Hopes and Expectations For the Nintendo Switch Presentation
This is it, people. The moment has come. At the time of writing, there are just 13 hours left until Nintendo lifts the veil on their latest console and it promises to be one hell of an event!
Of course, we already know some of what the console is about. A trailer released back in October to a flurry of excitement, and a sigh of relief from many expectant fans, revealed that Nintendo’s latest device is set to be a handheld/home console hybrid. Complete with detachable controllers and a sleek tablet that looks set to make gaming on the go an easy yet just as exciting experience as gaming at home, Nintendo has possibly locked onto a sure fire winner.
With the presentation being so hyped up, though, what can we actually expect to see from it? Well, as it turns out, a lot. Aside from revealing the basic concept for the console, the first trailer for the Switch didn’t actually reveal all that much about it. This means we’ll be getting bombarded with information such as release date, pricing, game line-up and likely even console specs. There have been a lot of rumours flying around regarding the Nintendo Switch. Some plausible, so laughable, but below I’ll talk about in a bit more depth, just what to expect from Nintendo’s Switch presentation.
The reveal that everyone is waiting for with baited breath. Nintendo needs to absolutely nail its pricing strategy if it wants the Switch to sell. Both the Wii U and 3DS were originally released at high price points nobody really wanted to pay, especially given the initial lack of games on the system, but while it’s sounding likely the Switch won’t have a games issue (more below) Nintendo still risks alienating customers through a price point that’s just too damn high. It’s a complicated process as there seems to be a lot going on inside the Switch. Not only has Nintendo partnered with Nvidia to provide the Switch with a custom processor, the tablet, docking station and power of the system will all contribute towards moving that price higher and higher.
At the same time, though, rumours have been swirling around as to the systems actual price. Prices ranging from £200-£400 have been spotted at various retailers, with UK store Game even putting up a pre-order placeholder price of £999.99. Whilst that price is certain to drop right down, the question still remains at to just what the system is going to cost? With all these different prices making the rounds it’s impossible to single one out, but if Nintendo really wants this to succeed, then the sweet spot is likely between £250-£300. Starting at £250 suggests the console has some definite power to it, and would certainly look appealing to consumers.
The Switch landing at £300 seems more likely to me and depending on how well it runs and the unique features it offers, could certainly stand with the likes of the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio when that eventually releases. At this price, the system may even hold more storage space similar to the deluxe edition of the Wii U (though hopefully way, way higher), and would likely even come bundled with a game or two. The very most Nintendo could sell the system for would be £350, but it would be a significant risk. Selling at that high price would depend on how well the system runs and how attractive the handheld aspect is. Given an Xbox One S can be bought for much cheaper, and a PS4 Pro for the same price, Nintendo would really have to make it worth people’s while to invest in their machine.
On the whole, though, I imagine the system will land at the £250 mark. I could be way off, but it seems like a comfortable price for Nintendo to convince those who may have jumped ship after the Wii era. Whatever it ends up being, though, you can expect to hear about it during the presentation.
Less room for speculation here which, trust me, is a good thing. Nintendo has so far stuck to their March release date, and with that only a couple of months away it seems likely the dates are locked in. So we know what month the Switch is releasing, but what’s the actual date going to be? Nintendo are probably going to release over a weekend for maximum impact, and looking at previous release dates, a Sunday might be the most likely candidate. We can likely rule out the first week in March, Nintendo is never usually that prompt, plus it has that February lead in, which gives three possible weekends for the release to land on.
I personally believe the release will land on a Friday, giving people an entire weekend to pick up the console as they please, provided Nintendo doesn’t yet again have stock issues. Whilst this writer is predicting a March 17th release, placing it firmly at the month’s midway point, anything is game. However, a March 24th release date would land directly on a certain someone’s payday, so maybe go for that Nintendo? Please.
Arguably the most important aspect of any system, if the games aren’t there, the customers won’t be either. Nintendo already learnt this lesson with both the 3DS and Wii U, both of which launched with a disappointingly sparse line-up of games. The Wii U, in particular, launched with only a few first party games, and a large amount of less than adequate third party ports. Hopefully, Nintendo has learnt from their mistakes this time round, and support for the Switch will be present from all sides. Current rumours call the Switch launching with a solid 15 games with more releasing at a consistent rate throughout the following months. What Nintendo has hopefully ensured this time round is that the third party support is present. Lack of this is part of what doomed the Wii U, but yet again the rumour mill suggests we might be in luck.
It sounds like the launch numbers will be strong then, but that won’t matter if there are no exciting games. Luckily this is Nintendo, so that’s all but guaranteed. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is looking set to finally release, whilst Nintendo could also have a new 3D Mario game ready for launch. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. The Switch looks to have support from a rather large array of third party developers, and the initial reveal trailer suggested titles such as Skyrim and NBA 2K would be coming to the system. Imagine the recently released Skyrim Special Edition being present on a Nintendo console on launch day. The ability to play it on the go is enticing indeed, so Nintendo would do well to make a big deal of it.
Outside the obvious and the hinted at, it’s going to be a complete surprise what Nintendo reveals during the presentation. Expect such flagship Nintendo franchises such as Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Kirby and more to potentially make an appearance, but in what form is unclear. Given the Switch looks set to merge Nintendo’s handheld and home console departments together, all the games that would have otherwise be spread across two systems will now be coming to just the one. Of course, Nintendo is still supporting the 3DS (the Wii U is all but dead at this point) but what we’ve seen coming to the 3DS this year isn’t exactly mind boggling. Watered down ports of Wii U games such as Yoshi’s Woolly World, an admittedly intriguing Pikmin platformer and a Mario sports mix game don’t exactly scream innovation, so it certainly looks as if Nintendo’s focuses are shifting permanently towards the Switch. As a result, expect to see some crazy announcements come out of this presentation.
This part is less likely than the rest. Unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo rarely talks much about the specs of their systems. Unlike a Microsoft conference where you can expect to hear the word Terraflops bandied around a few dozen times, Nintendo takes a more subdued approach to the technological aspects of their systems. Still, Nintendo really needs to prove themselves this time around, so whilst they may not go as deep into things as other gaming companies might, expect there to be some talk.
What Nintendo really needs to sell is the handheld side of things. If we’re going to have a handheld that plays games such as Breath of the Wild and Skyrim, it’s going to have to be pretty beefy. The last thing you want is to be playing on the go, hindered by jagged frame rates and poor optimisation. It’s an aspect I’m not sure Nintendo will be able to truly sell people on until they actually have on in their hands. A big problem whenever companies show something off nowadays is that people mostly view it through live streams and Youtube videos. Due to the way these videos are all compressed, as well as the fact that the picture is usually blown up, the quality is often less than desirable. This causes people to jump to hasty conclusions without giving things a chance. Nintendo really needs to show that the handheld is capable of running these games well before people judge. Messaging is crucial here, and given Nintendo’s problems with that in the past, it is a bit of a worry.
Ok, so I’ve gone through everything we expect Nintendo to talk about during the presentation, but what surprises would it be awesome if Nintendo threw in there?
I for one am hoping they finally nail the online aspect of things. The initial Switch reveal trailer suggested they were maybe targeting an older audience, so hopefully the company will be moving away from their archaic traditions. Voice chat, a unified account system, the ability to actually communicate with your friends through the console. The Playstation and Xbox brands have been nailing all this for years now, and if Nintendo doesn’t finally get with the times, they will fail. Throw friend codes in the rubbish where they belong. Have a friends list that isn’t just a list, but actually lets you ask your friends if they want to join a game, that lets us interact with one another. Implement universal voice chat so we don’t have to open up an entirely separate device just to talk with friends as we game together. There’s a lot Nintendo can do to improve how they tackle online and hopefully add a dash of their trademark Nintendo magic to make it unique.
As well as online, Nintendo can do a lot to improve how they approach the Virtual Console. Ever since it was introduced on the Wii, Nintendo has been forcing people to buy these games over and over on each subsequent system. I say forcing, but for all the complaining there is about this issue, people could always just not re-buy the same game. Still, Nintendo would certainly please their fans if they were to announce during the presentation that all Virtual Console releases on the Wii U and 3DS will be available day one on the Switch and that they can simply transfer their existing purchases over. The steady process of unifying the Nintendo Network ID is a step in the right direction and suggests Nintendo might be about to make this next step, as it could certainly see a lot more people buying into Virtual Console releases.
It has become very apparent that the toys-to-life market has been quickly fading over the past year. Disney Infinity was flat out cancelled, whilst the latest Skylanders releases have failed to make an impact. Lego Dimensions, of course, has the strength of the Lego brand behind it, as well as the countless franchises present in the game (it also helps that they’re really the only toys-to-life figures that can be used as actual toys) but where does all this leave Amiibo. It’s hard to believe it’s been over two years since the figures were first released, but after a significant first year on the market, 2016 saw the craze die down. Not only has Nintendo released a figure for just about every notable character they have through the Smash Bros line, but the uses for Amiibo in recent times have become increasingly bare.
What I hope to see from Nintendo during the presentation then is a recommitment to Amiibo. I’d be more than happy to get an Amiibo centric game akin to Lego Dimensions or Skylanders that takes us through Nintendo’s vast catalogue of IP, and I imagine it would reinvigorate interest in the figures. It’s all well and good releasing different versions of characters, but if there is no real meaningful use for them, why should we bother buying them.
These I think are three of the main things Nintendo needs to get right with the Switch. The way 2016 has gone, it may have been a quieter year for the company in terms of what they did and the games they released, but it seems interest in Nintendo grew and grew throughout the course of last year. Interest in the Switch is thankfully high, and Nintendo is riding the wave from an enormously successful year for Pokemon. It’s now time for them to capitalise on this renewed sense of interest. If Nintendo truly nails the Switch. The features, the marketing, the games, then this could be the start of the company’s resurgence.
As it stands, the Switch has the chance to be something new and unique and exciting and huge. The Switch has the chance to put raise Nintendo up again, and it all starts with this one presentation.
The Nintendo Switch Presentation will be live streamed from 4am GMT/2pm AEST/8pm PT/11pm ET. Watch it here:
Joe has reached peak levels of hype now and risks bursting into an embarrassingly frenzied Nintendo hype dance. If that didn’t scare you off then he’ll also be live-tweeting the event, so follow him @resonantrevs on Twitter if you want to see some crazy reactions.