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'So Did The Nintendo Switch Just Get Off To A Bad Start?'

Sat 21/01/17 at 18:49:
Regular
"Ghosts Can't Die!"
Posts: 774
So after months and months of endless waiting and speculation Nintendo finally lifted the lid on their next big console release, the Nintendo Switch. Gamers worldwide were treated to a wealth of information both from the Japanese presentation and Treehouse stream shortly after, however what was actually revealed appears to have split audiences right down the middle and its not hard to see why. It’s been a rather interesting week and one I’ve found myself flip-flopping back and forth on, however after letting it all sink in, I figured the best thing to do would be air some of my concerns and excitement for the console and its future.

Right off the bat let’s look at the positives to take away from the past week. The console itself looks brilliant. Everything from the design, the controls and the overall hook of being able to play on a television or take it on the go is exactly the kind of direction Nintendo need to be heading in order to stand out. The quality of the screen too is of a much higher quality than the Wii U’s gamepad, which is also a plus.

A March 3rd launch is also surprising news and means we’re only waiting a little over a month to get our hands on this new device. And of course we got to see a few cool looking trailers.

There is plenty to be concerned about however. Take for example what many might argue is the most important thing when it comes to any new console – its software line-up (or lack thereof as many might claim in this case). To be perfectly honest this is something I find myself trying to tackle from both sides of the argument. Just when I start to side with team positive I suddenly look a little deeper and find results that I’m less than thrilled with.

Yes Breath of the Wild continues to look fantastic and it’s a brand new Zelda adventure but remember, this is a title originally planned for Nintendo’s last home console, not Switch. Nintendo have even confirmed the Wii U version will launch same day, an attractive option for those still holding onto their old console. Super Mario Odyssey too looks like a wonderfully weird step in the right direction and given the studio’s history there’s no reason to be anything but excited for the plumber’s latest journey. However a late 2017 release date hurts. In the meantime Nintendo will be offering an “enhanced” port of Mario Kart 8 (depending on how you define the word) in April, new IP Arms in spring and Splatoon 2 in summer. Xenoblade 2 has been labelled as a 2017 title but given the crazy long wait we had to endure for Chronicles X, I shan’t hold my breath.

On first inspection the list feels a little too spread out when it comes to Nintendo’s first party output. In fact you could argue it’s worse than what Wii U released in its first year at retail. This should not be the case, especially when you consider Nintendo should now be having all studios focus on one console as apposed to splitting them for both handheld and home. Of course E3 is still to come and an argument might be that Nintendo wanted to save plenty of surprises for the event. There are rumours aplenty of a new Pokemon, Smash Bros and Mario Maker port and even Pikmin 4 on the way and E3 would be the perfect way to debut them. Whatever the case, judging by the line-up on display now, Nintendo need to hit a real home run come June in order to prove the systems future to gamers.

Third party support doesn’t paint too good a picture either. Big companies like Ubisoft and Bethesda stepped up to show their support for the system by announcing a small handful of games – great news when you think about it. However the games shown reek of a “toe-dipping” approach from publishers games either amounting to year old ports or cheaper gambles. I mean do we really need another port of Rayman Legends? Not at all. Is Steep really worth getting exciting about on Switch. Again no! It’s not all doom and gloom however as tucked away in the list of future third party releases are a good handful of exciting and well-suited titles. Games like Sonic Mania, Super Bomberman R, Puyo Puyo Tetris and Hyper Street Fighter II are perfect fits for the system’s handheld feature while indie games like Stardew Valley and Yooka-Laylee show that the Switch shouldn’t have any issues with drawing in independent teams. Again E3 will be interesting to see just what comes from third parties for the system but as it stands right now, the outlook isn’t as strong as Nintendo might have you think.

Then there is the cost of… well pretty much everything. The console itself is retailing for £279.99 which includes two Joy-Cons, the dock, the system, charger and Joy-Con grip (not the one that chargers but just the plastic shell). This does not include a game. If you did want to add Zelda to the mix then you’re looking at another fifty to sixty. Want a Pro controller though and that will set you back another sixtyish. Already we’re looking at nearly £400 out the gate. Additional Joy-Cons also come with a hefty price tag at £75 for a pair and just over £40 individually. Multiplayer sessions with Mario Kart 8 and Bomberman have suddenly appeared less appealing. On the subject of Super Bomberman R, Konami announced a £50 price tag just two days ago, a laughable amount for a game that looks to offer a somewhat budget experience. We can but only hope over time this sort of overpricing of games becomes less of a problem as things settle.

While the cost of the console is on the high range of acceptable, you have to consider not only the additional accessories and games but also the market it will be entering. At a point in the industry where you could easily find a PS4 Slim or Xbox One S at around £300 with a game or two included, suddenly the Switch’s lower price doesn’t quite stack up. Then of course there’s the fact that both Sony’s and Microsoft’s boxes have a strong catalogue to their name already, something the Switch will need to establish sooner rather than later.

Messaging appears to have once again been of a messy nature from Nintendo with plenty of questions still outstanding or important points simply ignored altogether. Take for example touch screen. Did you know the Switch had one? Probably not and that’s down to the company not only ignoring the feature during its conference but also having not a single game using said feature at any hands-on events. What the hell is going on?

Online also appears to be a mixture of negative and uncertainty. Paying a monthly fee for online services isn’t exactly surprising given how Sony and Microsoft have done this for years now, but when considering the efforts we’ve seen from Nintendo in the past regarding this area it left many questioning what they were going to do to warrant more money from customers. The answer to be honest isn’t a good one. Smartphones. If you want to create parties and use matchmaking you’ll need to use an app on your smartphone. If you want to chat you’ll need the app too. As it stands it appears these features may or may not be offered through the system itself but whatever the case this shouldn’t be something that’s left with a big question mark hanging over it. Why do we need a phone to do such simple online things and why haven’t Nintendo explained this better? The same goes for the “free NES or SNES game” a month to members that will offer online features. Confusing to start off but we now know these games will only be free for a month so instead it’s more like a rental. Compared with PSN and XBL this is bad value for money since those offer multiple games (sometimes even full retail products) every month and you even get to keep them!

Then there’s the Virtual Console. For years we’ve been saying this is Nintendo’s ace in the hole. They unlike Microsoft and Sony have such a wealth of classic past games that they’re sitting on but the way they distribute them has been poor. From a price standpoint and also a frequency this is something we were all hoping would improve with the Switch and with rumours of Gamecube games finally making the jump excitement was at an all time high. However we know nothing regarding the topic and have been promised more information before launch, but with just over a month left to go why are they cutting it so close?

I leave this discussion with my finger hovering over the cancel pre-order button. What Nintendo managed to do last week was what they’ve done time and time again. Disappoint and confuse. As much as I love the company and what they can deliver, its time like these that have you shaking your head and questioning why. The Switch is an interesting console and one with so much potential and while it isn’t doomed by any means, Nintendo really need to step up their game if they are to avoid another Wii U situation.

Post edited by Ghost Killer on 21/01/2017 at 19:01.
Mon 23/01/17 at 14:41:
pb
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,909
Yep, just had the press release for I am Setsuna. Looks like a digital release, so we'll probably see a lot more digital games being announced for launch, which makes sense for a console that can be portable, too. Great looking game, as well.

I just wish Steep had come out at launch, a top third party game for launch is just what the system needs, not COD or anything like that, there are 2 other consoles doing those, but something more suitable for Nintendo and Steep seems to be a good fit.

I also think it's far more important third parties create new games not ports of existing games, but still port a few classics or current games as well to show that they'll work portable.
Mon 23/01/17 at 14:30:
Regular
"Ghosts Can't Die!"
Posts: 774
All good points pb, especially the support side of things. Whether the Wii U had a better line-up at launch and during its first year or not, the Switch needs to compete against the already bulky roster both PS4 and Xbox One have especially since the price of the console is roughly the same.

Judging by third party support, Nintendo needs to show us more of what they can offer gamers to make up for this. What we saw last week had promise (new Zelda, Mario, Splatoon etc...) but it's nowhere near good enough. What is coming to fill the massive gap between Arms and Splatoon? Or the gap between Splatoon and Mario? I don't want my Switch to be another case of I play one game every three months and cross my fingers Nintendo's next big release is one that interests me.

Anyways it looks like I Am Setsuna has been dated for launch day now. No price as of yet but will be interesting to see how it compares with the Xbox One and PS4 price.
Mon 23/01/17 at 13:22:
pb
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,909
The Switch is exciting but, like you, I feel Nintendo could have done much more to prepare, especially after saying lessons had been learned from the Wii U launch.

First, let's look at why the Wii U did so badly (it still sold enough to sell out on release, though partly due to Nintendo short shifting console numbers).

1) PR was a disaster.
The general public (that larger percentage of people who don't go on gaming forums every day but still buy consoles) didn't really know what it was. The number of people I was witnessing who would come into a game store, even after release, and ask about 'this add-on for Wii' was staggering. And yes, I spend too long hanging around game stores.

The Switch needs advertising NOW. Like you say, there's really only a short time to launch and that means getting some knowledge out there to 'regular' people with a very clear message.

2) Support
Contrary to popular belief, the Wii U had a fairly good launch line-up with third parties supporting it. Yes, some games were 6 months old. but others had only just come out and it was due to launch timing that they were a week or so later on Wii U. Moreover, the Wii U extra bits were actually pretty good additions. There were certainly more than 5 retail launch games, which the Switch seems to have at the moment.

However, almost exactly a year later, once sales slowed pretty quickly and 2 new consoles appeared, third parties dropped off to concentrate on the other new consoles and left the Wii U with first party games and Ubisoft/Activision's more family focused titles.

3) Power
This wasn't the big motivator that some might think. yes, the Wii U was underpowered compared to the Xbox One and PS4 than came a year after, but by this time Nintendo had already showed that the console was quite capable of great looking games. But what it did was separate the unique structure of the Wii U CPU and GPU instruction set from the standard PC-based one of the Xbox One and PS4, making it much harder to provide cross-console game ports.

The Switch, alas, will have this same issue but it does look brighter because programmers have already said the Nvidia Tegra X1 is easier to program.
Sat 21/01/17 at 23:45:
Regular
"Ghosts Can't Die!"
Posts: 774
Thanks DL,

I'm sure over the next few weeks I'll keep adding to this thread as we find out more and more. Good news hopefully.
Sat 21/01/17 at 19:50:
DL
Regular
"Feather edged ..."
Posts: 8,399
Don't do 'consoles' but I do like to read a great review. Excellent stuff GK :¬)
Sat 21/01/17 at 18:49:
Regular
"Ghosts Can't Die!"
Posts: 774
So after months and months of endless waiting and speculation Nintendo finally lifted the lid on their next big console release, the Nintendo Switch. Gamers worldwide were treated to a wealth of information both from the Japanese presentation and Treehouse stream shortly after, however what was actually revealed appears to have split audiences right down the middle and its not hard to see why. It’s been a rather interesting week and one I’ve found myself flip-flopping back and forth on, however after letting it all sink in, I figured the best thing to do would be air some of my concerns and excitement for the console and its future.

Right off the bat let’s look at the positives to take away from the past week. The console itself looks brilliant. Everything from the design, the controls and the overall hook of being able to play on a television or take it on the go is exactly the kind of direction Nintendo need to be heading in order to stand out. The quality of the screen too is of a much higher quality than the Wii U’s gamepad, which is also a plus.

A March 3rd launch is also surprising news and means we’re only waiting a little over a month to get our hands on this new device. And of course we got to see a few cool looking trailers.

There is plenty to be concerned about however. Take for example what many might argue is the most important thing when it comes to any new console – its software line-up (or lack thereof as many might claim in this case). To be perfectly honest this is something I find myself trying to tackle from both sides of the argument. Just when I start to side with team positive I suddenly look a little deeper and find results that I’m less than thrilled with.

Yes Breath of the Wild continues to look fantastic and it’s a brand new Zelda adventure but remember, this is a title originally planned for Nintendo’s last home console, not Switch. Nintendo have even confirmed the Wii U version will launch same day, an attractive option for those still holding onto their old console. Super Mario Odyssey too looks like a wonderfully weird step in the right direction and given the studio’s history there’s no reason to be anything but excited for the plumber’s latest journey. However a late 2017 release date hurts. In the meantime Nintendo will be offering an “enhanced” port of Mario Kart 8 (depending on how you define the word) in April, new IP Arms in spring and Splatoon 2 in summer. Xenoblade 2 has been labelled as a 2017 title but given the crazy long wait we had to endure for Chronicles X, I shan’t hold my breath.

On first inspection the list feels a little too spread out when it comes to Nintendo’s first party output. In fact you could argue it’s worse than what Wii U released in its first year at retail. This should not be the case, especially when you consider Nintendo should now be having all studios focus on one console as apposed to splitting them for both handheld and home. Of course E3 is still to come and an argument might be that Nintendo wanted to save plenty of surprises for the event. There are rumours aplenty of a new Pokemon, Smash Bros and Mario Maker port and even Pikmin 4 on the way and E3 would be the perfect way to debut them. Whatever the case, judging by the line-up on display now, Nintendo need to hit a real home run come June in order to prove the systems future to gamers.

Third party support doesn’t paint too good a picture either. Big companies like Ubisoft and Bethesda stepped up to show their support for the system by announcing a small handful of games – great news when you think about it. However the games shown reek of a “toe-dipping” approach from publishers games either amounting to year old ports or cheaper gambles. I mean do we really need another port of Rayman Legends? Not at all. Is Steep really worth getting exciting about on Switch. Again no! It’s not all doom and gloom however as tucked away in the list of future third party releases are a good handful of exciting and well-suited titles. Games like Sonic Mania, Super Bomberman R, Puyo Puyo Tetris and Hyper Street Fighter II are perfect fits for the system’s handheld feature while indie games like Stardew Valley and Yooka-Laylee show that the Switch shouldn’t have any issues with drawing in independent teams. Again E3 will be interesting to see just what comes from third parties for the system but as it stands right now, the outlook isn’t as strong as Nintendo might have you think.

Then there is the cost of… well pretty much everything. The console itself is retailing for £279.99 which includes two Joy-Cons, the dock, the system, charger and Joy-Con grip (not the one that chargers but just the plastic shell). This does not include a game. If you did want to add Zelda to the mix then you’re looking at another fifty to sixty. Want a Pro controller though and that will set you back another sixtyish. Already we’re looking at nearly £400 out the gate. Additional Joy-Cons also come with a hefty price tag at £75 for a pair and just over £40 individually. Multiplayer sessions with Mario Kart 8 and Bomberman have suddenly appeared less appealing. On the subject of Super Bomberman R, Konami announced a £50 price tag just two days ago, a laughable amount for a game that looks to offer a somewhat budget experience. We can but only hope over time this sort of overpricing of games becomes less of a problem as things settle.

While the cost of the console is on the high range of acceptable, you have to consider not only the additional accessories and games but also the market it will be entering. At a point in the industry where you could easily find a PS4 Slim or Xbox One S at around £300 with a game or two included, suddenly the Switch’s lower price doesn’t quite stack up. Then of course there’s the fact that both Sony’s and Microsoft’s boxes have a strong catalogue to their name already, something the Switch will need to establish sooner rather than later.

Messaging appears to have once again been of a messy nature from Nintendo with plenty of questions still outstanding or important points simply ignored altogether. Take for example touch screen. Did you know the Switch had one? Probably not and that’s down to the company not only ignoring the feature during its conference but also having not a single game using said feature at any hands-on events. What the hell is going on?

Online also appears to be a mixture of negative and uncertainty. Paying a monthly fee for online services isn’t exactly surprising given how Sony and Microsoft have done this for years now, but when considering the efforts we’ve seen from Nintendo in the past regarding this area it left many questioning what they were going to do to warrant more money from customers. The answer to be honest isn’t a good one. Smartphones. If you want to create parties and use matchmaking you’ll need to use an app on your smartphone. If you want to chat you’ll need the app too. As it stands it appears these features may or may not be offered through the system itself but whatever the case this shouldn’t be something that’s left with a big question mark hanging over it. Why do we need a phone to do such simple online things and why haven’t Nintendo explained this better? The same goes for the “free NES or SNES game” a month to members that will offer online features. Confusing to start off but we now know these games will only be free for a month so instead it’s more like a rental. Compared with PSN and XBL this is bad value for money since those offer multiple games (sometimes even full retail products) every month and you even get to keep them!

Then there’s the Virtual Console. For years we’ve been saying this is Nintendo’s ace in the hole. They unlike Microsoft and Sony have such a wealth of classic past games that they’re sitting on but the way they distribute them has been poor. From a price standpoint and also a frequency this is something we were all hoping would improve with the Switch and with rumours of Gamecube games finally making the jump excitement was at an all time high. However we know nothing regarding the topic and have been promised more information before launch, but with just over a month left to go why are they cutting it so close?

I leave this discussion with my finger hovering over the cancel pre-order button. What Nintendo managed to do last week was what they’ve done time and time again. Disappoint and confuse. As much as I love the company and what they can deliver, its time like these that have you shaking your head and questioning why. The Switch is an interesting console and one with so much potential and while it isn’t doomed by any means, Nintendo really need to step up their game if they are to avoid another Wii U situation.

Post edited by Ghost Killer on 21/01/2017 at 19:01.

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