Nintendo Switch Rumours and Cautious Optimism

The Nintendo Switch is only two months away with a release window of March 2017. At a live presentation from Tokyo in just a few hours, Nintendo are expected to announce a specific release date, but perhaps more importantly, its price.

If recent rumours are to be believed, then the Switch will release on 17th March with the very attractive price of £200. UK retailer Gameseek posted both bits of information on their store. It is important to note that these may be placeholders and neither the suspected release date or price has been confirmed by Nintendo. Hopefully we’ll know the answers to these and many other questions after the presentation.

If the rumoured price turns out to be true, it would position the Switch to be very competitive indeed, costing around £50 less than its main competitors – the PS4 and Xbox One. My only concern is that this surely would leave Nintendo nowhere to go in terms of a price drop, if initial sales of the Switch were disappointing.

“Nintendo needs to come out of the gate strong with Switch.”

Nintendo needs to come out of the gate strong with Switchbut not just in terms of software. One of my biggest concerns about Switch is its availability – or lack thereof – at release. Historically, Nintendo have a tendency to purposefully manufacture scarcity by not producing enough units, giving general consumers the impression that units aren’t available due to high demand. This can work to boost sales as it gives the impression of a quality product. However, take the NES Classic as an example. This cutesy, quality, and by all means excellent £50 console is almost impossible to find anywhere. But why? It would have been a perfect Christmas gift for so many, if people had only been able to buy the thing.

The Switch’s reveal trailer was certainly interesting – offering a tantalising glimpse into the console/handheld hybrid future.  The trailer showed off some existing or already announced games (Skyrim, Splatoon, Zelda) as well as some previously unannounced titles (Mario, Mario Kart). All these IPs show that Nintendo has listened to feedback and are heavily focused on quality AAA games from their own 1st party studios and esteemed third parties alike.

Nintendo has always been great at one thing: games. Even though their hardware might not always succeed, they have produced some of the best games of all time, and generally on a lower spec machine than their competitors. In the world of raw processing power Nintendo has usually lagged behind its competitors, but not to its disadvantage. Mario Kart 8, in my opinion, is one of the best-looking games of this generation, all produced on graphically inferior hardware. This can work in Nintendo’s favour but they need to make a point of this by letting consumers know that graphics aren’t everything. Gameplay is, and that’s what they do better than everyone.

Where raw power might have an impact is Switch’s ability to attract third party developers. Nintendo needs developers to be able to port over their games from technically superior machines, over to Switch as easily as possible. The good thing is that Nintendo seems to know this: the reveal trailer showed off Skyrim running on Switch. Although Skyrim is now over five years old, it is still sure to attract some gamers, especially since being on Switch means that it will be playable on the go.

“If there was ever a time for Nintendo to take a safer option, this is it.”

Nintendo are known to take risks, but if there was ever a time for Nintendo to take a safer option, this is it. They lost a lot of consumer confidence as a result of the Wii U’s abject failure (13.5 million units sold is undoubtedly that). They need to work hard to regain that confidence and draw back lost fans. The way Nintendo is currently positioning the Switch puts them in good stead to do just that.