Mobile Mavens

What do mobile developers think of the Nintendo Switch?

What do mobile developers think of the Nintendo Switch?

So now we know that Nintendo's next console is to be a console/handheld hybrid.

Due to launch in March 2017, the Nintendo Switch features a tablet-esque portable unit with detachable controllers that will allow play on-the-go and on the TV via a connected docking station.

So while not a mobile device per se, it's certainly in that territory - and indeed, could stand to benefit from the tablet-sized gap currently opening up in the market.

Nintendo's shareholders seem uncertain, but with details still thin on the ground - and none more forthcoming until January 13th - we invited our Mobile Mavens to share their early impressions:

  • What do you think about the Nintendo Switch?
  • Is there sufficient market for such a device with the dominance of mobile gaming?
John Ozimek Co-founder Big Ideas Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

I think it looks really clever. But then, the Wii U is pretty clever as well.

First of all, the Nintendo faithful will always support a new Nintendo device; by the look of the new Zelda, I'll be one of them.

But I am far from sure that we can extrapolate the behaviour of hardcore fans out to the wider gaming audience. And how will the Switch sit in the Nintendo lineup next to the 3DS?

Will Nintendo be happy for it to cannibalise sales of its existing portable devices, or will there be sufficient difference in price and software line-up?

How will Nintendo justify continuing a premium price for 3DS games if Switch games offer much better graphics and the ability to play on a big screen?

Will Nintendo be happy for it to cannibalise 3DS sales, or will there be sufficient difference in price and software?
John Ozimek

Firstly, we need to know the cost, especially of the software. Much of the failure of the PSP and PS Vita has been attributed to cost; will the Switch be any different?

Same with Apple TV, and the seeming lack of enthusiasm for playing mobile on a TV. Maybe we prefer our games to stick to one device.

The data we've had in recent years indicates that even with mobile-only games, if it's a deep, console-like experience then game sessions are quite long leading to gamers playing more at home and on a WiFi connection.

So I'm interested to see whether Switch owners really will take it out and about. For me, there's a lot of unanswered questions on the actual usage model. Plus that launch video was pretty preposterous.

As for the second part of the question: yes, there's always room in the market for a Nintendo console.

This one seems to be aimed in-between console gamers who play at home, and console gamers that switch to mobile when they are out and about.

I don't especially see this as a play to compete with mobile games, because the price point, session time, and predominance of F2P make mobile something really unique.

Plus, didn't NVIDIA show off mobile gaming prototypes a few years ago that had HDMI out so you could play on the big screen? I remember our behatted Maven was involved in that one...

Will Luton Luton & Son Founder

I think that in part what we saw with the Wii U was a public fatigued with Nintendo gimmicks.

The initial excitement of the promise of the Wii hardware quickly gave way to disappointment of it's limitations.

The same was also seen with the stereoscopic 3DS screen, later dropped for the 2DS. Even Pokémon GO follows this pattern. These fads are bound to damage consumer perception of Nintendo.

However, I think that unlike the Wii U, the Switch has a story (a console that's also a handheld) that's interesting enough, when backed with Ninty franchises, that can do okay.

If I were to guess, I'd say the Switch will do around 30 million sales lifetime with a large majority of software sales being first party.

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Ideas Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

Agree about the gimmick fatigue - but then, doesn't the Switch have plenty of gimmicks of its own?

Wii U has done under 14 million units in four years, so the Switch will need to get traction outside of the Nintendo fanboys to sell double that.

Will Luton Luton & Son Founder

To clarify: I do think the Switch is very much gimmicky - that's to say novel hardware features that won't have significant impact on existing experiences - but I think it has a clearer proposition with a wider appeal than Wii U.

William D. Volk Chief Futurist Forward Reality

I think the Nintendo Switch is an innovative game system and a pretty bold move by Nintendo. Specifically its use of carts, instead of digital distribution of games.

Nintendo realises that digital distribution of software inevitably leads to a race to the bottom on prices, and the transformation of the design goal from play value to cash extraction - in-app purchases, digitally loaded content - known as free-to-play.

They know what the industry was like before we went down that road. Maybe this is a quixotic quest, but it shows that they realise the stakes at play here.

Jared Steffes Co-founder Muxy

There is a big opportunity that could happen here, but it won't because of Nintendo's stubbornness to continue being that kid in high school that refuses to attempt to fit in.

It was refreshing to see people sitting down and using standard controllers on a Nintendo product.

Using NVIDIA tech would instantly make it easier for developers to get their games to Nintendo users.
Jared Steffes

I've gotten tired of them making new legacy content I want to consume, but being forced to do something that only exists because they have built something unique. I'm still very upset about the new Star Fox for Wii U.

NVIDIA has extended its reach into new areas of gaming over the past three years.

They have a home console (Shield Android TV), a tablet (Shield K1) that can also act as a home console, and a subscription game streaming service (GEFORCE NOW).

A gamer can even stream their games on their NVIDIA powered PC to the devices, like a Steam box but it works easily.

The point I'm trying to make is there is a lot of existing content that Nintendo has been missing out on that normal players want, like the Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Overwatch, Batman Arkham, COD, BF1, etc.

Using some of the NVIDIA tech, especially the NVIDIA GEFORCE NOW game stream, would instantly make it easier for developers to get their games to Nintendo users.

Addressing cannibalisation of the 3DS market, it is time for it to happen. Pocket games have evolved and a gimmick can't outdo the sharp graphics and high quality headphones people have become accustomed to in 2016.

Sony understood this and launched with the PS4 Link to allow players to use the Vita as the consumption vehicle for PS4 content. It would've have been huge if they packaged the systems together.

I want the Switch to be a hit because competition is good. I just want the Switch to be confident of which marketplace it is competing in.

Oscar Clark Consultant, Co-Founder Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

It may come as a shock, but I am not generally known for my love of Nintendo products. Actually no, that's no quite fair; I've said for a long time that I think they should focus on software and peripherals.

But I am willing to admit I may have been wrong. The Switch is the first exciting thing I've seen in terms of console hardware in a very, very long time. Because its not a console. It's a tablet.

As a former NVIDIA employee and purchaser (yes I bought my own) of the K1 tablet - the best Android tablet on the market in my view - I am incredibly excited to see something we were hoping to emerge since 2006: a credible gaming device which was entirely based on a mobile architecture.

The power of what this device can do is remarkable and the ability to use it through a docking station with smart controllers really thrills me. I have to have one.

This is me actively getting excited about Nintendo hardware. Please, Nintendo, don't make me eat my hat!

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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