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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.
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Why Nintendo Switch is the most innovative game console in years

3756 Folder Collection
Samuel published on September 2, 2018    irene Hu translated    April Lu reviewed
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