The Nintendo Switch is for gamers like me. I already own the PS4 and Xbox One, so I don’t really require third-party games on a primary console. Moreover, the Switch will have games that are right up my ally. I love Nintendo games at their purest. Games like Zelda, Splatoon, and Mario are titles that I adore. Meanwhile, JRPGs announced for the system like Shin Megami Tensei, Dragon Quest, Xenoblade 2, and Project Octopath Traveler come from some of my favorite video game franchises. After I pick up my Switch, I will likely have hundreds and hundreds of hours of great fun.
Interestingly enough, however, the Wii U fit a similar description. The console was for gamers like me. The Wii U also had a ton of first-party games that I adored, as well as Japanese and second-party games that provided the console sustenance. I didn’t really need third-party games or modern graphics on the Wii U either, and I ended up putting hundreds and hundreds of hours into the system by the time the console’s life came to an end.
The Nintendo Switch, I fear, appeals to a market that is far too narrow, one which is similar to Wii U. The console is perfect for gamers like me, but unfortunately there aren’t many gamers like me around. The Wii U sales indicated that there wasn’t a built in market for Nintendo platforms alone. Moreover, Japanese games historically perform relatively poorly in the West, indicating that a Switch exclusive like Shin Megami Tensei likely won’t be the Switch’s savior in North America. Most importantly, the majority of households own just a single console – can Nintendo convince families that its console is worth owning?
So far, Nintendo has failed to position the Switch as a must-own proposition. At this point, buying a PS4 Slim costs just $300, and an Xbox One S can often be found for even cheaper: $250. Nintendo’s console is unable to out-compete the others in price and must do so on software and uniqueness… just like last time around?
Unfortunately, when the Wii U sold at the same price as the competing consoles, with a good first-party lineup, along with limited third-party support it was not enough. Though the console satiated my desire for gaming while it was active, mainstream gaming as shifted toward a different palette. Instead of picking up a unique system like the Switch, standard systems with regular third-party support and on-par graphics thrived.
Nintendo’s presentation indicates that it has no interest in reforming its ways in one direction or another. The company began with debuting casual games, then moved onto niche titles, alongside a few big-hitting Nintendo titles, that will do little to convince the uninitiated to pick up a Nintendo platform. Perhaps Nintendo has more announcements in the coming days and months for the West, but until that happens it seems like their new console lays squarely for those that bought their last: hardcore Nintendo fans.