Nintendo Switch has been all over gaming news as of late, but with so much going on, it’s time for a quick rundown. After all, this is something created by one of the most loved companies in the world, and yet, it’s also one of the most complicated, isn’t it? After cultural differences with E3 every year, and media stories about it all, they decided to do their own broadcast, cheaply and effectively. They refuse to partner with third-party consoles, and they still hold onto the belief that Americans want more portable systems.
So, what did they do with Nintendo Switch, and where do players stand on the matter? Most importantly, what can you, as a developer, learn from it?
Nintendo Switch, In Brief
Coming out on March 3, 2017, Nintendo Switch will retail at $299.99. Use it as a home video game console, or remove it from its dock, attach a controller to each side, and play anywhere. Play while getting coffee, or play while having lunch. Use it between meetings, or just while lounging around after a long day.
TV Mode will allow players to play games the traditional way. Tabletop mode allows players to use the integrated stand, and controllers, mimicking a sense of playing on a small computer. Well, kind of. Handheld mode is when you simply attach the controllers and go about your day.
Battery life will be between 2.5-6+ hours, depending on the game. Zelda will be about three hours on one charge. Connect over Wi-Fi for online gaming.
For $299.99 players are looking to get a 720p screen, up to six hours of battery life, and expandable storage. The Switch will feature a 6.2-inch 1280×720 resolution multi-touch screen. It will come with 32GB of storage, but players can expand it with a microSDXC card.
Putting it into perspective, the lower speed will be noticeable compared to the PS4 Pro, or the Xbox One Scorpio. The PS4 Pro also offers 4k, which the Switch will not. Then again, Nintendo has been clear in the past: they don’t follow trends, they just focus on delivering innovation.
Sony has failed to penetrate the handheld market with its PSP and Vita, so the only true contender for handhelds now is Nintendo. However, the Switch seems like a compromise, doesn’t it? Nintendo’s attempts at making handhelds that make Americans happy have been failing for a few years. The Switch’s entire marketing pitch revolves around being the best of both worlds, both as a traditional console, and a handheld. It seems Nintendo simply cannot let go of portability.
What Do Players Think?
Decent, but it’s worth sitting on the decision. Overall, that’s the best way to summarize it. The top release for it that people are waiting on is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but that can be played on the WiiU. It will release on the same day, March 3rd. Games like Splatoon 2 and the new Mario won’t be out till later, around summer. Rather than playing a game, then waiting months before another game release, players kind of want to sit on the whole thing until they can get a few games at a time.
But opinions vary. Some point out that it’s nothing new, just a touch screen tablet with controllers. Others call it the objective distillation of pre-Wii Nintendo. Players worry it will be too big to take on the go, or point out the low battery life. They also worry that it will be too small, and offer too little, to be seriously considered a viable co-op option.
On the other hand, there are players who are completely over the moon, and claim they will purchase their first Nintendo console in 20 years. Why? Because it’s a family machine that can entertain kids in public spaces. If you have kids, you might use the Switch as a means of parenting, to keep your children from yelling, running, or getting lost in your local grocery store. Not to mention, no more having to share the TV. Kids want to play? Good, they can use it in Tabletop or Handheld mode, while the parents continue watching news.
What Can You Learn from the Switch?
Nintendo Switch is different from what the company has been trying to do for years, in that it has a little bit of everything. It has controllers, but it also has a touch screen. It has portability, but it can also be used as a tabletop, or a traditional home console. It can be with you on a coffee run, and play a game for 6 hours, or it can just meet you halfway, at about 2-3 hours. It’s all a matter of what they player wants, when, where, and how. In a day and age where people demand different things, have many different needs, and expect to get what they pay for, Nintendo designed the perfect system to make everyone happy.
Well, kind of.
What about the specs? Those who expect a certain level from their hardware might be disappointed by the Nintendo Switch. On the other hand, those with this mentality already have PS4 Pros, right? The Nintendo Switch would be a nice addition to the gamer who wants more options, and yes, a portable solution.
As a developer, there are some major lessons in all of this. Players like options, and players expect there to be games after games after games. They hate lapses of time when crickets sing between game releases. They are willing to spend money on something lacking in the hardware department. But they expect versatility as a compromise.
There’s no denying that Nintendo took a chance with this one. They clearly took a step back, analyzed what worked in the past, and mashed it all together for players to enjoy. Although it doesn’t have 4k resolution, or a particularly large screen, it’s already highly anticipated. If there’s one lesson to take from all of this, it’s that players love to feel like they’re in control of their gaming experience. They like the Switch, because it offers a little of everything.
Sure, there will always be the unhappy few. And that goes for pretty much everything in life. No product out there can make absolutely everyone happy. But the focus you have as a developer is to make your target audience a giddy one.