NintenRant VI: The Nintendo Switch
THOUGHTS CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT REFLECT THOSE OF NINTENDO SCENE OR ITS OTHER WRITERS.
Okay, I’ve been storing vitriol on this issue for a while. But, every time I’ve reached a “right, that’s it!” moment and considered putting hand to keyboard about it, something has come about to dissipate my anger (hello, Fire Emblem Direct). However, the evidence that Nintendo are floundering with little-to-no idea what they are doing is now far too plentiful to ignore, so enter the sixth NintenRant.
Before we tackle what’s happened to it, however, let’s consider the beginning of the Switch rollercoaster; ‘that’ initial trailer. After months of speculation, leaked patents, and rumours, we were shown the Switch and what it could do. What we had at that moment was a carefully considered and, more importantly, fully realised concept. After the arguable disaster of the Wii U’s entire lifespan, Nintendo did what they very much needed to do, they nailed that initial trailer and it shows in the play count on it (over 26.5m views at time of writing). The video showed everything it needed to to herald the potential return of the Big N.
Then, the Direct happened. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Direct itself and was completely sold on the console immediately following the video. It was punchy, slick, and had an avalanche of great looking games (in my opinion). It was refreshing to see that the console had not changed since the reveal, further cementing my thoughts that it was already a real object. Even the bugbear that most had with the price of the console didn’t phase me as it only stood at roughly £30 higher than I expected.
It was after the Direct that the cracks started to appear in the veneer of Switch for me; beginning with 1-2-Switch. Let me be clear, releasing a glorified tech demo as a close to full price release is ludicrous, given the longevity of games from this kind of ilk and especially given its heavy multiplayer focus. Although it’s not the first time that Nintendo have attempted something like this (hello Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival), but it’s an odd decision to make with a new console that you want people to buy. Besides, it wasn’t ok for them to try that BS then, and it still isn’t now. Compare this strategy with that of Sony and the PS4, which came with Playroom (the glorified tech demo for the PlayStation Camera) as a free download, or even to Wii Sports for Nintendo Wii. These small titles existed to explain the technology to the consumer, giving bite-sized and intuitive introduction to the consoles or hardware in use. I honestly cannot see, at this point, how 1-2-Switch is any different from these examples.
If this was the extent of the strange pricing conventions with Switch, it could be forgiven, however it sadly is not. Owing to Nintendo’s continued insistence on leaving the EU region unchecked on pricing (see NintenRant V), almost all of the games in the Switch launch window suffers from some sort of mistake in this area. For a couple of examples, Bomberman R and Skyrim. Bomberman R doesn’t surprise me as much because Konami are involved, and they aren’t exactly known for making decisions that please the consumer base. However, charging full price for Skyrim, a game that is six years old, is utterly ridiculous. This wouldn’t be too much of an issue, if it wasn’t for the fact that Skyrim is available on five other platforms for a lower price than the Switch edition and I don’t think the advantage of playing it on the move is enough to warrant that charge. Finally, I’d like to quickly mention Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which is a bit of an insult. To charge roughly full price for exactly the same game that people had on Wii U when only subtle changes have happened is absurd. Fans will have previously paid for the game AND the DLC, so charging these same fans again for subtle changes and for the Battle Mode that should have been in the original game anyway is revealing once again that Nintendo are entirely out of touch with their fanbase (more on Mario Kart 8 later).
Furthermore, games are not the only item surrounding the Switch that have an odd pricing strategy. The individual JoyCon packs are priced at £70, not bad (I’ll grant) for essentially two controllers, but if you think of it as a single set (as you would need to play two player ARMS) it becomes roughly £20 more than its direct competitors. There’s a lot of tech in the individual JoyCons but Nintendo are almost definitely overselling that product in terms of price, which might be (again) owing to their lack of care about the European market. The flip side of this is that certain accessories, like the carry case for the Switch, is so reasonable in price it creates a large dissonance between individual pricing tags, which in turn creates an effect of confusion on the part of Nintendo. This lack of coherence in pricing displays an arguable lack of faith in the product, or worse, a lack of understanding of the product they’re trying to sell. This screams a repeat of the Wii U if this is the case, which should worry any Nintendo fan.
Next on my hit list is Nintendo’s proposed online “service”, thus placed in inverted commas owing to my complete lack of faith in it. They are now charging an online subscription for their online services. I understand this from the perspective that online services are costly to maintain, however, if Nintendo are aiming to enhance their online presence in the vein of Sony and Microsoft, they need to raise their game significantly. Their chosen “incentive” for subscribing is the hiring of virtual console games each month, not free purchase of, but hiring of. This, given the markets they are trying to compete with, is a total failure to match public expectations at least. It’s utterly despicable that Nintendo are still charging for the same ROMs that us fans have been paying for again and again with each console iteration. So, we can consider this “rental” BS, at most as a complete disregard for the fanbase of its past games. And no, the fact that they have now stated that purchases will be linked to your account, is not good enough as they will still likely charge us once again to download them.
Even the fact that the internet has discovered how much the online subscription will roughly cost does not diminish that this is will not be a good deal for the consumer unless the game library of the Switch is online enough. I think, in total, I only played 4 games online with my Wii U in its entire lifespan, which is appallingly low. If the Switch has a low amount of decent online titles, like its predecessor, whatever their online subscription costs will invariably be too much. Furthermore, abandoning Miiverse, the most Nintendo aspect of the Wii U/3DS era is a poor move if they are trying to still maintain their individuality and compete. If they, however, are casting aside their individuality to mix with the big boys, they are going about the online services (at the very least) in the worst possible way.
Now, I like Zelda as much as the next fan, but Nintendo (in my opinion) have managed to even mess with one of their biggest exports to the West. I am talking, of course, about THAT Season Pass. Nintendo have, to their credit, have generally been quite good for their handling of DLC since entering that particular arena. For instance, the massive amount of DLC for Splatoon that doubled the size of the game, at least (although we can’t forget that they released a poor excuse for a game initially anyway). Or, as a better example, the brilliant handling of the DLC for Mario Kart 8, which served to extend the (already solid) game by another 12 tracks and another game mode with the incentive of getting additional colours of Yoshi and Shy Guy if you bought both packs. I’ll put this as clear as I can – Zelda’s Season Pass is insulting to fans for three key reasons (there are obviously more, but we’ll focus on these):
1. Adding day one DLC to a game that has already been delayed “to allow time to complete it” is horrendous and makes their original claim a massive lie.
2. Locking Hard Mode behind a paywall, when that particular item has been available in Zelda games since their beginning is essentially defecating on their own franchise.
3. Incentivising buying the Season Pass solely with cosmetic, pointless BS (like a Nintendo Switch t-shirt for Link) is an utterly un-Nintendo move.
The whole Season Pass idea for Zelda just gives the impression that Nintendo are looking at what other companies are doing, which is a good thing, but are taking away the worst practices like an excited child and leaving behind the better practices to fester, practices which they themselves have done in the past. I would like to point out that this might be unnecessary skepticism, and that the Season Pass might not be as bad as it looks from this side of its release, however based on what we know at this moment it doesn’t look good. Basically, I was already wavering on giving Nintendo my money for Zelda, and just hearing the words ‘Season Pass’ (especially given my first point in this paragraph) is enough to plant it firmly as a no.
To sum up my thoughts on Switch, Nintendo (for me, personally) has managed to completely obliterate my excitement for their new console. I will pick one up eventually, yes, but the poor selection of games at launch, or even in the launch window, and the price points of everything when you add it together is just too damn extortionate. If you couple this with the overwhelming evidence of Nintendo’s blunders with certain business decisions (Season Passes, underwhelming online incentives), it just appears that Nintendo are taking the worst ideas of the gaming industry with Switch and using all of them. I don’t dislike Nintendo, in fact, I love them, but they are making it very hard to defend them with such poor decisions. Nintendo, you are not Sony or Microsoft and rather than pretending to be like them you should be trying to be different. After all, look at the Wii, that was a phenomenal success and was not like the others. To watch you writhe under the continual pressure of your own mistakes is deeply frustrating to a long time fan like myself. I want to believe that you are far better than this, but you keep making the same mistakes over and over again. I’m going to wait for Xenoblade 2 (which I sincerely hope hasn’t been totally screwed up like X was, or I might just retire from gaming).
So, dare I ask, what are your thoughts? Do you agree with me on the Switch and the way it has been handled, or do you think I’m a little too extreme in my views? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @reuthegamer.