So last night I voiced my concerns regarding the Switch, I had a very bad feeling that the Switch could end up being another Wii U. However, having now had a good nights sleep and a full day to think everything over, I think I’m gonna flip that and say that against all odds, against common sense, the Switch will succeed where the Wii U failed.
See, the Switch is expensive, it’s above what a lot of people expected, and to a lot of people price makes all the difference. But, if we look at the competition, price means nothing. The Xbox One was $500 when it launched because of a piece of hardware no one even wanted, but it still sold at that price and with that baggage and surpassed the Wii U. The PS4? It released at $400, undercutting the Xbox One, and that one sold even better because the marketing was clear, it was simple to control, it was just your average console and all it really had going for it was the promise of great games in the future. The WIi U failed for multiple reasons. It released just before its competitors with a power level just above what the PS3 and Xbox 360 could dish out. It was definitely stronger than the Wii, but that didn’t help when its competitors were leagues ahead. Developers and publishers wanted to move on from dated hardware and making an extremely gimped version for the Wii U, if it was even possible that is, just didn’t make sense. The Wii U also didn’t sell, its marketing was confusing, and no one, even Nintendo, really knew how to use the GamePad. The Nintendo Switch corrects the mistakes of the Wii U.
If you remember back to October when Nintendo revealed the Switch, the hype train went full blast. The vast majority of people were excited for the Switch, which is counter to the Wii U which didn’t have nearly this much steam. People thought the Wii U was an add-on for the Wii, the Switch is wholely understood to be a brand new console and its main draws are apparent and easy for developers and consumers alike to understand. And while Nintendo isn’t the greatest at presentations, their marketing is solid.
But on top of that is the fact that the Switch harkens back to the Wii. Sure, a lot of gamers remember the Wii as the casual console and the console without traditional controls unless you bought a pro controller. The Switch is different. Nintendo’s IP’s are focused on core gamers, but with an appeal that casual gamers can also understand. The motion controls in the Switch are far more advanced and refined than what you’ll find in the Wii/Wii U, but you aren’t forced to use them like that all the time. Combine them using the grip(or not, your choice), and you get a full-fledged controller that the Wiimote and Nunchuk could not emulate. So right off the bat we have hardware that is at least close to Xbox One, close enough that Bethesda threw their lot in with Nintendo for the first time and that EA is willing to throw FIFA and NBA into the Switch ring. And the controls for your average AAA game are present which means that they don’t need to make up unique control schemes to get their games working on the system. I imagine this partly why there are over 55 games currently announced for the Switch with release dates all over the place and Nintendo strategically placing their big releases to keep momentum going. But of course, the fact that the Switch has these advanced motion controls will also draw back in the grandmothers and families that bought the Wii for things like Wii Sports, but it won’t be detrimental to core gamer experiences this time around because of the previously mentioned traditional controls.
Now I’ll admit that the launch line-up is abysmal, but if the hype surrounding Breath of the Wild is any indication, even though it’s releasing on Wii U, a LOT of people are going to buy the Switch just for that one game. And if the fact that retailers have pretty much sold out of their pre-order stock is any indication, it means that people aren’t caring about the price, they aren’t caring that there are so few games at launch, there’s that one game they want, and there are games in the future that they want and will only be able to find on a Nintendo platform. And that’s not even taking into account the handheld players who are intrigued by the Switch and will religiously follow Fire Emblem and Pokemon to the Switch when they make the inevitable jump from the 3DS. All of this combined with drive Nintendo Switch sales higher than the Wii U’s, and that in turn will force publishers hands and make them stay on the Switch even after they’ve moved on to the PS4 Pro/PS5 and Xbox Scorpio. Doesn’t matter that the base PS4 and base Xbox One will eventually undercut the Switch, they technically already are, because the Switch offers things that no other system has or does as well, the Switch offers a console experience not all that dissimilar from the Xbox One, and so long as publishers support the base Xbox One, they have very few excuses not to toss games to the Switch, and by the time they move on, it will be too late to pull out because the Switch install base will have grown to a decent size and we all know that publishers are very reluctant to leave behind large install bases because of all the potential sales.
And I mean lets face it, how many people bought a 3DS just to get Pokemon X & Y? Be honest here. Many people did just that, myself included. All the other games available on the system were just a bonus at that point. Pokemon broke the camels back, and odds are both it, Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey will be the three key games that sell the Switch in droves this year. Next year I’m placing my bets on the next Fire Emblem title(Not Fire Emblem Warriors), Metroid, and possibly F-Zero being the system sellers. So long as Nintendo can keep stocking the Switch in a timely manner, I have little doubt that it will sell more than the Wii U. Not, i’m still slightly skeptical that it will hit 3DS levels or even Wii levels of success, but if it can hit the 15 million mark in two years, it may have a chance.