Stay on target
I’ll be completely upfront with all of you wonderful readers: I’m not a fan of Nintendo. Sure, I loved the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Nintendo, but after that, the company lost me. While my fondness for what Nintendo released in the late 80’s and early 90’s remains intact, everything that has come out after that golden era has failed to interest me. I guess you can say I grew up as a gamer and Nintendo didn’t keep up with me.
With that said, I have been following what Nintendo is doing with its upcoming console/mobile hybrid, the Nintendo Switch, with keen interest (and not just because it’s my job to cover gaming news). Despite my admitted indifference towards the company, I have been waiting for a reason to buy one of its systems for a long time. The Switch seems like the perfect device to get a disillusioned former fan like myself back in the fold.
There are numerous ways Nintendo can botch the Switch the way it did the Wii U. Instead of focusing on that; I want to talk about how Nintendo can make the Switch a huge hit and once again become relevant to hardcore gamers. If the world-famous Japanese company plays its cards right, the Nintendo Switch has a good chance of being one of the great success stories of this console generation.
A Strong Launch Lineup
This is a no-brainer, but the Switch needs to come out of the gate with a killer lineup of games. This not only includes brand-new first party games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, but also third party titles (I’ll get to those in a bit), and some Wii U ports. I’m not asking for the Switch to launch with a million games, but a solid ten or so will hold day one buyers over for a few months as Nintendo slowly releases titles over the coming months.
Third Party Support
While I understand that most people don’t buy a Nintendo console to play third party games, third party support is vital to a system’s success. Nintendo’s consoles have been relegated to being a gamer’s second (and often neglected) system. It doesn’t have to be this way with the Switch.
The Switch will not be able to match the PS4 and Xbox One regarding specs. However, it appears to have enough horsepower to play games like Skyrim, Dark Souls 3 and NBA2K. With strong third-party support, the Switch has the potential to be a primary console that has both first and third party games. Couple that with the system’s portability, and Nintendo could once again have a system that is complete unto itself and isn’t lacking the big third party titles found on competing platforms.
The main thing that has kept me from purchasing a Nintendo system all of these decades is their funky controllers. The N64 and GameCube controllers looked like they were made for alien hands. The Wii’s nunchuck-like controllers aren’t exactly made to be used sitting on a couch. The Wii U’s gamepad felt like an oversized, uncomfortable handheld. I always said if Nintendo seriously wants me (and like-minded gamers) to be in their good graces again, it would need a system with a standard, no frills, no bullshit controller. I know the Wii U had the Pro controller, but it wasn’t made for every game on the system.
During the Switch reveal trailer, I was initially turned off by the joycon controllers that come with the system. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Switch would support the Pro controller. Given how the entire video was (thankfully) aimed at adults, it gives me hope that every game for the Switch can be played with the Pro controller. This would go a long way toward making the system enticing to consumers since they’ll be able to play it the way they do other consoles.
A Robust Virtual Console
Nintendo’s greatest strength is nostalgia. One way for the Switch to capitalize on this is to have its Virtual Store jam-packed with classic games from Nintendo’s vast library. I think it’s safe to say that the Switch will not have a full library of new games for at least the first year. Having the Virtual Store pick up the slack by giving consumers a plethora of diverse titles to play would help tremendously.
NES and SNES games will be good enough on their own, but if recent reports are correct, it appears that the Switch will also have GameCube titles for players to buy. We don’t yet know Nintendo’s full plans for the Switch Virtual Store. But, if it eventually has games from every past system, the Switch will be extremely attractive to anyone who wants to replay titles from their childhood.
Long Battery Life
This is another no-brainer, but for the Switch to succeed, it needs to have a decent battery life. One of the big selling points about the system is that it can be played on the go. However, if the batteries die quickly, it defeats the purpose of having a portable device. It is unlikely that the system will have a battery life longer than five to six hours. Still, even a battery life of that length will be good enough for most gamers.
Recently, images of Switch peripherals and accessories were leaked. Among the items were a USB charger and a car charger. If people are meant to play the Switch on the road, charging options like these will be crucial. It’s good to know that folks will not need to worry about the Switch’s battery prematurely dying on them since they can have it plugged into an external power source even away from home.
Low Price Point
This generation of consoles has proven that price is extremely important. Look at the launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. One of the principle reasons for the PS4’s initial domination over its direct competitor was that it was $100 cheaper. Moving forward to holiday 2016, both current gen systems sold millions of units because of their low prices (sometimes as low as $200).
Nintendo can sell a ton of Switch units with the right price. We’ve heard reports/rumors of the system being anywhere between $250 to $400. Though $400 is an acceptable price for a launch console, I think that is a bit steep for the Switch.
Considering how Nintendo needs to win back the average gamer and not just please its die-hard fans, a price point between $250-$300 would be fantastic. If Nintendo can manage to keep enough systems on store shelves, the Switch will sell in large quantities. We could see a $400 SKU that comes with all manner of accessories, but it would be wise if Nintendo releases a $300 SKU aimed at the average consumer.
Give Fans What They Want
Nintendo has one of the strongest, if not the strongest, first party lineup out there. With that said, it is odd that fans haven’t gotten to play more of the company’s big titles. Mainline Zelda games only seem to come out when a new system is launched. Mario games are almost as rare. And where the hell is a new core Metroid entry?
Nintendo’s fans are vocal about the titles they want to play. It would be wise for Nintendo to listen to them and consistently release its biggest franchises for the Switch. I’m not saying that Metroid or Zelda should be made into annual franchises, but seeing a new main entry every two to three years from these and other series would make the Switch more appealing. The demand is already there. Nintendo just needs to actually produce more of its biggest franchises to keep fans happy.
A Better Online Experience
The Switch needs a fully functional online service akin to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, especially now in 2017. For years, players have been getting together online on their respective platforms to form parties, communities, compare achievements/trophies, or simply to chat with one another. The Wii U’s online service was incredibly limited and restrictive. Nintendo needs to let go of the leash and let players interact however they want. There obviously needs to be controls set in place to curb abuse and harassment, but people shouldn’t be restricted in the language they use online.
Also, the Virtual Store needs to be streamlined so that players can find games and buy them with ease. The Steam Store is a prime example of a sleek, user-friendly store that Nintendo would do well to emulate. Overall, the Switch’s online environment needs to be a place that players want to spend time in.
And for the love of [insert deity], Nintendo, no friend codes for the Switch. Seriously.
For years, fans have wanted to play the popular monster catching simulator on a Nintendo console. However, the games have always been relegated to handhelds. After all, these are “pocket monsters” and, in Nintendo and Niantic’s eyes, it wouldn’t make sense to have a main Pokemon game on a home console.
Thankfully, the Switch is both a home console and a handheld. We don’t know the exact fate of the 3DS, but all signs seem to indicate the Switch will serve as the successor of both it and the Wii U. Since the Switch looks to be Nintendo’s only handheld for the foreseeable future, it makes sense to have a proper Pokemon game for it.
Pokemon has always been a wildly popular series, but it has gained more notoriety thanks to Pokemon Go. The mobile game was so huge that it helped Nintendo sell a lot of 3DS systems over the holidays thanks to it having a new Pokemon game. With Pokemon hotter than ever, a brand-new game on the Switch will generate high demand for the system.
Like I said above, Nintendo could totally screw the pooch with the Switch. Given the company’s recent history, this isn’t hard to fathom. However, the Switch is an innovative piece of technology, and it has the potentially to be wildly successful if handled correctly. We’re less than a day away from seeing the big Switch-centric Nintendo Direct, so hopefully we’ll get a better understanding of what Nintendo has in store for us at that time.