In a word…
Yes, it does look like Nintendo did enough with their new console/handheld hybrid to ensure that third-party software is not an issue – mainstream GPU, and a fairly “normal” controller (well… Nintendo Normal.) But, let’s face it – at this point in time in video game history, your average gaming enthusiast is not going to purchase Nintendo hardware to play what we can safely assume will be slightly watered down versions of CoD, GTA, Dishonored, Madden, etc. (when compared to their PlayStation, Xbox and/or PC brethren.)
So, leaving their main gaming platforms and making the switch to Switch is not going to be within the realm of probability for most gamers. Once again, and without any compelling reason for mass-man to join in on the fun (as they did with the original Wii), my belief is that the Switch will be (if Nintendo is lucky/smart) relegated to “second system” status and that its relative success will be almost entirely dependent on the quality and quantity of first-party software.
The new Zelda is already a foregone conclusion. The Switch teaser trailer offered a short, generic Mario game and not a whole lot else. How willing is Nintendo going to be to dip into their bag of under-utilized IP’S (here’s looking at you “Metroid Prime” series) and to nurture new IP’s more befitting an adult gamer demographic (if they can even remember how to do that?) And, can they put a new face/spin on those series’ that they have gone back to time and again to give them a reboot (here’s looking at you “Mario Kart” series?)
No, I think it is safe to say that there is not enough in what we have seen of Switch to make gamers switch. And, only time will tell if Nintendo’s first-party software development studios are up to the task this time around. They failed miserably with the Wii U and that wasn’t too long ago – their customers are still feeling the sting of that purchase decision. A strong offering out of the gate, with a clear road map of year one releases, could make their path to second system success a little easier to navigate and make Wii U consumers a little more forgiving/excited. But, without a strong lineup and a lack of vision on the software side of things?…
… consumers might just flip this particular Switch off.
Did Nintendo Learn Their Lesson? Will New IP Be a Priority? Will They Give Gamers ANY Reason to Make the “Switch?”
…Or a reaffirmation of their position as the 3rd horse in a two horse race?
As the new year begins, Nintendo finds itself in a position that can’t be too comfortable, with aging portable hardware (3DS) competing in an increasingly iOS and Android-based world, a console platform (Wii U) that is being ignored by consumers worldwide, and first-party software development that has stagnated to the point where the company is barely recognizable and seemingly a shadow of its former self.
If ever there was a platform developer in need of the gaming version of an enema, it is Nintendo in 2016. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look likely as their new platform, codenamed “NX,” is unlikely to be ready for prime time by the 2016 holiday season and, if it is, it will be reliant upon the same first-party software development that has been so anemic in Nintendo’s Gen 8 hardware offering. In addition, the company’s mobile strategy seems to be one that they are approaching VERY conservatively.
Then, we have their first-party software release schedule for their current platforms which, at the moment, looks like this (does not include digital-only releases):
Wii UThe Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD Star Fox Zero The Legend of Zelda
3DSMario & Luigi: Paper Jam Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest Metroid Prime: Federation Force
If you are a cup-half-full type, you could see this schedule as confirmation that Nintendo HAS to be focused on delivering the goods for NX in 2016, right?
If however, you are more of a cup-half-empty individual (for the sake of this discussion, let’s call them “realists”), you have no choice but to see this as more of the same from a company that is in desperate need of a strategic re-boot. The problem is, they have ceded the core gamer market to Sony and Microsoft and the fickle casual market ran away from Nintendo as fast as you can say “Wii Sports Club!”
What’s an international conglomerate currently resting on its laurels to do?
In 2016, it looks like not a whole hell of a lot.
The Legend of Zelda on Wii U – Nintendo’s Attempt to Fight Irrelevance in 2016?