Last week, the Nintendo Switch release date, specifications and price were released to the paying public. Like many gamers, I had been awaiting this news for ages and dropped a preorder as soon as I could. Unfortunately, I have hovered over the cancel button every day since for a number of reasons. With March 3rd only a few weeks away, Nintendo has managed to do what they do best and dampen the flames of excitement with some big issues.
The Price – Retailing at $300 or £280, the console is around 10% overpriced in my opinion, even before you realise there is no game included. In real world technology terms, the Switch is very reasonably priced when you consider the hardware on offer. The equivalent tablets with the same horsepower are around 100 of your chosen currency more expensive. Unfortunately, the gaming world is not the real world. Most console manufacturers sell their hardware at a loss looking to get established in the market before making their money through licensing and more. If they had bundled a game or dropped the price a bit lower there would have been scope to get the console bundled with a game for the magical 300 price in either UK or the US. Bundled it with a pre-installed Zelda Breath of the Wild and you conquer the world. Instead, Nintendo says they want to give people the choice at launch. Believe me, there is no choice. To the hardcore who preordered, It will be Zelda or nothing. This brings starting price with a game to £340. Having recently got a PSVR at this price the funds are starting to run low.
The games – The most damning thing about the games is the price. They are £20 more expensive than the equivalent Xbox one or PS4 titles. This is simply unacceptable. They are back to the price of early N64 Games. For the undoubted excellence of Nintendo games, you are trying to tell me that Zelda will be a huge step ahead of a game like The Witcher 3? It won’t, it may be more polished and more fun but in terms of technical prowess, world building, storytelling and effort to make it won’t even be close. Nintendo needs to have parity of price on the games to even stand a chance of competing. At the minute the best way to get Zelda Breath of the Wild is to buy a Wii U instead. You will save around £150. Add this to the fact that the ‘other’ games coming this year look to have the same selling power as the Wii U had. You will get a remake of Mario Kart 8, a sequel to Splatoon, which may or may not be playable depending on Nintendo’s ability to get online multiplayer working and a new Mario at Christmas if we are lucky. That’s it for big hitters. I am old enough to remember my N64 with great pride. I defended it to the death with its four or five excellent games a year. Then I got a PS2 and had four or five games a month. They might not be timeless classics but excellent games. The world has moved on from a console that only delivers a few timeless classics. People now are more precious with their time. If they want to play a game, they want it right now. The huge library of games on other systems allows them to get what they want immediately to satisfy their short attention span. They are unlikely to wait until Christmas for Mario Odyssey, no matter how good it is.
You would hope that promised third party support would plug the gaps but already rumours are becoming true. FIFA is supposedly the PS3/Xbox360 build. Borderlands 3 which would have been perfect for linked Switches is not happening and Skyrim is again the original build. These are just three examples. How long before third party support goes the way of the WII U?
The accessories – Here is where Nintendo really struggle. The NES was the pioneer of accessories, but as we have progressed through the generations from the Super Scope to the elite Xbox Controller and PSVR we have noticed one trend. An amazing amount of hype, before dust gathering. Unless you fully commit as a consumer and get all the available games for them, you are unlikely to get the value out of them. Certainly, this is the approach needed with the PSVR. Nintendo has another problem altogether. They seem to think that people will accept poorly thought out decisions. There are a few noticeable already. The worst is the Joypad adapter. This is the piece of plastic that the Joycons slide onto to make a ‘real controller’. While on the standard version they do not charge up. That’s right, they don’t charge while you are using them. So if they run out, you can’t game. But never fear there is a solution. For just £27.99 Nintendo will sell you the finished version that does charge them. Apple can get away with weirdness like this to an extent by marketing themselves as the premium product. Nintendo, have not had that reputation since the SNES.
The second issue is the amount of storage. 32GB internal is again pathetic. The recent Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare/Modern Warfare Remastered takes 100GB, Halo 5 will be close to the same after all updates are added. 32 is not acceptable in this day and age. Before anyone says, you don’t need internal storage as the save games will all be on cartridge think of how used to digital games we have become. Say Nintendo need to patch a game or release some extensive DLC. Is this option now dead to them? Can they no longer fix broken games or add new maps? Live in the real world. You are going to have to pay more to upgrade this storage. We don’ even know how much of the internal storage is taken up by the operating system. To make this equivalent to a base level modern console could cost you upwards of £200. Eventually, industry standards will allow a 2TB card but what will this cost? A pro controller for serious gamers is £80 and the other bits and bobs are similarly overpriced. If this is to be tricked out to be your main console, then it is going to cost a lot of money.
Despite this, I still have an active Nintendo Switch preorder. How long it stays is anyone’s guess. The WII U hurt me badly with poor games and lack of any ‘modern’ infrastructure. I can only hope the same is not true of the Nintendo Switch.