Comment & Opinion

Nintendo Switch is a great concept wrapped up in a disappointing and expensive launch package

Nintendo Switch is a great concept wrapped up in a disappointing and expensive launch package

Nintendo’s reveal of new informationon the Nintendo Switch occurred this morning at the odd time of 4am for those of us in the UK.

It was a muddled and disappointing presentation overall, filled with some of the best and worst of Nintendo. But you can’t deny the company has character that you don't get anywhere else.

It’s clear the console is not another Wii U. Its ideas are simple and easy to convey. Take it with you on the go or slot it into the dock to play it on your living room sofa.

The Joy-Con controllers are ingenious. Taking the best bits of motion control and a normal gamepad, while adding a new element for players to try out – face-to-face gameplay.

It wasn’t quite marketed like Wii Sports was, but 1-2-Switch could be an excellent title that shows off the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities for multiplayer, and something that’s accessible to the whole family.

Nintendo’s ability to target a younger audience with its software, and push for that broad market again with an innovative system, gives it a real edge in an area that the PS4 and Xbox One don’t really aim to crack.

High costs

It’s a shame then that, at least for launch, the whole package doesn’t match up. Something investors seem to agree with.

If Nintendo doesn’t plan to compete with Sony and Microsoft, the decision to price the console – it’s most expensive to date – higher than you can get a more powerful Xbox One and PS4 is surprising.

It will cost consumers £280 for the Nintendo Switch and an eye-watering £60 for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. (It’s £40 on the Wii U). That’s effectively a launch price of £340.

If you want to by more Joy-Con controllers for multiplayer fun - it'll set you back £74.99 for a pair (Or £64.99 for a Pro Controller).

The battery life meanwhile for the tablet leaves a lot to be desired at two and a half hours to six hours, depending on the game. It'll require players to keep their chargers and portable chargers on them at all times - which may curb some of those outdoor play sessions we've seen.

Where are the games?

Then there’s the distinct lack of games readily available on launch day. It's not all that surprising from Nintendo, but this one seems particularly lacklustre.

However, Zelda is such a strong IP that it might be enough along with 1-2-Switch to keep early adopters satisfied, but the third-party support is really lacking at this stage, with publishers re-releasing titles on the hardware.

It's also a real shame that a game like 1-2-Switch isn't bundled with the console from the outset. It could have made a very enticing package - but will millions buy the game on its own?

Another issue is that there's a lot of social interaction in Nintendo's marketing videos, but the launch line-up doesn't offer much for it.

Much like the Wii U, Nintendo just doesn’t seem ready for the launch. Its new Online Services, which will charge users to play online, won’t start in full until autumn, so for now is pitched as a free trial. And while users can share images at the tap of a button from launch, video sharing won't come until later.

Encouragingly, there’s some great games to come though, such as Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (which was incredibly missing from front and centre stage in the presentation).

But at launch, there’s not much but for the most hardcore Nintendo fans.

Christmas could prove a great period for the Nintendo Switch, particularly if its lineup also includes the new Pokemon Sun and Moon.

The road ahead

Nintendo has a tough journey ahead of it to prove to publishers it can sell their titles and to consumers that there will be enough games to warrant an expensive purchase.

It's Christmas, not launch day, where the Nintendo Switch's true potential will come to light.

It will surely outperform the Wii U, but right now the heights of the Wii are a distant memory.

Full disclosure: I worked at Nintendo from January 2016 to May 2016. I did not have any knowledge of the Nintendo Switch at the time.


Senior Editor

Craig Chapple is Senior Editor of PocketGamer.biz and InfluencerUpdate.biz. He was previously Deputy Editor at Develop and Online Editor at Nintendo of Europe.

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Steve Green PR at www.giantPR.co.uk
The pricing is such a shame. Considering Nintendo is trying to win back a slice of the huge audience it's lost to mobile, the switch needed to be a lot more competitive on the pricing.

With Amazon selling Fire tablets for £30 on sale days and Nintendo's mobile games set to improve on the disappointing Super Mario Run, I think Nintendo has shot itself in the foot here.