First off: congratulations to Nintendo for the successful debut of a new system; a great feat given the depressing release, life, and upcoming death of its former.
Do not go gentle into that good night, Wii U.
The words ‘Nintendo Switch’ have been hot out of every gamer’s mouth since its release; whether it is a journalist’s thinkpiece, the inevitable praising of Breath of the Wild as if it was the second coming of Jesus Christ himself, or general discussion on the system and its potential. The Nintendo Switch is bringing gamers back to a nostalgic time of anticipation and uncertainty; a dangerous road may be found ahead, here, take this…
The PlayStation Vita launched in 2011 with the premise of living up to Sony’s former handled iteration, the PlayStation Portable – which sold a whopping 82 million units (courtesy of piracy and easy-to-use CFW) in its lifetime – so the PlayStation Vita already had some steep competition, in addition Nintendo’s highly successful 3DS which had launched nine months before. So what happened to the PlayStation Vita? Well, Sony was clearly working on its next big thing: the PlayStation 4; a far superior, more-likely-to-sell machine with a market that showed promising growth. The handheld market, however, had already been conquered in their eyes. The PlayStation Vita quickly fell into a dark hole of indie promise; now don’t get me wrong, indie games these days can be incredible, but back then? Oh no, first-party support were the foundations to a successful system. It was the reassurance to the consumer that allowed them to justify the purchase. Indie games were nothing in comparison.
If you fast-forward to present day, independent games are keeping the PlayStation Vita alive, even if they aren’t all that great, but Nintendo are now breaching its market with not one, but two handheld systems. Let’s take a quick look at Nintendo’s history of supporting multiple systems at once: the 3DS, through its iterations, has received Nintendo’s constant support, the Wii U was left out in the cold because it sold less; it was irrelevant. It wasn’t meeting their standards in expected revenue. Judging by Nintendo’s failure to support more than one system at a time, and the fact that they are now breaching their own market with two systems can only mean bad news for the future of one of those systems. Back to indie games: the Nintendo Switch’s first-party line-up is, well, meh. There’s very little there that is new, but Nintendo have shown heavy promise for support from indie developers… Do you see where this is heading? Nod if so.
The interesting thought here is whether Sony is to allow Nintendo to take over the handheld market, or will they give them some competition with a new handheld – that certainly would force both companies to support their systems throughout their lifetimes without resulting in yet-again more disappointment and a dent in the wallets of consumers that expected much, much more.
In short: Nintendo just breached its own dominated handheld market with the Switch and the past shows a failure to support multiple systems at once. Indie games are to be considered the worthy filler content during the lack of a strong first-party line-up and uncertain first-party future, just like the PlayStation Vita.
My request to you readers is to try to fight these impulse purchases. That one game is not worth the cost of an entire system around its launch; wait until the content is there. Be a smart consumer. Remember, it’s all about the games, not the game.