Games. Culture.

Nintendo Switch: One Year Later

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Transcript: It’s been over a year since the release of the Nintendo Switch and even though its time out in the wild has been limited; there’s a lot to unpack as far as its impact and current status. January of last year, I was personally in fear of whether or not the console would be a success due to a god-awful reveal presentation. However, between then and now, I’ve never been so glad to have been proven wrong. The Switch is not only doing well, it’s selling faster than we’ve seen any other console sell in the past. It’s already become home to some of the best games of the generation. Indies and re-releases are giving the platform viability while anticipated releases are creating excitement for the future. The Switch has a lot going for it right now, so let’s break it all down.

The Nintendo Switch released at a time when Nintendo was at its most vulnerable. The Wii U had cemented itself as a commercial failure and signaled a possible end of an era for Nintendo. Gone were the heights of the NES and Super Nintendo. Lack of third party support, an inferior system, and a multitude of strange business decisions were the plight of the Wii U and Nintendo as a company. This was the environment that the Switch released into. And even though the concept of a portable home console seemed promising, the Switch’s success was not guaranteed. Thankfully it pulled through because of a few factors.

Games sell consoles and the Nintendo Switch doesn’t come without its share of fabulous games. It of course released with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild (the greatest game of all time) and from there sort of slowly trickled out big releases such as Splatoon 2, and Mario Odyssey. One thing to note, one of the Wii U’s biggest mistakes was its lack of third party content. Thankfully the Switch has this as well. Not an abundance of this as I’ll touch on in a second, but enough for the time being. Releases like Sonic Mania, Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle (made by Ubisoft), and others have helped fill out the catalog. Aside from general new first party and third party releases, there are two most important factors when it comes to software on the Switch: Indies and re-releases.

One of the most fascinating things about watching The Switch grow and develop has been following the trends and comparing said trends to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Now, for the beginning years of the Xbox and PS4 there was a notable lack of big new releases. A common notion was that there was an excessive amount of remasters on the platforms as opposed to new games. This was somewhat true but not without good reason. There was skepticism going into the new console generation that consoles were dying and PC gaming was going to take over the market. Because of this, publishers and developers slowed down development on new games. Once the skepticism proved to be false as PlayStation and Xbox sold phenomenally, development on big AAA games moved forward. This still left a gap in that opening period as new games take years to make and evolving technology meant longer development cycles thus leading to remasters, re-releases, and collections to fill in the gaps.

The Nintendo Switch is in a similar period. Nintendo is fully supporting the Switch with first party games however third party support for the platform won’t arrive unless publishers see that the Switch is selling enough to justify releasing on the platform. Because of this, Nintendo has actively been partnering with big publishers such as Ubisoft and Bethesda to gain that third party support. And thankfully the Switch is killing it in sales and so we can prepare to see third party games come naturally. In the stead of big new releases, we’ve been getting a deluge of remasters and ports and while on the PS4 and Xbox One, this was a minor annoyance, on the Switch I’m all about it and you should be too. The benefit of the Nintendo Switch is that it offers an entirely new way to play games and so taking Dark Souls or Skyrim on the go is a welcome experience because it’s a truly new way to play. It’s something that in 2011, I never imagined I would be able to do.

Not only are remasters filling in the gaps, indies are too. The Nintendo Switch comes at a very welcome time. We are currently in the heyday of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That means we are seeing games like God of War, Detroit Become Human, Red Dead Redemption 2 and other huge games release seemingly one after another, back to back. A lot of mindshare is being shifted toward these huge games, not giving smaller games the space to breathe and shine. The Nintendo Switch currently exists in a space where not only are indie games finding their own space, the Switch’s unique functionality is providing a phenomenal way to play these games. It’s no coincidence that indie devs are citing higher sales numbers on the Nintendo Switch over any other platform. The portability of the console, the slick screen, the zeitgeist around it, and other attributing factors is allowing for an astronomical attach rate and Nintendo knows and sees that this is the case. They’ve even been capitalizing on the indie craze with their push for Nindies and it’s turning the Switch into the ubiquitous indie gaming platform.

There’s a lot to look forward to in terms of the future of the Nintendo Switch. Upcoming releases such as Super Smash Bros, Pokemon, and Metroid Prime 4 are building anticipation for what’s to come. There’s of course improvements to be made to the hardware, most notably the online infrastructure that we will get more information on in September. But for now, the Switch is doing what it needs to and it’s seeing the success it needs to in order to be a viable platform. And for year one, that’s the best we can ask for. Go get’em Nintendo.

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