Nintendo Switch shows they still don't get mobile gaming
We all love Nintendo. The franchises they've built are ingrained in many of our childhoods, and they've continued to capture the imagination with new takes on old favorites. Just when we think they're starting to wise up to the direction of gaming by announcing their first title for any phone, they go and make a new console centered entirely around the mobile lifestyle and miss the conceptual mark completely. Take a gander at the launch video to get an idea of what's up.
Let's break down some of the major selling points Nintendo is pushing in this video.
The Switch plays games locally, but there have been many solutions for getting "real" games onto portable screens for awhile. How many people do you see out in the wild using currently-available remote play systems? Systems for playing big-boy games while out in the field have been around for years. The current generation of consoles have those features built in. Even outside of being officially sheltered, services like the now-defunct OnLive service have attempted to let you play your favorite games anywhere. Others, like the NVIDIA Shield, do so more successfully, but still for an incredibly niche audience. (Incidentally, the Nintendo Switch is using an NVIDIA mobile chip (opens in new tab).) If you want to dig really far back, there's stuff like the Sega Nomad trying this same shtick, only relying on physical, local storage.
Selling portable play for AAA games, either through cloud gaming or streaming from your own machine or storing it locally on the device itself, has been around for awhile, and it's been an uphill battle. After years of trying, who still thinks there's a significant audience itching for a platform with that lifestyle baked into the physical design? Who seriously expects Nintendo to sell enough of Switch systems that my buddy will have a mount set up in his car to further facilitate this kind of play?
When was the last time you saw a dude prop up an iPad on a plane and bust out a Bluetooth controller to play something on it? I'm not saying it's never, I'm saying it's a very, very small number of people. Part of that is because packing a spare controller is a hassle. Oh, but wait! The Nintendo Switch builds those right in! Holy hell, it's going to be easy to lose those controllers. Are they going to give us lanyards that nobody ever uses, like the Wii? Impact condoms too, for when we inevitably drop them?
The clicky securing mechanism on the Switch for those remotes is charming and all, but how many dismount cycles can you use with them until that spring wears out? Those controllers are microscopic. How can Nintendo expect people to use the halves as individual controllers comfortably? Am I going to have to buy another controller accessory to make this a viable comfortable experience?
Head-to-head local multiplayer
Does Nintendo really think you're going to have a friend that also buys a Switch to enable that multi-console mode? What are the odds they're carrying around a Switch at the same time you so happen to have yours, and you both have time after your basketball game to play a few rounds? Barring a game by pure happy coincidence, there's the physical overhead of arranging a time and place to haul your Nintendo Switch to your friend's place so you can play together. Is that going to introduce so much more happiness than just playing together online?
Do you really think you'll bump into cute rando gamers at the airport thanks to the Nintendo Switch? What parties are you going to where it's socially acceptable to cram your face into a tablet the whole time, nevermind trying to convince a gaggle of people to come watch? Is Zelda so enthralling that you can't put it down for a second to make sure your dog isn't running off into the sunset while on a walk?
Super Smash Brothers and Mario speedrunning are the only hardcore Nintendo footholds that come to mind (correct me if I'm wrong). Does anyone really believe Splatoon can become an eSport that can fill a stadium? Do pro eSports teams that demand that much attention really need an all-in-one gaming system more portable than a gaming laptop? Will environments with presumably strict, competitive regulations actually let players bring their own hardware? I admit, I don't follow eSports that much, but if there's some problem in that scene that the Nintendo Switch fixes, I'm all ears.
Taking a quick look at the comments on Reddit, the big things people sound super pumped about are the game titles, and presuming they're going to be exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. Those games are going to be the only things selling this gimmicky, awkward mess. I think the core of the problem is how Nintendo is conceptualizing playing games on the go. It isn't a social thing that I go to roof parties and bust out, or chat up ladies with, or play after a real basketball game.
It's something I do for 5-10 minutes at a cycle while on the bus, waiting in line, or otherwise have a small gap of time where I have a nominal amount of attention to spare. iPhone wins in this context because the overhead is low. People already have one in their pocket, it's portable, the games are cheap, and often aren't very demanding. The Nintendo Switch will lose here because the overhead is high. It's a big piece of hardware, with multiple moving parts, running expensive, AAA games that require a lot of attention.
Does Nintendo really think I'm going to enjoy the full splendor of remastered Skyrim on a 7-8-inch tablet? Do they think I'm going to have a good time with that experience punctured by getting in and out of an Uber, going through airport security, boarding the plane, getting the in-flight meal, etc. etc.? Hell no, I sit in one spot with a big screen and play Skyrim when I know I'm not going to be interrupted every five minutes. Console games aren't designed to be played on the go, and you can't change that just by dragging and dropping them into a mobile context.
We've seen accessory manufacturers try to empower iPad and iPhone with console-class capabilities, and surely Apple TV plays a significant role in bringing those experiences to the big screen. At this point, it's difficult to see what real benefit the Nintendo Switch will offer that this existing combination of products hasn't. Nintendo gets points for trying something new, and for a lot of Wii U diehards, the Nintendo Switch is seen as what the last console should have been: an elegant marriage of mobile and console gaming.
There's still a lot left to be seen about how this imagining pans out. For example, we still don't know things like cost and battery life, which may very easily weigh down prospects for the Switch further, but in my opinion, it's going to be a bumpy March 2017 launch.
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Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.
As a "real" gamer who has been with Nintendo since the original gameboy/NES, this has very little to offer me that I can't get elsewhere.
I want a handheld, not a mobile console, and this will not fill the void once the 3DS actually dies. It's my greatest hope that we get an actual handheld down the line, because I travel long distances and this is more a social block party/campus kind of "mobile" rather than carry with you.
- remote play is not good and not an answer to play AAA games portable. I never liked it. it's just a little substitute to temporarily satisfy people that needs portable good games. So, nope, remote play is far lower than to be able to play your games on switch portable.
- about the plane, I just afraid the crew would be angry if we play with our device, as they couldnt know if the wireless is on or not that can disturb the plane system. so lets skip this
- head to head local multiplayer can be done and often done on my neighborhood, as we have a gaming community here that meets from time to time to play together. so no, it's not useless. but playing online would be more helpful (and I think switch would support it too)
- as on the bus, what u said is that u like to play casual games that only takes a few mins to play and satisfy enough for casual gamer. ipad and android did that very well, but I'm sure switch may have some casual games to be played 5-10 mins on a go. there always some games like that.
for example, I used to like to play punch out (as virtual games on my 3ds), 1-2 rounds on a go. it doesnt need much time. and I would defend punch out as AAA games or at least A games as itself
so, it's just a matter to find games that suited. Now, I'm not nintendo fans, though I own and like nintendo handheld and consoles and games.
and I'm not trying to defend it, but I think all ur point on article is just not really right. I think switch is not revolutional, not a new concept like what being advertized.
Tablet has been able to do that for a long time, to be played anywhere, can broadcast/connect to tv, and can use bluetooth controller (if u want to buy more).
though detachable controller maybe not, but it's still not any new concept or revolutioner (far from when wii out with it's wiimote for motion gaming) I view switch as a new handheld device from nintendo, the successor of 3ds, which unfortunately, lost its dual screen (the trademark of nintendo since nds, 3ds, and wii u), so it's like vita (with maybe bigger screen), and a detachable controller, and a dock to connect to tv.
what's new ? sure, hd display (well nintendo's competitor has it a long time ago, and this is the new handheld, so it's no brainer).
sure, faster processor, etc (with the same reason) so, dont get me wrong, switch is a good new handheld to make sure nintendo not behind its competitor (on spec), but it's just not revolutioner/new/amazing concept. and nope, unlike what ur article said, I believe nintendo will make decent profit with this, like when they make decent profit with 3ds. because like it or not, nintendo 1st party games have diehard fans all over the world (though not me), and nintendo 3rd party games, for some unknown reason (at least to me), always feel so much better than its competitor.
so, of course if nintendo release some good 1st party games, and have 3rd party release some good games on switch, of course everybody would buy it. But again, it's because the games are great, not because the handheld is that much greater than the competitor (and yeah, I refused to call it a console. To call it a console is a degradation. Even wii is better with its wiimote, while switch back to just standard classic controller again)
I kind of got away from gaming when I had a kid, and for years started favoring tablet and phone games out of convenience and time management.
But tablet/phone games have devolved to money-ware crap or "yet another puzzle game" or candy-crush like copy. I've nearly given up on phone/tablet gaming.
My kid is a little older now and starting to get into games. I also have a bit more time and I've been picking up a few AAA games and spending more time on the console.
So more kid-friendly games have entered my sphere these days. But I also want to not be tethered to the TV all of the time. I'd love to take a console in the car for my kid to play, or me to play in different places.
It's as if Nintendo figured out all of these variables and aimed for this unversed market. Sure NVidia Shield has been there, but not quite in the same way.
I'm hopeful that this will be mostly what I want. I won't be giving up my XBone and PS4, but I might invest a little more into this (instead of phone/tablet games.)
"Everyone" owns a smart phone. If Nintendo made a smart phone controller-case and/or Bluetooth controller, and sold their FULL-SIZED games in the mobile App Store of your choice, then required their Nintendo controllers to play, they would crush it.
People just don't see the value in mobile gaming appliances anymore. ESPECIALLY the expensive ones like the Vita. 3DS did well bc it was for kids without phones, and it was cheap enough for a xmas gift, and cheap enough to justify if you are of age to own a smart phone.
I do like that the tablet IS the console. Vs the Vita, which claimed "Remote Play" with the PS3, but supported literally ZERO games (I never bought a PS4, with which this is better supported) but you had to have a network connection good enough to stream the game; rather than having the full game locally on your portable. Sent from the iMore App
Gameboy and DS have been very successful and I see this as the next evolution of the DS, really. These kids will get them for Christmas (if they're actually cool) and the kids that don't will want to get them to join their friends. Eventually you have that ecosystem. It really depends on how much this dang thing cost. If it's pretty expensive, then forget it. If it's reasonable, then maybe it'll work. It sure as heck appeals to me. I'll get it for my kid (and me) to use. Many valid points made in this article. However my first impression is that Nintendo really thought this through and executed on that vision of flexible semi-portable gameplay and we'll see if it sticks.
I've shifted back to console and PC gaming. I've resisted any other portable game device because none of them really have much I want to play.
But this seems like a worthy shot at REAL one-time paid games (not just something designed to get in-app purchases) that can be enjoyed on the road or on the TV. The multiplayer support is always welcome.
Well this could fall flat and flop, or it could become a trend. We'll see. I'm really happy that Nintendo tried this bold move, though.