Nintendo Announces New Console "Nintendo Switch"
At 10am EST on October 20th, Nintendo unveiled their newest console, previously known only as the "Nintendo NX." Through a three minute video made available on their website, viewers were shown a first glimpse of the home console/portable gaming system to be known as "Nintendo Switch."
Featuring a controller that can be altered easily, either plugged into the console's screen or a separate dock, the Switch already sets itself apart as the most adaptable gaming system to date. Players in the promotional vider were seen taking the system on plane rides, in the car, and syncing up with other systems for multiplayer gaming. One small addition worth noting is that the controllers can be used as separate halves, allowing for two player gaming on a single controller.
Perhaps the most notable departure from expectations however is that the Switch does not appear to have a touch screen, nor does is it advertised to work alongside Nintendo's portable console, the 3DS. While this may seem like a missed opportunity for Nintendo, it allows third party developers to more easily port titles to the console. This was a major issue that hampered the success of the Wii U, and a flaw Nintendo seems to have adjusted moving forward. Along with the announcement, Nintendo released a list of developers who are supporting the new system. Notable names on the list include Bethesda, ATLUS, and CAPCOM (especially following CAPCOM's poor promise fulfillment during the Gamecube era) as well as many indie developers.
The Nintendo Switch is scheduled to release in March of 2017.
Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch:
Nintendo took a bold step forward with the Wii in a move that paid off extraordinarily well for the company, and then proceeded to lose much of that momentum with the Wii U. The Wii U faltered by going out too far on a limb for developers and gamers, offering an experience that verged too closely to gimmick and strayed from the inclusive experience that made the Wii a hit. I believe that the Switch is speaking to what Nintendo sees as the future of gaming; one that blends the portable and home experience for a lifestyle increasingly on the move.
I see more people playing games in coffee shops or on the train. Homes increasingly do not even have televisions anymore, or at least they are not in the focal point of the house. The Switch may well be Nintendo taking the step away from the living room, which since the beginning of gaming has always been the center point of the industry. If this comes at the expense of the hardware and limits gamers for the sake of convenience the Switch may fall behind, but should Nintendo produce a high quality system the Switch may begin the gradual move off of the couch and into the public arena.
In this way, I see the Nintendo Switch as a calculated offensive move against Microsoft and Sony, whose primary focus remains on console gaming. Reviewers and "hardcore gamers" may not be willing to sacrifice performance for flexibility, but what about the casual gamer? Their input has already shaped Nintendo's success over the past ten years, and on top of that may be enough to push Nintendo into new grounds. After all, two of Nintendo's best selling properties in the 2000's were Brain Age and Nintendogs, two titles which may arguably not be called games at all. But with the Switch's new format and flexibility Sony and Microsoft may miss a market that Nintendo can offer a more finely honed gaming experience.