The Switch has been out for just over a year now, and it still continues to sell amazingly well. It’s breaking records left and right, and its 1st party games are snagging awards, and it’s even getting a fair amount of 3rd party support, so why does it just feel so mediocre?
The Nintendo Switch has been available now for 13 months, and has captured the hearts of just about everyone. Shattering records left and right in the US, and in the world. It has already sold near 15 million units, and these numbers are from 2 months ago! And apparently, Nintendo intends to sell an additional 20 million this year! Games have flown off the shelves with the likes of Mario Odyssey selling at least 9 million, Zelda: Breath of the Wild selling close to 8 million, and so on with many of their exclusives 1st party titles. So… why does the system feel so mediocre?
Well, we told you about how we were worried about the system and a particularly troubling trend it was in some time back. And for 7 months, only one of those games has been confirmed to be getting a Switch release, Ark: Survival Evolved. Yes, there are plenty of other games getting Switch versions, such as Valkyria Chronicles 2, Dragon Quest XI, Wolfenstein, Banner Saga, Hello Neighbor, Pillars of Eternity II and so on. But there’s one thing in common with almost all of these games, they’re all undemanding games, with the exception of Wolfenstein II. Many are indies, or are games that could run on last generation hardware, which let’s face it, the Switch is, just in a portable format.
That’s the thing that makes it amazing though. Before buying the console I thought I’d almost never remove it from the dock, sticking solely to playing it at home. Which couldn’t be farther than the way it actually played out. I regularly bring my console with me to work, on short trips, to families houses etc. Usually just to play it, but sometimes to show it off. However, that portability with, albeit last generation quality graphics, is what makes it so awesome. I can bring the games I REALLY want to play with me wherever I go. I could be in the middle of a boss fight, pause it, and snag the console and play in the car while my wife drives. It’s that simple… but you know that if you’ve paid any attention to the system.
You can play indies, medium sized titles, or full fledged AAA titles worthy of all of your time. It doesn’t matter, there are no limits. It’s truly groundbreaking, and something I can see shaping, or at least having an impact on our industry in yet unforeseen ways. Think about it, everything in technology is not only getting smaller, but everything is moving toward portability. Just imagine if the next generation of PlayStation and Xbox systems go this route, it would certainly mix things up.
No one will ignore how popular the system is either, as we’ve seen with the system getting all sorts of support. It’s no WiiU that’s for sure.
The thing is, other than Mario Odyssey, the system hasn’t grabbed me in any meaningful way.
I picked up Zelda for my WiiU because I didn’t see the need to buy a new system for a marginal performance increase. And I had a hard time forcing myself through the game. I won’t defend my position on the title, but it’s not what everyone claims it is, but it IS a great foundation for future titles. One of our authors lays our thoughts out well enough here.
I have 4 games for the system, and I’ve completed only 1 of them, and it’s taking me a long time to force myself to finish the second. What’s more, the big games that people care about that just so happen to be getting a Switch tend to launch later. Just look at Wolfenstein II and Dragon Quest XI as perfect examples. This creates a problem for many people. Most don’t want to wait, and will pick the game up for a system they already own, and if they do wait to buy the Switch version, the other console versions are likely cheaper, creating another dilemma.
What’s more, the Switch version has always been lacking in comparison. Either worse performance, lesser quality visuals, less features (looking at Skyrim here), higher price, or requiring of additional parts to play. The combination of a Switch Tax, worse quality product (even if marginal), less game options, and required additional memory is reason to worry.
Why should I not only have to pay more, but buy a memory card just to play my games these days? You can’t tell me they couldn’t have put at LEAST 256gb of memory on the console when you can buy as much in a MicroSD card these days. The system may be “$300” to buy, but it has plenty of hidden costs to bring it right up there next to its more powerful brethren that offer more.
Not to mention there still isn’t a Web Browser, still no Netflix support, no achievement system, a terrible online voice chat interface, no proper streaming option, still no proper virtual console and so on. This system could be so much more, but its lack of capability is holding it back.
Does It Matter?
Here’s the thing though, not all of these points are objective, but that’s not the point. Many of them are, but as we see, that doesn’t seem to have much affect on how well the console is selling. Selling in numbers like it has in its first year, with plans to sell more its second year is just insane. The games are selling well too, which suggests a good attach rate (the rate at which games are selling in relation to how many console units have sold), and it continues to gain steam. Games are being announced frequently, even if many of the bigger games are still skipping the system, and the general consensus of the system is still extremely positive.
They’ve had several successful Nintendo Direct’s that have shown off several good games, or games to look forward to. The system has plenty of high profile games to look forward to as well, like Bayonetta 3, Pokemon, Super Smash Brothers and so on… but we’re still left with mostly ports until then. I want more reason to play the system now rather than getting second rate hand-me-downs to hold me over.
I guess it works for those who only have a Switch, or have a serious Nintendo Loyalty. But for those with multiple systems, we’re left looking for a reason to play it, and finding out that the other consoles are better unless you travel frequently and aren’t afforded the ability to sit in front of a TV for extended periods.
In the end, I don’ think it matters. The system has already carved out its nitche and will continue to sell regardless of its position. My only concern is it will begin to fizzle out as its left behind as games continue to push more advanced hardware and have no choice but to skip the Switch. What happens when the PS5 and Xbox… Next come out? Rumors are already swirling about the PS5, and when that releases the Switch may be stuck in the same place the WiiU was at launch.
The system continues to sell well, and it has plenty to look forward to, I just hope it remains that way in the long run.