£280. That’s a lot of money. It’s more than the 4K capable Xbox One S or the slimmer PlayStation 4. It’s almost four 2DSs, or two 3DSs. Rumours had suggested somewhere around £200-£250, but no: the Nintendo Switch is going to cost £280.
That price, along with the price of its games and peripherals, may have just sealed an early fate for the much-esteemed upcoming console.
It’s old tech. While Nintendo haven’t explicitly announced the specs (and probably for good reason), we know it’s something akin to a two-year old tablet, or a Nvidia Shield. Nvidia Shield retails for around £150, and well, we all know how cheap we can get Android tablets for. Of course, this isn’t Shield; this isn’t some crappy Android tablet: you can play Mario and Zelda on it. That’s worth the hike in price, right?
I know there’s more to it than ‘just a tablet’; the dock adds to the price, as do the fanciful, if not a little gimmicky, JoyCon controllers. It’s designed from the ground up to be a games machine, with a focus on fun and social elements. Still… £280?
Leaving aside the price of the console itself for a while, let’s look at the prices of its accessories, peripherals, and all-important games.
Alongside pre-orders for the console itself, pre-orders for games also went live today. While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will cost you a reasonable £40 on Wii U, it will set you back £60 on Switch. Sixty quid. Preorders for Mario, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and a number of other titles also sit at £60; ‘smaller’ titles are slightly less, with Arms currently priced at £50 and 1-2 Switch priced at £40 (though one could argue that 1-2 Switch should just be bundled with the console…). At £60, Nintendo aren’t going to be shifting a lot of titles.
The Switch is dropping the universally-accepted disc-based media and returning to the heyday of cartridges, much like the 3DS uses. Some have argued that cartridge-based media justifies a higher price, but does it really? We’ve never paid anywhere close to £60 for our 3DS games, so why should we be expected to pay almost double for a Switch game?
The peripherals that are being sold separately from the console are currently listed at ridiculously high prices too. The Pro Controller, which is being marketed heavily as an essential item for TV gaming, will cost you £65. For comparison, you can buy a DS4 right now for £43, and an Xbox One pad for £35. If you need extra JoyCons – or need to replace your own – a pair is £75 and a singular left or right unit is £43. Even an official screen protector – a 6-inch thin piece of plastic – costs £15.
All in all, owning a Nintendo Switch is going to be a very lofty affair, if you ever expect to get any use out of it.
Sure, pre-orders for the console itself have already sold out – on Amazon UK at least. I got my pre-order in. But this isn’t always a great indication as to how a piece of hardware is going to fare once it’s out in the wild, especially considering we have no idea how many units were even made available to pre-order (just look at the Mini NES over Christmas…). No matter the price of the Switch, there was always going to be a band of hardcore fans who would support Nintendo’s latest endeavour regardless of cost. It’s when it’s on the shelves, stacked up against PS4s and Xbox Ones, likely bundled with games and extras for a much cheaper price, that Nintendo might find themselves in hot water.
The Wii U released in 2012 at a similar price point – higher than people expected, and more than most were willing to play for a console that they were probably only going to play a handful of games on. Lots of people put its higher price as a key reason for its failure. Nintendo don’t seem to be worried though; they’re happy to launch into the market, asking the same amount of money again.
Maybe I’m wrong. In a way I hope I am; I’d like to see Nintendo thrive again like they once did, at the top of their game. It’s just looking less and less likely, and being a bit too greedy with their pricing might just be the nail in the coffin.