The creators of the Wii and DS brand unveil their new home console
Two years ago Nintendo revealed that they would be taking their famous intellectual properties and bringing them to mobile phones. This announcement was followed up with an assurance that the company would maintain a traditional home gaming platform, then codenamed the NX. For the following year Nintendo went silent on the project with the promise that more details would be shared in 2016. Throughout 2016, those close to the production of the system leaked various components of the hardware giving eager consumers an idea of what to expect. And on October 20th, with less than 24 hours of notice, Nintendo showcased the Nintendo Switch.
The Nintendo Switch is a hybrid gaming console with the ability to be played on home televisions via a dock station, as well as on the go with a tablet controller. It combines the hallmarks of Nintendo hardware with remote-styled controls, akin to the Nintendo Wii, a tablet controller, similar to the Wii U, and a portability more similar to the GameBoy Advance than the Nintendo DS, 2DS, or 3DS.
Unlike with the Wii U, the tablet controller will be capable of going anywhere. On planes, trains, or in the rain. Nintendo has also departed from the dual-screen structure they’ve had on their portable consoles for the past decade. It’s truly a switch for the company and brings about it many opportunities.
Many developers immediately backed the new console with a promise of ongoing support via third party software. Bethesda Softworks, the developers of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 4, Dishonored, and many more franchises had Skyrim showcased in the Nintendo Switch trailer. The publishers of Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto also promised support.
Nintendo has struggled in the past to maintain a positive relationship with third party developers. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are incredibly easy to develop for and port games to, but Nintendo hardware has always been designed with Nintendo developers in mind. Furthermore, Nintendo’s focus on accessibility for a wide audience often motivates them to make their products cheaper and thus lower quality. When a consumer is given the option to chose between Assassin’s Creed on Wii U at lower quality or PlayStation are higher quality, they go with the superior version. This leads third party developers to pull support.
While many reports lean towards the Nintendo Switch being on par with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One’s potential power, both Sony and Microsoft have revealed upgraded versions of their home consoles. We’ll have to wait and see if Nintendo can keep up, and if the appeal of taking Skyrim-quality games on the go will be enough to sway people away from better graphics and smoother framerates.
However, Nintendo may not need to rely on companies like Ubisoft and Bethesda for consistent content. Normally, Nintendo has had to split all of their resources between their Wii and DS brand. This would lead to fewer games released less often, which made the dependency for other companies to step in and make games. Now Nintendo will be focused on only one console, potentially doubling the amount of games they have for this upcoming generation.
What does all this mean for the average consumer? It means Nintendo is about to release a console that can be played at home and on the go, with games from the most revered gaming companies as well as a plethora of content from the company that brought you Super Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Metroid, Star Fox and more at a price point promised to be relatively cheap to the competitors. In the 1980s, Nintendo established themselves as the frontrunners of gaming culture with the Nintendo Entertainment System. In 2006 Nintendo made their way into every family’s living room with the Nintendo Wii, and in 2017 the Nintendo Switch may bring them back to their place on top.
We’ll get more details on the price, launch titles, and official release date in a presentation on January 12th. For now, the console has a confirmed launch of March 2017 with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild releasing around then, and the rumored price point is around $250 to $300. Until then, Nintendo is releasing a few closing titles on the Nintendo 3DS and plans to cease production of the Wii U.