and although there were some examples of it back them we were not really prepared for them, but it all changed and changed fast.

From a time were brick and mortar shops were the "real deal" and online buying was "a nice complement" we are fastly shifting to "go online or die", consumers have adapted and changed and the market places followed accordingly with physical stores closing off and online shops having presence in your social media.

Enjoy brick and mortar  stores while it lasts ! 

Although we have many examples of companies that braved this new digital world and evolved within it we also have retardataires that are still at a loss when dealing with all this change, Nintendo is one of those companies and is fumbling to created a online ecosystem that works properly in today's world.  

But before we dwell deeper on Nintendo current faults for it's online services and how that impacts the Switch and it's launch, let's take a closer look at its competition.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN - BRING OUT THE GIMP

Hunn lovely tacos

Between PSN (launched november 2003) , Xbox Live (launched november 2002) and Steam (launched september 2003) none of them came out of the door with all bells and whistles but for their respective platforms they established the initial foundation of a marketplace that had online services and features bundled together, forming ecosystems.

These online marketplaces were able to deliver digital content ( in the form of full games, demos and DLCs) and in some measure integrate you with other players and friends. 

All of them evolved during these 15-16 years to encompass features which most of us take for granted when considering online services for games like :

  • Dealing with massive libraries of games and dlcs 
  • Dealing with game patches and updates
  • Creating chat rooms with our friends
  • Sharing our gaming sessions via streaming ( or other services)
  • Exchanging messages
  • Playing games online ( which is now converging on consoles to be a subscription service)
  • Sharing games and purchases across sets of consoles/pcs you own

Individually these functions and features might not seem like much, but when merged  in a single entity a revolution on how we game happened. This amalgam of features is what we now consider has the bread and butter for most of our online gaming experiences (independent of chosen hardware). 

What Nintendon't 

Nintendo trying to figure out why their online is not that appealing 

Don't get me wrong, Nintendo also tried to create it's how digital marketplace (e-shop) and it's own set of online social services (the last name that comes to mind is My Nintendo but there were many others) the real issue is that although they did create these initial set of services they never took the next step, they never integrated their online services and marketplace into a single coherent experience.

This lack of vision is what can jeopardize the Switch launch ( more than the hardware), specially considering that its competitors have not only mastered this game, they have bested it , improving and innovating over what is considered the bare minimum.

Let me list just a few of the many pain points we currently have  when using the Nintendo e-shop and services :

  • Purchases are tied to the physical console, not to your digital account
  • No way to share games and purchases between multiple systems you own
  • Lack of sharing features
  • No support for chat rooms
  • The great ideas and services that made the environment unique are being discontinued (instead of integrated) 
  • Due to the way the marketplace is tied it ends up forcing players to re-buy their old emulated game library each time a new console is released
  • Even though there is a dedicated part of the e-shop for old games their are released in a very slow manner (considering they are just dumped roms of the originals)

Let's also remember that although some of these shall be addressed by the cell phone application in the Switch (like chat), it's still a subpar solution, these features should be integrated by default in the current online experience of the console without users having to deal with extra applications or hardware.

Maybe the saddest part is realizing that most of these problems were not corrected before the Wii U launch or even during it's lifetime.

 

In loving memory 

I'd like to say that I see Nintendo getting out of this predicament within the first year of the Switch, but considering their track record it may take 1 to 2 console launches before they switch strategies.

And that may be too late.

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About Jirayaone of us since 2:36 PM on 08.05.2015