A Switch Too Far: Why Nintendo’s Latest Console Is Unconvincing

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Wait, that was it? Yep, I’ve suddenly been reminded why Nintendo are not the tour de force of the video gaming industry that they once were. Mr. Tatsumi Kishimi might have stated, “I hope that we’ve done enough to earn your support,” but the answer is a firm no, not at all. Nintendo’s stocks have dropped by 5% already and similarly, my interest in its new console, the Nintendo Switch, has certainly dwindled.

Before we start unpacking everything, watching the conference I couldn’t help but recall the Wii U’s ill-fated debut at E3, back in 2014. I remember being perplexed that President of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aime, was spending so much time trying to convince the audience that the console’s name was clever; justifying the efforts of Nintendo’s marketing. In hindsight, it all felt very desperate and marked a slippery slope for the Wii’s second iteration.

Switch to 2017 (two can play that game), and off the back of a wonderful trailer reveal late last year that brilliantly set in motion a tidal wave of enthusiasm for the next generation of Nintendo, the big N is back at it again. The Nintendo Switch has finally shown its cards, and I should have known it was too much to ask that Nintendo would build on that momentum. Sure, there was some good news, but for the most part, Nintendo didn’t knock our socks off in the way I had hoped. Apart from the timely releasedate, the biggest takeaways are all negative. The Switch is at the high end of an acceptable price point, online connectivity will be a paid service, it doesn’t have a pack in first party game, Splatoon 2 isn’t a launch title and the first party support is lacklustre.

But before we jump into that, can we all agree that Nintendo still almost certainly has no idea how to run a press conference? Last year, the Switch tease video did such a great job of amping up excitement for the console without uttering a word. But Nintendo sure does know how bore the pants off us when it comes to the more detailed stuff. We talk about the importance of E3 conference pacing when analyzing Sony and Microsoft, and tonight Nintendo reminded us of how utterly atrocious they are at these the art of the presser. It’s pretty clear that the company has, for a long time now, considered itself a very separate facet from the industry, but that doesn’t excuse them from these presentations that feel awkward, cheesy and archaic by modern standards. I don’t think they could have done any more to halt the hype train if they tried.

The event was dubbed “a detailed look at the Nintendo Switch,” but there were very few specifications actually elaborated on. What they did discuss was battery life, and again, the stats don’t make for great reading. 2-6 hours battery life does put the Switch in a comparable range to the Nintendo 3DS, its (proper) handheld, but that’s a pretty big range. I’d wager most of the more substantial, hardware intensive games – as in, the ones you want to play – are at the bottom end of that spectrum. Other specifications have since been revealed, and they too, aren’t much to celebrate, especially a measly 32GB of internal memory. 

Of course, a Nintendo hardware reveal wouldn’t be complete without its share of gimmicks, and the Big N didn’t waste any time getting stuck in. The Joycon controllers were a hardware component that we were all dying to spend five minutes talking about, right? No, me neither. Even if they do pack an impressive amount of cutesy features, I’m not sure I’ll be sharing any joy with a controller that small, especially at that price.

Indeed, the later revealed price point of the Nintendo Switch accessories are enough to make your eyes water.

Switch Pro Controller—$69.99
Joy-Con Controller Sets—$79.99
Individual L/R Joy-Con Controllers—$49.99
Joy-Con Charging Grip—$29.99
Nintendo Switch Dock Set—$89.99

Those prices are stratospheric. Seriously, we’re in PS Vita memory card territory here.

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