The last couple of years haven’t been filled with good news for Nintendo. The company that was once a leader in home gaming consoles was now struggling to compete in a world where the Xbox and PlayStation have taken over the market. Starting in 2014, they’ve had several quarters of losses due to disappointing sales of the Wii U console. Nintendo also faced growing competition from the mobile gaming industry, which is one that they’ve eventually entered after some hesitation. Now that their latest console product is set to be released around the world on March 3rd, many are asking whether it will help them make a big comeback.
Their upcoming console is called the Switch and offers a few interesting and unique elements that are likely to appeal to their target audience. The Nintendo Switch is a hybrid console, which can be described as a handheld tablet that can seamlessly dock to a TV. Gamers can switch between TV and handheld mode instantly. One can start a game at home and play on the big screen, then continue playing while on the road, save their game and then come back to play on their home TV again.
Gamers can add the titles they want to the console either by purchasing them online and storing the games on the console’s 32 GB of internal storage or by buying them in store. Switch games come on a memory card that is roughly the size of an SD card and slides in a slot at the top of the console.
While the Switch is quite interesting in terms of design, it does come with a few drawbacks. Even though it has the form factor of a tablet, it doesn’t have a web browser or other kinds of connected apps a lot of users would love, such as apps that give access to video or music streaming services. The console will only have nine titles available at launch. The standard retail edition won’t include any free games either, which might disappoint shoppers looking for maximum value.
Set to launch on March 3, the Nintendo Switch is another attempt by the gaming company to reconcile a console with mobile and home entertainment capabilities. A recent review done by TechCrunch, who were able to get their hands on the device before launch, claims that the hardware from Nintendo is crafty, but limited. Buyers can expect to find a restricted number of game titles upon release, but may be pleasantly surprised by the reliability of the Switch.
The device itself comes equipped with a 6.2-inch screen that can be docked into a charging station which may be plugged into a home theatre system. Using the switch in this fashion allows for multiplayer gaming on a bigger screen using the two “Joy-Con” wireless controllers. With both controllers attached, the system weights approximately .88 pounds.
Going wireless with the Nintendo Switch allows consumers to use the device for up to three hours without charge. Wireless online gaming is available without being plugged into the home charging dock. Among the multiplayer options provided by the Switch include an 8-player home functionality and a parental control standalone application.
Despite the lack of games mentioned by TechCrunch’s review of the Switch, Nintendo lists nine games being available for play on March 3, including the fan favorite, Zelda.
Nonetheless, the Nintendo Switch is a bold attempt at introducing a versatile home gaming system into the market. The ability to take the system on the go makes keeping track of game progress easier than the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One competitors. While the Switch does not have the robust graphics capabilities of these bigger consoles, this new product option by Nintendo will undoubtedly make an impact in the gaming market, especially with the established Nintendo fans.
Nintendo has started to unveil more information regarding the Switch, its impending hybrid of a traditional gaming console and a portable system. Among these details is the ability to already begin placing preorders. According to the official Twitter account belonging to Nintendo’s New York-based store, a limited number of Switches will be available for preorder on January 13th. Interested parties will need to show up at the New York branch of Nintendo World and put forth their money right at nine in the morning.
With Nintendo’s track record for new releases, as seen by the initial scarcity of the Wii, its Amiibo toys and even the NES Classic, it is an easy call that the Switch will likely be a difficult piece of tech to acquire for several months after its launch date. Anyone looking to get in on the ground floor of Nintendo’s new machine will need to keep their ears low to the ground for even the slightest opportunity. Regardless, it is a forgone conclusion that the aforementioned Nintendo World preorders will not be available for even one hour. It is currently unknown if Nintendo plans to extend official preorders through online stores or in regions other than New York City.
The Switch seems to continue Nintendo’s trend for producing revolutionary pieces of technology within the video game industry. The most notable feature of this new device is its modular capabilities; the very first trailer, which greatly emphasized the Millennial demographic, showcases how the central tablet can be inserted into a base to function as a traditional gaming console or taken along as a portable device. Furthermore, the controls can connect to the sides of the central tablet as an approximation of the Wii U’s tablet controller or they can be used separately for sessions of multiplayer gaming.
Bringing Something New To The Table
When Nintendo revealed its upcoming next-gen console Nintendo Switch the world was amazed. The combination of a handheld device and home console is changing the way gamers think of the console experience, but there are a few canaries in the coal mine. The design of the Switch may deter third party developers and publishers from providing support for the next-gen console. The return to using cartridges and relatively low memory are likely to turn off gamers accustomed to digital downloads and Blu-Ray discs. Regardless of these criticisms Nintendo continues to push forward
The Return Of The Cartridge
One of the biggest standouts in the design of the console/handheld hybrid is the flash cartridge format Nintendo has chosen as the media format of the Switch. Although the cost of cartridges has gone down in recent years they are still more expensive than optic discs. Naturally developers are going to factor this into their budgets and may opt out of providing third party software for the Switch. There are some advantages to the format. Cartridges offer faster load times when compared to the Blu-Ray discs giving the Switch an edge.
The Switch is expected to have relatively low amount of memory. At time when the average game is about 50 GB the hard drive of the Switch is raising some eyebrows. At most it is expected to have about 256 GB of memory space but other estimates put the Switch hard drive closer to 32 GB. The growth of digital downloads will come into conflict with Nintendo’s decision. However there are some companies that may warm up to the relatively low memory space of the Switch. Physical stores such as EB Games are experiencing serious declines in sales as consumer demand for physical copies of games drops. If the Switch finds a successful niche gaming stores may see the current trend reverse.