The newest member of the Nintendo family, the Nintendo Switch, was fully revealed early in the morning to a resounding rise and fall in hype. Hype doesn’t make a game or a console good, but it certainly drives sales. The rise came from fantastic games being showcased like Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey, both of which look to innovate their series in new and great ways. The dramatic fall then came from the fact that neither of these games, nor any of the particularly interesting announced games, will actually be available at launch. Besides Breath of the Wild, the Switch will seemingly launch with barely any titles to its name. Not to mention that Breath of the Wild is also available on the Wii U. This, combined with the fact that stocks look alarmingly low judging by how many retailers are giving pre-order notifications, could spell doom for anyone wanting to pick up a Switch anytime this year.
The main problem with the Nintendo Switch after the presentation is the lack of launch titles. Whilst launch titles for consoles are never usually the cream of the crop, they tend to include at least one big seller and a couple of smaller games. Whilst the Switch does have its big seller in the way of the newest Zelda, many consider this to fall on deaf ears as it will also be available on the Wii U, with no discernable difference between the two versions. There’s no need for consumers to pick up the Switch directly for Breath of the Wild when it’s likely that that game’s biggest fans will likely already have another system that can play it. The rest of the launch lineup is also looking slim, with several ports of games like Rayman Legends and Steep, neither of which are exactly system sellers (although Legends was almost a Wii U system seller before going multiplatform) and only serve to offer more games on day one. This problem isn’t exactly a surprise considering how most launch days go, but it’s disappointing nonetheless.
The lack of launch titles is made somewhat worse by the showing of several fantastic looking games, some of which would be worth picking up a system day one for. The newest Super Mario, set in a new set of vast hub worlds and levels and bringing back some of the features present in Super Mario 64, looks absolutely fantastic and instantly made me consider waiting up for the pre-orders to go live. Another great surprise came in the form of Splatoon 2, with many people assuming that the Switch Splatoon title would just be an enhanced port. New squid looks, new weapons and new maneuvers in combat make this title look especially fresh. Even one of the weirder titles shown, Arms, looks interesting enough to consider buying the Switch for, featuring stylistic characters throwing down with what look like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot arms. Despite some great looking games coming up in the next year, unfortunately all of them won’t be available till after the console launches. This makes for a disappointing wait on any hardware actually worth upgrading to the Switch for, unless the newest minigame collection is your bag. This problem is only compounded by Nintendo’s problem with supplying popular product, meaning that if you want a Switch later in the year, you might not get the chance.
Nintendo have a notorious problem with being able to keep up with stock and demand for some of their biggest products, like the NES Mini and several exclusive amiibo. Whether or not this is a purposeful business practise to drive up sales and increase demand, if the Switch has a chance of being a successful console Nintendo need to match their fans and make sure anyone can get a copy. This already looks a bit sketchy considering how difficult it appears to be to get a pre-order of the system in, and could seriously impact how the console sells over the year. If you’re like me and you’re now considering picking up the Switch at a later time due to the lacklustre launch lineup, you probably don’t want to take the risk of missing out on the Switch altogether. This prospect isn’t too far-fetched considering how difficult it still is to buy an NES Mini and this could prove to be one of the things that spells trouble for the Switch. Nintendo need to make sure that they have enough stock to meet the increase in demand when bigger titles like Odyssey and Splatoon 2 come out later in the year.
Despite these problems with the Switch, most other details about it seem captivating. The console itself looks sleek, the games look great, the price isn’t too unreasonable (although more than rumours were suggesting) and Nintendo seem to be listening to the fans more than before, so a new Metroid probably isn’t too far off this time. The lack of details for some aspects like the online service that will eventually cost money and the aforementioned problems in stock and launch titles do mar the system somewhat and hint at a troubling first year for the system, although I would be very happy to be proven wrong. In my opinion, the launch titles are a problem that can’t really be fixed, so here’s hoping that Nintendo keep up with the demand.