Unfortunately, I’m a little too late because the Switch is flying off the shelves and the attach rate is through the roof, per usual. Nintendo is making some of the most innovative content since the N64 era and again it’s stuck on sub-par hardware. “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”, 2017’s game of the year winner from IGN, Gamespot, and The Game Awards, and only 10 million out of the roughly 110 million gaming consoles out there can play it. It would be a huge benefit to all of us if Nintendo could just suck up their pride and share their legendary software with all of us. We all know that won’t happen without a little push, so do me a favor and don’t buy a switch.
Making Hardware is extremely expensive, normally the manufacturers take a loss in hopes to make it back on the software. Giving up the console race could mean billions of dollars in profit and less risk for the hundred year old toy company. History makes it clear that Nintendo’s hardware is always a side-step of where technology is, and I don’t blame them. Their team has to carefully manage their message to separate from the rest of the pack, otherwise it’s an arms race they just can’t compete with. The decision is to make cheaper hardware, sell it like an action figure with all kinds of flashy armor sold separately, and market to children who will bug their parents about it. For the adult gamer, we have to settle for some quirky hardware in order to play some of the best IP in all of gaming.
Before the Switch actually released in March of last year, we were the closest we have ever been to a third party Nintendo. Their home based consoles have been on a downturn since the beginning with NES, excluding the flash-in-the-pan success of the Wii which caught hold of the non-gaming market as a “Wii Sports” toy. The NES sold 61.91 million units, SNES 49.1 million units, N64 32.93 million units, Gamecube 21.74 million units, and the Wii U with 13.94 million. With this trend, it looked like the Switch was Nintendo’s last hope to stay in the home console business, and with the unclear press before release, I was banking on the Switch following suit. The press conference held on January 12th contained terrible, unexciting Japanese translation and showed a desperate Nintendo trying to establish a catch-phrase, promising third party support, and attempting to make lightning strike twice by showing off Wii-esque gimmicks.
As we all know, the story turned out much different. Nintendo is in top form, creating some of the best games in history while also establishing some relevant third party support. While I do congratulate them on a successful first year, I can’t deny the value of a multi-platform Zelda or Mario with the potential to sell hundreds of millions of copies rather than being tied to a niche toy that’s expensive to manufacture. For now, I’ll sit here and wait for the glorious day where I can play Zelda on my Playstation, and what a glorious day that will be. When that day comes, I’m confident Nintendo will see much bigger returns than their previous foe SEGA ever did.