To say Nintendo has not been having much of a good year with their console would be an understatement, 4 years have passed and the WiiU has ended with a whimper. I’ve spent these 4 years trying to defend it and justify my purchases with excuses like “It’s only been the first year”, “They can turn it around like their 3DS” or the usual “I only play it for the Nintendo exclusives”. As the years passed, however, it was clear it was a commercial failure and an all around disappointment to both Nintendo and gamers alike. Selling only 13 million units worldwide, it managed to perform worse than the Gamecube, which at the time held the record for the worst selling Nintendo console (Discounting the Virtual Boy), for various reasons. These ranges from terrible marketing, underutilized gimmick, bad hardware, outdated online infrastructures and no third party games.With every new console launch, Nintendo likes to address and reassure gamers worldwide that they have learned from their consoles mistakes and that things would be different. So with the launch of the Nintendo Switch less than 2 months away, what did Nintendo learned? Apparently nothing to a significant degree.
Things started off on a pretty good start when they first revealed the Switch:
The marketing seemed to do everything right; I wasn’t initially fully sold on the concept but the trailer did a great job focusing on the consoles biggest draw, its portability. Without words it conveyed the many situations you could play the Switch and most importantly it appeared to be a rather non-intrusive gimmick compared to their previous consoles. The name was great too, the Switch is a snappy descriptive name which dissociates itself from the Wii brand while being preceded by a hypnotic *snap sound effect. So now we clearly understand what the console is and what to expect, a great step up from the WiiU which, believe it or not, didn’t even show the console itself during its reveal.
Things, however, took a complete 180 when Nintendo held its presentation the next year:
Things started off professionally when Nintendo reveal the standard information about pricing and launch date. The first alarm started to ring when they announced paid online services but I wanted to hear more before I formed an opinion. The second alarm started to ring when they presented previous consoles and stated how the Switch inherited the DNA of their previous systems but I thought I was simply over thinking that statement. My worst suspicions were confirmed when they started to present the Joy-Cons as if they were excited toy makers because it showed Nintendo didn’t change a damn bit. Everything here directly conflicted with their initial announcement and instead of a console with one centralized identity as a portable console, it became a horrific Frankenstein’s monster composed of gimmicks of a bygone era. From the HD rumble to the reused motion controls, it’s sad to see that Nintendo is still chasing the casual consumers of their Wii age, failing to understand that they all left for free mobile games on their phones. By chasing them, they’re simply going to alienate core gamers again because they don't realize that nobody looks back at the Wii with the same love as their other consoles.
Here you see Nintendo demonstrate the Joy-Con with ice cube when in actuality it's taking the piss out of their customers
As the stream went on, any intrigue I had with the Switch was slowly drained as Nintendo seems to be digging a deeper hole for itself. Nothing they say seems to indicate they know how the internet works from using an app to handle voice chat, matchmaking and lobbies to the fact that they’re renting out 20-year-old games for a month. The list of launch period games, while does include some gems, is not launch impressive especially when they’re selling a glorified tech demo for $50 USD. The addition of gimmicks has only served to draw up the prices of their accessories to absurd amounts of money, what are they packing into the dock to justify pricing it at $90USD? The power of low Switch price is negated when the consumers are additionally forced to pay for an online subscription and extra peripherals if they even want to play multiplayer.
I’ve heard many counter arguments about the Switch and the biggest one seems to be to compare it to the launch of the PS4 and the Xbox One. Those systems also have online subscriptions and had unimpressive launch games as well but these arguments fall short when you ask yourself why they don’t get criticized. Sony and Microsoft have backgrounds on which they sell their consoles on, they sell it on the premise that their consoles will be supported by third party games, will have a stable online infrastructure with decent sales and that their technologies will always take a step forward. If I buy their consoles I never have to worry if I’ll be able to play the new Fallout, worry about terrible online, get good discounts or if the graphics will get substantially better (l a major selling point to the majority of consumers). As their consoles go, they are pretty straightforward so I don’t need to constantly adjust to ever changing controllers or gimmicks.Nintendo doesn’t get to make these promises because nothing in their past history has shown they could do the same. They have always missed out on third party support and while they may get the odd exclusives, it’s nothing compared to the dozens of other games their competitors have. Their outdated online infrastructure was only saved by the fact it was free, an excuse that can’t be used now and their past sales indicate any discounts given by their eshop and by My Nintendo will not be worth the subscription. The only things Nintendo has to sell the Switch on are its games and its portability and that's what they should have focused on. They can’t simply rely on their most hardcore fans to save their consoles anyone because judging by the WiiU, many of them have already left that sinking ship.
It is so disappointing to me that Nintendo still doesn’t “get it”, they’ve only addressed their criticisms on a surface level without digging deep down to find the root of their problems. They copy their competitors' online subscription without showing they know how to handle it properly, they bring in a 3rd party port of a 6-year-old game and they backtrack on their initial great pitch to create a huge confusing mess of a presentation. We still don’t know much about their online subscription cost, their hardware or whether the Switch would combine their console and handheld division as one entity. All these half answers and vague points have only resulted in mass confusion from the ordinary gamers who don’t meticulously follow every news article and has created mass speculations on information that Nintendo should have provided in the first place. So Nintendo after leaving a mess for your consumers to wade through to find any actual truths to your new console, you think all of this is what's going to justify a purchase?