2020 will be an interesting year for the gaming industry as both Sony and Microsoft prepare to launch their respective next-generation platforms: the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Both systems are touting notable boosts in hardware power, with the term “8K” being thrown around a lot. Meanwhile, Nintendo continues to hold steady on its course with the modest Switch family of systems.
With the release of the Switch Lite last year, the gulf between the performance of the Switch and other systems is quite wide. The platform is already challenging to work with when it comes to bringing some of today’s games over, so imagine next-gen titles.
Despite the difference in capabilities, one developer that has experience with working on Switch ports isn’t too concerned about how the hybrid will fare against the upcoming systems. This developer is Ruud van de Moosdijk, VP at the Engine Software studio. In an interview with Nintendo Everything, Moosdijk expressed that he feels that “like the Wii before, [Switch] exists in its own dimension of the market…” For this reason, Moosdijk thinks that the launch of PS5 and Xbox Series X will have only a minimal effect on the Switch’s livelihood. Here is his full statement:
“In my opinion the Nintendo Switch, like the Wii before, exists in its own dimension of the market and will continue to do well even when the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are released. As so many times before Nintendo’s consoles have just their own uniqueness that doesn’t depend on having the fastest processor or the largest memory. That’s why I always have to smile when I hear someone say Nintendo is done.”
Have we seen this before?
It is interesting that Moosdijk pointed to the success of the Wii as an example of Nintendo holding its own against more powerful competitors. He is right but to an extent.
The Wii managed to sell over 100 million units in its six years as Nintendo’s home console front-runner. It is still the best selling home console from the company ever. So, for the Switch to be compared to that is a good thing. However, there are some factors worth taking into the context.
The Wii’s success is largely attributed to how it managed to spark interest in an audience that previously was hardly there in the gaming sector: casual players. This refers to people who never really played video games before, or may have merely dabbled in them in the past. The Wii caught their attention with titles like Wii Sports, Wii Fit and Just Dance and ended up becoming a global fad. But, like all fads, the novelty eventually wained and that same massive demographic tapered off into other areas, like mobile gaming.
Meanwhile, the Switch has been finding success primarily with established gamers (of a variety of ages). While a sector of casual players has also become reinterested, it doesn’t appear to be to the same extent as the original Wii.
From a development standpoint, things are also still a little different. The Wii could in no way match the power of the PS3 and 360 due to only being a standard definition machine. The Switch, thankfully, is an HD system like the others. It also has a modern design architecture that makes porting far easier than in the days of the Wii.
But, sometimes sacrifices still need to be made to bring modern, graphically-intensive games to the Switch. This is going to become more daunting when next-gen games start hitting the market. Only time will tell to see just how many studios take on the task.
The one thing the Switch will continue to have going for it is a sizeable install base. Even if it’s weak, the numbers don’t lie. This console is still selling well nearly three years into its life, and interest has yet to wane. So, as long as consumers remain engaged, it would be in the best interest of developers and publishers to continue their support.