The Nintendo Switch just hit its one-year anniversary, and its future is looking as bright as ever (especially after that Smash Bros announcement!). But it hasn’t always appeared that way. When first announced, many viewed the Switch as yet another gimmicky project of Nintendo. A controller with a screen? Didn’t work out too well for the Wii U! A console that small? I’ve already got a 3DS! Limited game library at launch? Come on, one Zelda game isn’t enough to sell an entire console!
...Yet here we are. Switch sales numbers continue to impress, and its game library is beginning to boast a great selection of Nintendo classics, 3rd party support, and incredible indies. I’ll admit, as a life-long Nintendo fan, even I have been surprised by their success... but it’s time to give credit where it’s due.
A defining experience of the millennial generation is that they grew up alongside the rapid development of technology. For a long time, technological devices and entertainment were largely immobile. The world’s first gamers accepted the idea that gaming could only happen in one place- wherever the TV or computer was located. Movie buffs and internet users were faced with the same reality - there were very specific places you had to go to access the entertainment you wanted.
Younger generations have grown up with a very different reality. We’ve grown up with Gameboys and DS’s; iPhones; tablets and laptops. With a smartphone in your pocket, you can talk, connect, read, research, create art, listen to music, watch movies, and play games literally anywhere. This type of flexibility and accessibility isn’t just a new perk of technology, it’s a new way of life. We’ve developed our very lifestyles around this newer reality. The ways in which we connect with others, navigate through our world, and share our experiences have been shaped by having a mini-computer by our side at all times. As a result, we do many of these things while on-the-go.
The Nintendo Switch fits this evolving lifestyle brilliantly. No longer should you have to sit in front of a TV to enjoy higher-end, quality gaming! You can play Mario Odyssey, DOOM, and Rocket League on the bus to school or work, or in your comfy bed at home. Your boyfriend wants to watch TV? No problem! Keep playing Zelda in handheld mode - you don’t need to fight over screen control. At the park with friends and get an itch for some friendly Mario Kart competition? Prop up the Switch, pass out some controllers, and keep enjoying the sun.
Nintendo didn’t make another gimmicky console — they recognized the emerging expectations of the millennial population and simply adapted to meet them. They’re clearly ready for future generations of gamers as well. Kids now are surrounded by mobile computers the day they’re born. Once they’re old enough, the Switch will feel like a natural technological fit for what they are already used to.
Many were quick to criticize the risks Nintendo took by creating such a different console. But Nintendo knew what we wanted before we did, and the proof is in the pudding (er, Switch). A year ago, during my lunch breaks, I browsed gaming subreddits or watched youtube videos on my phone, eager to get home to finally play on my Xbox (and hoping my wife wasn’t binging Netflix on the TV!). Now, I can spend my lunch breaks in Hyrule, and it’s pretty damn great.
Freud is a 20-something psychologist who’s interests are way too varied and who tries playing 50 different video games at once because what could possibly go wrong
You can follow him @aFreudianTrip for additional musings about videogames and life.