It’s hard to believe that Nintendo was once the king of gaming. A pinnacle of innovation and game technology, yet they became drunk on their own power. Slowly, but surely, Nintendo’s supporters dwindled and eventually it could only support itself. Starting with the Nintendo 64 with its archaic cartridge based system, and eventually culminating with the Wii U, which nearly saw no support from third parties. Yet, somehow, they refuse to change their ways and if this continues, their downward spiral will continue until Nintendo’s reputation is ruined. But if the Nintendo Switch is any example, then we can’t expect any alterations to their methodology.
Nintendo’s path has always been one of innovation, but as it was stated in a video by The Game Theorist, it often appears this is not what the market wants. While in the beginning, their creativity extended mostly to the games themselves, after the GameCube era, Nintendo decided it was time to shift gears. No longer was it about creating peripherals that added on to the experience, but rather making games based around the so-called “gimmicks” of the consoles. The Nintendo DS had the secondary touchscreen, and the Wii utilized gyroscopic controllers. Both of these consoles used them arguably well and, as such, yielded an amazing public response for Nintendo.
The company experienced a renaissance era for the first time in a decade, stock prices exploded, and Nintendo believed it could do no wrong. They were seriously wrong. By the year 2011, Nintendo had lost a lot of faith from their user base. People who wanted the console had to deal with an endless amount of terrible third party shovelware and terrible downgraded ports for current games. The DS successor, the 3DS, confused customers with its name and left others wondering where Nintendo had gone wrong; that is everyone except gamers themselves.
Gamers had been telling Nintendo exactly what they wanted for years: it wasn’t gimmicks, it was fun gameplay and great storylines ones which they could be proud of experiencing. But Nintendo didn’t listen and instead produced yet another gimmicky console with the Wii U. A console which still stands as Nintendo’s biggest testament of its refusal to change. They created another gyroscopic controller, but this one had a small tablet like screen in the middle which could be used in tandem to the television. To the surprise of almost no one, the Wii U failed in almost every level it promised.
The tablet was barely used, third party support dropped like flies, games were not releasing, and if they did, the promises made for them were not even kept. Even Nintendo themselves, who are often known for their creative gaming designs, did not know what how to maximize the use of the tablet. The promised multiplayer with two tablets never even came to be, as support for their own console died. Just look at Star Fox Zero and their awful use of the controller for an example, or Splatoon‘s local multiplayer for another reason why the console was being trashed. Eventually, the only good use that the gamepad tablet had was it provided off-screen gameplay in case someone else wanted to use the television. It was an idea that in paper was great but, in execution, was a complete disaster. Now Nintendo decided that it was time to innovate once again with their latest console, the Nintendo Switch, a console which takes the idea of off-screen gameplay to its logical extreme, while also including gyroscopic controllers.
Once again, Nintendo decided that it wanted to listen to its own think tank of eccentrics and produce exactly what did not sell their last generation. But this is not like the ill-fated Virtual Boy, which had no precedent at that point in time, and was absolutely an experiment of disastrous proportions. This time around, Nintendo is blatantly ignoring what they did wrong the previous generation, and simply innovating for the sake of innovation. However, at this point, it’s not even innovating, but simply throwing garbage at the wall and seeing what sticks. If it didn’t work the first time, let’s try it a second time, and if that doesn’t work, then third time is the charm!
It’s nearly blasphemous to think that a company once heralded for being an inspiration to gamers everywhere has fallen to these depths! This is not to mention that unlike the Wii, which had a pretty low price tag, the Nintendo Switch comes riddled with hidden fees in the form of the controller charger, the extra controllers, no pack-in game, and even their horrible Nintendo Network for the first time in history is going to have costs! What is Nintendo thinking? Are they purposely trying to lose all consumer trust? Could it be that Nintendo forgot what happened to their former rivals at Sega and are now following suit? It’s understandable that Japan has always been cautiously traditional, but now is not the time for that type of thinking. Nintendo has to break out the big guns and do everything in its power to appease the fans.
Innovation for its own sake will only lead to Nintendo’s own downfall, but in this case, the innovating is a mixed bag. Nintendo hasn’t learned anything during the last 30 years and this is ultimately a destructive line of thinking. If they don’t change their ways soon then Nintendo will fall and nothing can be done about it!
P.S. For those who would like a relatively close math of the price of a Switch along optional equipment:
- Nintendo Switch: 300 USD
- Pro Controller: 70 USD
- Joy-Cons: 70 USD for both or 50 USD for a single sided (I’m guessing for replacements)
- Charging station for extra controller: 30 USD
- Nintendo Network fee: Unknown
Is all of this worth the price of admission to you? Personally, I’d rather buy a PC for this price.