The Nintendo Switch is a Good Sign Nintendo Needs to Stop Innovating
The Nintendo Switch is arguably the best device Nintendo has ever made. Now it's time to build on it rather than creating a new console design.
Nintendo has had a long history of charting its own way when navigating the gaming ecosystem. The company has always kept its fans on their toes and is always trying to innovate rather than following the latest trend and going the mainstream route. Now, thanks to the colossal success of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has a very important choice to make. Should the company follow its model and continue to create new devices that might test your preconceptions of what a gaming console is, or should it build on what it already has? I think it is an easy choice.
The Switch is a runaway success for Nintendo. there’s no denying that. As of this writing, Nintendo is reporting that there have been almost 70 million units sold worldwide in just under 4 years. The unit continues to be the best-selling console month after month even though the PS5 and Xbox Series X | S released in November 2020.
In fairness, Sony and Xbox have had some trouble getting enough units of their next-generation consoles out in the wild due to COVID-19. However, everyone seems to want to get their grubby little hands on a Switch. I’ve seen people I never would have thought wanting to pick up a Nintendo console, even seeing grandparents pick them up for themselves. If Jesus was to come back, he would probably fall from the heavens while tending to his Island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
But, wait. This all sounds familiar. Doesn’t it? Didn’t Nintendo have a console a little over ten years ago that caused quite a commotion? That’s right, we’ve seen this pandemonium during the company’s Wii era. I remember news channels talking about nobody being able to find a Wii for the holidays because the console was such a hot commodity. Nobody had seen a console before that was so creative and innovative with its motion controls while bringing the family together in the living room as well. Everyone’s grandma wanted to get in on the Wii bowling action.
Well, those families were brought together with family-focused games such as Wii Sports and maybe some Mario Kart. Then more games started to utilize the motion controls, but eventually, the idea of using them for most games started to fade. While the console still had a great attachment rate for software, the fad of using motion controls slowly died out towards the end of its life.
People had had their fun with the console that was innovative in some ways yet lacking in most others, and if a game were to release for all consoles, most would pick it up for another platform where possible. There is a reason that most games do not predominantly use motion controls anymore, and if the demand was still there in such mass quantities then we would still be using Wii remotes.
There were a couple of instances where a game performed better on the Wii though. Plenty of people preferred the Wii port of Resident Evil 4, and the Pikmin re-releases had a much smoother feeling to gameplay and were easier to control on the Wii compared to the GameCube versions. However, for the most part, many people were beginning to abandon ship.
This is where the Nintendo Switch differs immensely. From what I have seen, interest in the Switch has only increased since its inception in 2017. Rather than the mysterious wonder of the Wii and everyone needing it at launch, the Switch took a bit of warming up. Though the switching from handheld mode to docked mode was easily graspable for many consumers and interest grew fast.
This was not only because the fundamental feature of the console was so intriguing, but because people wanted to play games on it. The Nintendo Switch has grown to become the go-to device for indie titles for me, many of my colleagues, and many other people out there.
With this success, Nintendo, I believe, has found its magnum opus. While I adore when the company decides to get real weird with its new devices, I can’t imagine anything getting better than what we have right here. The Switch can do it all if you want it to; It has a touch screen, detachable controllers that can be used for motion controls, it can be carried around portably, and more. It is as if Nintendo has shoved in every single past console they have worked on into this gaming-focused tablet.
I don’t think that it’s a radical statement to say that Nintendo should stop trying to come up with new designs for its consoles at this point. People have shown their desire to play games on this current device and this has carried over to the company’s rumored Pro version. The number of “Switch Pro” videos you can find on YouTube with obviously photoshopped devices is laughable, but a good indication of how many gamers love this device and want more.
The phrase “I will wait for it to come to the Switch” has been uttered so many times it makes my head spin. Even one of the hottest games of 2020, both literally and figuratively, Hades had released on the Epic Games Store over two years ago, but now it has suddenly gained monumental attraction due to it becoming available on the Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is now closing in on almost 30 million copies sold, and even Wii U ports have dominated the sales charts for the console.
Another obvious reason for the success of the Switch is the merging of both handheld and home console developers. Nintendo doesn’t have to worry about splitting up its development staff because they’re focusing on one device rather than two. That means more games can be released at a much faster pace.
With that said, there is an argument against building on the Switch platform. While it wasn’t as straightforward as being named the “Wii 2”, the Wii U technically built upon the success of the Wii. Everyone knows exactly how well that went for Nintendo. However, the big difference between the two is what I stated earlier. People had already begun to abandon the Wii. Mainstream gamers saw how the Xbox 360 and the PS3 were miles ahead of the Wii in terms of raw horsepower, and so the last few years for the Wii were pretty barren.
Even if Nintendo decided to name the Wii U the “Wii 2” it probably wouldn’t have gained much traction because the excitement over the console itself was pretty much dead. The Fisher-Price style gamepad didn’t help much either.
To top that off, the announcement of the Wii U is one of, if not the worst console announcement of all time. Firstly, the name Wii U was so trivial that most people didn’t understand what the heck it meant. Was it a new console? An add on for the Wii? The announcement didn’t help distinguish between the two because the device could use all of your old Wii remotes as well. It was such a terrible name that Nintendo had to make a commercial explaining the difference between both consoles. Unfortunately, it looks like the video has now been taken down, but you probably get the point.
As much as Nintendo loves to try and innovate, this is just not the time. If we go back to all the releases Nintendo has had through the years and count all of the different playstyles and gimmicks Nintendo has come up with, it always falls back to the same form factor: A screen and a controller with buttons, no motion controls — I will allow gyro — and no touch screen centric games. Hell, even the 3D effect on the 3DS was left behind when they announced the 2DS. The gimmick was in the title of the device!
Nintendo has successfully capitalized on success in the past. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was the successor to the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Game Boy Advance was a simple name that defined exactly what the system was: a more advanced Gameboy. The 3DS was a DS with a circle pad that supported 3D visuals. Both of these handhelds were marketed in a way that was easy to grasp for mainstream consumers, unlike the Wii U. However, Nintendo has never dived right in with the numbered sequel label in terms of video game consoles.
Sony has routinely seen success by capitalizing on the popularity of its devices. The PS1, PS2, PS3, and PS4 all have sold an astronomical amount of units. The PS5 looks to be heading in that direction as well. When games were flat out inferior on the PS3 due to a weird architecture that made developing for the console more difficult, it still eventually outperformed the Xbox 360.
I have to believe it was partially because of the name. People knew what they were going to get when they purchased a PlayStation. Nintendo should take some notes from Sony and slap a big ole fat “2” on the Switch’s successor.
As such, I would like to see a successor to the Nintendo Switch. I think many people out there would like that as well. I also think that calling it the “Nintendo Switch 2” would be the smartest move for the company. I know that brainstorming new console names is probably a very fun process for the company. I mean, it has to be. The term Switch is so perfect that the one who came up with it must have had a smile on their face when they thought of it.
I hope the wave of new blood in the company can help navigate the tricky waters of where to steer the company next. I have to be honest, other than some licensing issues I do not agree with, Nintendo has really hit the nail on the head the last 3 years or so in terms of business decisions. And that is pretty scary. Normally, at least the Nintendo I know makes a massive decision that leaves its fans scratching their heads. It has been a while since that has happened now.
The Nintendo Switch just brought in the second most amount of money within a year for the company. The only year to trump that was during the peak of the Wii craze in 2008. Gamers love this device and there is no sign of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, the popularity of the device just continues to grow month after month.
And I have to believe there would be nothing but decline if Nintendo decided to take its next console in a whole new direction. So, please Nintendo, Just give us more Switch and slap a big “2” on a more powerful console. It has worked so well for Sony PlayStation and I am sure it would work for a new Switch.