Why The Switch Might Be A Huge Gamble for Nintendo
Nintendo has often been known for their innovative approach to design, and for good reason. Previous consoles from Nintendo have been under powered when compared to their contemporaries from Sony and Microsoft, but the Wii and, to a lesser extent, the WiiU both made up the difference somewhat by having a fascinating design. The Switch continues this trend, but this time, the design also serves a practical function: the ability to play games on the go by effectively turning part of the system into a handheld gaming device that can play console quality games. Fans are excited and even skeptics seem intrigued, but nobody seems to be asking a particularly important question: is Nintendo shooting itself in the foot by creating a console to replace handheld gaming?
It’s been well reported that Nintendo has a track record of financially under performing, comparatively speaking, but one market the company has always had cornered is handheld gaming. Microsoft has made no attempt at a handheld that even got past the prototype stage, and the PlayStation Vita turned into a joke, receiving very little support from Sony post-launch. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s variations of the DS design have always sold like hot cakes and will most likely continue to do so. That is, of course, unless consumers believe that the Switch can replace the 3DS.
The Switch is reported to have a battery life comparable to that of the 3DS. The difference, of course, is that while the 3DS can play handheld quality games (which have admittedly gotten better over the years), the Switch promises to be able to handle console experiences like the mainline Legend of Zelda series and past hits like Skyrim. When it comes right down to the depth and quality of games available, the 3DS should not be able to compete. This could prove troublesome for Nintendo.
Plenty of PS4 and Xbox One gamers bought the 3DS; if they wanted to have a handheld gaming device, there were only lesser alternatives. But while core Nintendo fans will most likely buy the Switch, I find it unlikely that a fan of another system would pay $300 to get the Switch and use it primarily as a handheld. They’ll likely stick with the 3DS. Some Switch users may feel that the new system effectively replaces the DS series, however, so Nintendo may have a problem on its hands: a new console that does little to attract fans of competing companies as well as possibly working to discourage more frugal Nintendo fans from supporting the DS. While the Switch definitely has an inventive and functional design, Nintendo is precariously close to disturbing the equilibrium of an already delicate financial house of cards.
Perhaps this concern is unfounded and fans will continue to see the need to own both a Switch and a 3DS. That would certainly be the best case scenario for Nintendo, but it’s worth acknowledging that both systems being necessary will probably not be the universal consensus on the matter. Whatever the case may be, one can only hope that Nintendo understands their core audience enough that the Switch is a rousing success instead of a well intentioned setback for the company.