For the last two months I’ve kind of been hanging onto the rumors of the Nintendo Switch’s power like they were the most important thing there is. Like a lot of people, I’m afraid that the Nintendo Switch might go the way of the Wii U and lose all third party support after it hits the market. For its first year the Wii U had decent third party support, but the sales of the console weren’t that great and no one really understood how to use the GamePad effectively. In addition to that the PS4 and Xbox One came out one year after the Wii U and outperformed it by leaps and bounds. Third parties wanted that over what the Wii U could offer.
So the Nintendo Switch feels more like a last ditch effort to keep Nintendo from becoming the next Sega. They need to nail this system. Nintendo can have the largest war chest in the world, but flop after flop is not good. And so I’ve consistently been hoping that the power under the Nintendo Switch’s hood will blow people out of the water and at least match the Xbox One so that it can secure continued third party support. After all the Nintendo Switch is a home console despite its appearance and hybrid functionality. But recent rumors have sort of stomped on the hopes of it matching the Xbox One. Sure, they might not be true, but multiple sources are apparently coming out of the woodwork corroborating those particular specs, which in all honesty aren’t good. They’ve been interpreted multiple ways, but the two common interpretations are as follows:
1) Both docked and undocked, the Nintendo Switch will not match or outperform the Xbox One, but it will surpass the Wii U even when undocked.
2) It will not match the Xbox One, and will only surpass the Wii U when docked with the portable mode being more equivalent to the PlayStation Vita.
The first interpretation is the one that I seriously hope turns out to be the correct one if the rumors turn out to be right. It’s more important that it’s stronger than the Wii U on both fronts because as the successor to the Wii U it would look really bad if the Switch was weaker. That’s the perspective I’ve bee looking at it from all this time. And it’s made me afraid for not only the Switch, but also Nintendo. But perhaps I shouldn’t be.
The Nintendo Switch is unique in many ways to the point where it would be extremely hard to compare it to the PS4 and Xbox One. The versatility of the console, from its hybrid nature as both a handheld and a home console, to the endless possibilities of its Joy-Con remotes, is unprecedented. The Joy-Con patents are merely examples of what they can do, or rather, what alternative versions of them can do. But the biggest reason, and why I’ve probably been looking at this the wrong way all this time, is that the Nintendo Switch is at home in the one market that Nintendo has dominated ever since it became a thing: The handheld space. Not to be confused with mobile. I’m talking the Game Boy, the DS, the PSP, PS Vita, and NVIDIA Shield. Nintendo has been the king of this playground with almost as many 3DS’ in players hands as there are Xbox One’s in players homes, and that’s saying something when the DS sold a lot faster than the 3DS, and the 3DS still managed to keep pace with Xbox(Though Microsofts missteps are obviously a big part of that I imagine, not to mention their pretty big failure in Japan.). And now Nintendo is bringing a handheld with the power of a console to market, and all their exclusives are now under one roof rather than split between two. People who want their Pokemon fix? They’ll go to Nintendo Switch, and that alone will drive sales through the roof. Bring in Mario, Zelda, Fire Emblem, Metroid, Pikmin, Donkey Kong, Splatoon, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Star Fox, F-Zero, Animal Crossing, and a GameCube virtual console. All of those will push the sales into overdrive. A new Mario game which supposedly takes cues from Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine is reportedly set as a launch title if not a launch window title. Zelda: Breath of the Wild already has a massive amount of hype around it, and regardless of when it releases, it WILL drive sales. Pokemon is still sitting on the fence, but since its home is handhelds, they will most likely make the move to Switch, whether its with a combined version of Sun & Moon or a completely new title.
And so thinking about all of this, it seems clear to me now that maybe I don’t need to be afraid for the Switch, because Nintendo is playing to all their strengths, from being the king of the handheld domain, to their massive stable of iconic and fun first party franchises. Being able to play on your TV with an overclocked console mode is simply a sweet bonus. If they can nail the price at $249.99, I doubt anything will be able to stop their most hyped console in years from being a sales success. Ports of Smash Wii U, Mario Kart 8, and Splatoon also help of course.