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  • Ask any parent, 20-something,

  • or long time video game fan what the most coverted

  • gadget of the holiday season is

  • and the Nintendo Switch will be high on that list.

  • Probably at the top.

  • - Nintendo!

  • - It's been almost a year since the hybrid

  • handheld launched and it's still pretty hard

  • to get your hands on one.

  • And for good reason.

  • The switch is the most innovative console

  • in nearly a decade.

  • Basically since the original Wii.

  • Besides being immensely popular

  • the Switch also saved Nintendo.

  • It's easy to forget how dire the company's

  • console business was in the wake

  • of the Wii U's failure.

  • Nintendo found success with the 3DS and its sequel,

  • but the handheld was not enough to keep

  • the company's biggest franchises afloat

  • and sales of the Wii U painted a bleak picture

  • of the company's future in the living room.

  • Critics were telling Nintendo to exit

  • the console hardware market,

  • move everything to mobile, and call it a day.

  • So when the Switch was first unveiled,

  • fans were skeptical.

  • Some thought Nintendo had made another gimmicky device

  • with funky detachable controllers

  • and unorthodox docking system

  • and a mobile processor that can never match

  • Playstation or Xbox.

  • Despite these initial concerns,

  • the Switch proved to be a massive hit.

  • This month, after only nine months on the market,

  • Nintendo said it sold ten million units,

  • and many times that in software sales.

  • It stole the show this year as the fastest selling

  • home console in Nintendo's history,

  • setting the course for the company's resurgence

  • back to the forefront of the gaming market.

  • So how did Nintendo pull this off?

  • It's important to think of the Switch as

  • the evolution of the company's previous hardware.

  • It's always made wacky devices using nascent technologies

  • like 3D and motion control.

  • While an eye for innovation hasn't always paid off,

  • anyone remember their Virtual Boy?

  • The company has a history of success in handheld.

  • Starting with the GameBoy and more recently

  • with the Nintendo DS and the 3DS.

  • For the Switch, Nintendo put portability above all else

  • and the company struck gold.

  • You can play it on an airplane or in bed,

  • or even on a subway.

  • The device truly is a hybrid solution

  • that transforms to enjoy games

  • in a number of different ways.

  • Whether docked, handheld, or kickstand out using

  • the detachable Joy-Con.

  • There's versatility to choose how you want to play

  • and where.

  • It takes the concept of console gaming

  • and turns it into an on-the-go social experience

  • that gets you off your couch.

  • Yes, you can play at home alone,

  • but there are plenty of options for multi-player

  • using both split-screen play or local co-op.

  • This has always been a part of Nintendo's DNA.

  • Who doesn't love to play a friend in

  • Super Smash Brothers or Mario Cart?

  • And that's where the Switch's success story

  • becomes so heavily tied to its games.

  • Nintendo made sure the first year of the Switch

  • included The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

  • and Super Mario Odyssey.

  • Two incredible entries in two

  • of its most prolific franchises.

  • It's unheard of for a console to launch

  • with a Game of the Year contender

  • and it's even less likely for a console to get two of them

  • in its first year.

  • But Nintendo was smart and it had a new Mario

  • and a new Zelda game in the works for the Wii U

  • it moved development to its new console

  • and it shuffled its release schedule to make

  • them must-own Switch titles out of the gate.

  • Those two games have gone on to sell millions

  • and win multiple awards.

  • They also reestablished Nintendo as the influential

  • and innovative developer we've always known them to be.

  • You could easily argue that the Switch would never

  • have taken off without Nintendo's pre-built cache.

  • The company's behind some of the longest-running

  • most-beloved series since the beginning of gaming.

  • Characters like, Kirby, Yoshi, Donkey Kong.

  • They've become cultural icons that go way beyond

  • the core gaming demographic.

  • But when Nintendo's hardware fails,

  • fans have nowhere to play its games

  • and the company's reputation suffers

  • if people aren't buying its software.

  • Its entire business model depends

  • on its cultural significance.

  • So fans were desperately looking for a reason

  • to cheer Nintendo on, hoping it wouldn't just fade away

  • and peddle nostalgia.

  • They found that in the Switch.

  • The Switch is a Frankenstein of all the best ideas

  • Nintendo's ever had.

  • The 3DS showed Nintendo how a well-made handheld gaming

  • machine with great games could thrive in a

  • mobile-dominated landscape.

  • Much like the Switch, the Wii shied away from top-tier

  • graphics and realism in favor of motion controls,

  • local multi-player, and Nintendo's well-tested game design.

  • The Wii U was definitely flawed, but it was an important

  • stepping stone because it first introduced the idea

  • of merging mobile with a home console.

  • Where the Wii U was a tablet powered by a console

  • that sat plugged into your T.V.

  • The Switch was the inverse:

  • A console powered by a tablet.

  • So while the Wii U's tablet screen was clunky

  • and poorly designed and the device was a huge flop,

  • it did pave the way for Nintendo to incorporate these ideas,

  • alongside the benefits of the Wii

  • and the 3DS all into the Switch.

  • The Switch is a proper portable console

  • in all the ways the Wii U failed to be.

  • It's still too early to judge the overall impact

  • of the Switch.

  • Consumers have been more than happy to excuse its

  • bigger flaws because the first few games have been

  • so amazing.

  • But there's the online service that won't launch

  • until next year, there's the perpetual supply problems

  • that make just getting the thing an obnoxious struggle.

  • Nintendo fans will be less forgiving next year

  • when Zelda and Mario are old news

  • and it has to rely on other developers

  • to help its platform succeed.

  • But that's where the secret to the Switch's

  • long-term success might be.

  • Since launch, we've seen a bunch of interest

  • from indie game makers and even big name developers.

  • Some really great games like, Stardew Valley,

  • Axiom Verge, The Elderscrolls: Skyrim,

  • even the new Doom reboot have all made their way

  • to the Switch.

  • There's only gonna be more to come.

  • As it stands right now,

  • Nintendo is the only player in the portable gaming market.

  • And consumers have shown that they're really willing

  • to buy into its vision.

  • Sony already tried with its PSP and Vita handhelds.

  • And the company says it has no plans to make another one

  • any time soon.

  • Microsoft has also toyed with the idea

  • of portable gaming with handheld Xbox prototypes

  • in the past, but it's never taken the plunge.

  • Apple and other makers of Set-top boxes running Android,

  • they've all tried to bridge the smart phone game

  • market with a TV ecosystem,

  • but mobile games on big screens have never really

  • taken off.

  • But without a constant stream of hot new games to play,

  • amazing hardware becomes pretty much useless.

  • So it's up to developers to cement the Switch's future.

  • Sure, Nintendo's planning a bunch of new games

  • in its own franchises.

  • Like, a new Kirby, a new Pokemon, a much anticipated

  • reboot of Metroid Prime,

  • but those take years to make.

  • In the meantime, the company needs to quench the thirst

  • of players by working with devs to bring premium titles

  • that are fun, innovative, but also complex enough

  • to keep the Switch in the hands of consumers.

  • At least until the next Zelda game comes out.

  • Luckily, with all the consumer success

  • of the Switch,

  • Nintendo should have plenty of cash to do just that.

Ask any parent, 20-something,

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Why Nintendo Switch is the most innovative game console in years

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    Samuel posted on 2018/01/19
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