Is the Nintendo Switch future proof?
We are three weeks in with Nintendo Switch, and, apparently, is sold out and nowhere to be found.
According to reports, in fact, the console sale are defined ‘phenomenal’. While the AJ Styles nickname might be an overstatement, the launch was really good for Nintendo. And Zelda: Breath of The Wild, beyond being the highest rated game of the year, outsold Wii Sport in terms of console+game launch. It’s unique, considering the sport game was sold in bundle with the original Wii in multiple countries.
Of course, the sales are slowing down, which is a common thing after launch.
And, no, I’m not going to talk about the slim title offer, which will ultimately be the console’s Tombstone if that won’t be enriched.
Yet, there are so many question around the device that might be an explanation why not a lot of third parties announced anything.
While it might just be because they want to know if the console is selling or not, is the nature of the console itself to confuse them.
Firstly, is a reason to be both excited and dubious. The Nintendo Switch, like smartly suggested by the name, is both a home console and a handheld, giving us the ability to be able to use is whenever, wherever at the best conditions. Which is cool from a user point of view. From a producer point of view, there’s the need for a double optimization depending on the output. It happened with Zelda, even though it was only for a really brief section at the beginning of the game. Nothing unpatchable, obviously. And, anyways, not too expensive.
Another technical issue is that hardware wise doesn’t offer a proper chance of porting for most titles. While Skyrim is getting one (but let’s remember it was made for PS3 and X360), as well as Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (which anyways doesn’t look to require too much horsepower), more recent multi-platform title which could potentially have a client target suitable to the Switch find themselves halted due to a too expensive porting cost. An example could be Final Fantasy XV: a game which would considerably raise the overall sales number of the title, director Hajime Tabata already confirmed it won’t come on Nintendo console. To my surprise, the new South Park game, enigmatically called The Fractured But Whole, won’t will be making it’s way to Switch, as well as its predecessor.
If for the Square-Enix game it’s clear that the limit is technical, for the new South Park game is only a matter of not considering a port worth the trouble. Even though is perhaps the most portable of all.
During these days, Conan Exiles was confirmed to be not coming to Switch. While I completely agree that the hyper violence of the game makes it unsuitable for Nintendo Switch target, it also occurred to me that MMOs could give Switch a better chance to establish itself. Imagine Final Fantasy XIV, one of the most popular MMOs in the world and probably the most popular in Japan, be available on Switch, It would push the sale considerably. Yet this is not the case, due to the total absence of a 4G/5G ready module.
And this is what comes down to my analysis.
Nintendo Switch is not a current generation console yet surely not a next generation, is not a home console yet not only a handheld (which, again, is a plus),it is a tablet but it doesn’t offer many functionalities of the average one, it could be totally handheld with a cellular module but it doesn’t have one…
Switch seems to be that device that was rushed in production, and being in the middle of everything without really proposing an innovation or being suited to last more than 3 years.
Once that the 5G will be available in a great number of countries (and more than just the ones we would expect), Cloud gaming will be possible anywhere we are. Which brings up the actual reason behind home console, let alone a Switch. All tablets, laptops, smartphones will be able to access any cloud service at any time.
Imagine me with my Nvidia Shield Tablet going around and playing in full HD a game like The Witcher 3. I’m not counting the fact that is possible to plug the Nvidia tablet to the TV, in a mode that supports up to 4K output, also supported by the Nvidia cloud gaming service.
If Nintendo Switch was a full fledged smartphone, given the nature of those industries, we might be accepting the idea of a yearly hardware upgrade, let alone if it was every 3 or 4 years. Unfortunately, the gaming industry requires to have a certain longevity. And it doesn’t appear to me this console has any.
And I’m someone that sooner or later will buy the console, not a hater. It’s just that rationally, though, I don’t see a bright situation.