On January 12, 2017, #Nintendo is set to fully unveil their new console/handheld hybrid, the Nintendo Switch. Rumors have been flying on an almost weekly basis for at least the last six months about what the Switch is, what games are coming out for it, and what its capabilities are. Nintendo is hopefully going to answer most of these questions at the January 12th conference.
This is going to be Nintendo's official declaration that their new gaming system is here--the age of the Switch has begun.
The Switch needs to surpass its predecessor, the Wii U, at every level to be successful. For those that follow Nintendo and the game industry closely, this may seem obvious. But as we know from past #GamingSystems that haven't lived up to expectations, the fundamentals are important. Let's take a look at what Nintendo's up against:
Nintendo traditionally isn't a proponent of selling super-expensive video game machines. The Wii U was $300-$350 for its whole lifespan. It was Nintendo's most expensive game system, and also its lowest-selling.
Expect the Switch to be cheaper than the Wii U was. A safe guess would be in the $200-$300 range, possibly with multiple SKUs. If the Super Mario platformer (or any other game) we saw in the October Switch trailer is packed in with the system, we could see the price tilting more toward $300.
What Nintendo absolutely cannot do is overprice the system, like what happened with the 3DS launch. But I think that lesson has been learned. If the Switch is over $300 without some sort of pack-in game, many will be shocked.
2. Third-Party Support
Nintendo has grown to be one of the biggest video game publishers in the world, and they're expanding and getting bigger. But they can't do it alone. Third-party support is essential to any successful system.
The #WiiU was missing this critical element, but with Switch's portability, Nintendo may have finally found a way to harness third-party support for their handheld systems and bring it to a home console.
The general vibe about Switch from third-party developers has been positive so far. Even Bethesda and Take-Two have voiced their support for the system. Whether that turns into actual games for Switch remains to be seen. It's up to Nintendo to make Switch a system developers can't resist making games for. Which is why number three is so critical.....
3. Amazing Launch Games
If Nintendo wants to show third-party developers they mean business with Switch, they must bring the thunder at launch, and then follow it up. The first six to nine months of the Switch's life are going to be critical to its success. Super Mario, Zelda, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, Splatoon, and a #Pokemon game of some sort have all been rumored to be either coming out at launch, or close to launch. That is a very good sign.
We all know Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is going to be big, but that won't be enough on its own. Nintendo needs to show third-party developers that they are serious about Switch. Come out of the launch gates at full sprint, show third-parties what Switch can do with strong first-party titles, establish a strong install base in the first six to nine months, and third-parties will come.
Gamers will be happy. Nintendo will be happy. Third-party developers will be happy. All will be right with the world.
4. Online Gaming
Online gaming is something Nintendo has been making slow but sure improvements with over the years. They've come a long way since debuting Mario Kart DS as their first online game in 2005. And they had arguably the biggest sleeper hit of 2015 with the online-centric Splatoon.
With the strong rumors of Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, and Splatoon games coming for Switch within the first six months of launch, Nintendo's continued support and improvement to their online gaming infrastructure would make Switch owners happy and satisfied. It doesn't need to be on par with #XboxLive (although that would be great if it was), just stable and consistent.
5. Virtual Console/Classic Games
One of Nintendo's biggest inconsistencies of the last ten years is their support for their Virtual Console service. The popularity and demand of the NES Classic should be the definitive proof that Nintendo needs about games from past generations—because up to this point, they haven't gotten the message.
There are signs Nintendo may be altering their approach with the Virtual Console into something more consistent. The Super Nintendo games that have been coming to the 3DS Virtual Console have been great so far. Also, even though Nintendo is getting ready to retire it, the Wii U has still been steadily getting Virtual Console releases.
However, there is significant room for improvement in this area. It basically comes down to marketing and consistent support. As successful as the #Wii was, the majority of Wii owners had no idea the Virtual Console even existed. Nintendo didn't market the service, and they resigned themselves to relying on hardcore Nintendo fans to support it.
As we now know thanks to the demand for the #NESClassic (and as many of us have long suspected), Nintendo is sitting on 30 years of largely untapped nostalgia. It could be a huge boon for the Switch if Nintendo could find a way to market that nostalgia through the #VirtualConsole to a mainstream audience. Hopefully, that would lead to more consistent game support for the service from Nintendo and third-party developers.
Although easier said than done, if Nintendo can do all of the above well, the Switch will almost assuredly be a success for Nintendo, and for the video game industry in general. It's always a special time in the industry when Nintendo reveals and releases a new game system. On January 12th, we'll know a lot more about how Nintendo will answer the call.
What do you want to see Nintendo do with Switch? What games would you like to see at launch? Are you planning on buying the system at launch, or are you wait and see? Leave your comments below!