When many gamers hear ‘Console Wars,’ they normally think of the everlasting battle between Sony and Microsoft, with the pair constantly releasing better and better versions of the PlayStation and Xbox respectively. That’s not even including those who label themselves as part of the ‘PC Master Race.’ However, with the release of the Switch, Nintendo is hoping to change that.
The company has long tried to become a major contender in the console wars, with the Wii and Wii U being some of Nintendo’s biggest attempts to take on Sony and Microsoft. At the time, though, nothing really came of it, other than disappointed fans and money spent on what was essentially a flop. With the Switch, it looks like the company is looking to enter into another crusade against the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but things still aren’t looking too good for the portable console, even this far after release.
However, signs point to a launch that may be similar to that of the Wii and Wii U; essentially, Nintendo were fairly cagey about almost everything related to The Switch leading up to its launch. This was in the same vein that they were when it came to the Wii U’s launch. However, one of the very few things that they were open about – at least, when it what first announced as the NX – was the fact that it was built with online functionality in mind. With what gamers are used to at this point, this seemed like it was a necessity rather than a unique selling point. The last few editions of the Xbox and PlayStation have had amazing online functionality. Nintendo even tried to integrate it into the Wii U to no avail.
At the time of the consoles announcement, the company said that they would be working with Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA in order to create the online functionality, which many fans were delighted with. At the time, it would be the first time that Nintendo developed a console with it specifically in mind. With DeNA on-board, it looked like nothing could go wrong.
Announcing the online functionality, Nintendo said:
“Nintendo, together with DeNA, will jointly develop a new membership service which encompasses the existing Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems, the new hardware system with a brand-new concept, NX, and smart devices and PCs, and Nintendo will be the primary party to operate this new membership service.”
That seemed like it’d be a boon for the Switch, so if Nintendo manage to pull it off, it could do nothing but reap the rewards. However, the company has fallen back into its old routines. Aside from mentioning it during the official announcement, the company hasn’t said much else about online functionality. Again, something which bears a remarkable resemblance to just prior to the launch of the Wii U. So far, very little seems to have come from this.
As noted by several other publications in the months before its release, this is almost exactly what happened in the lead up to the Wii U’s launch. This was pretty much down to the fact that the Wii U’s online functionality wasn’t exactly done. Sure, they managed to get a decent version of it released with a Day One patch, but that was half baked at first. The patch took hours to install. To top it off, there were very few features to help it stand out from other consoles’ online counterparts.
To date, it seems that The Switch’s online capabilities many not be as great as speculators may have thought. With that said, online functionality isn’t the be all and end all of what consoles can bring to the table. After all, many gamers flock to consoles based on what games are set to release for it. The Xbox One has the Gears of War and Halo franchises, with PlayStation having similarly well-developed franchises. If Nintendo could nab some exclusives, then it’s something that’ll only work in the Switch’s favor.
However, there aren’t many that stick of out the flock. At least, not enough for gamers to consider buying the console just for the two or three games. It’d be ridiculous for Nintendo to think that players would fork over that kind of money for an exclusive Mario or Splatoon 2. Both of which seem the be both the most exciting and most un-original of the bunch. All of the other games which may attract gamers seem to be already out on other consoles. Or are soon to be released for them; players don’t need to fork over hundreds for a new console in order to play them.
Maybe free games may be a boon for the Switch? Xbox has its Games with Gold and PlayStation has something similar. Some games are released for a short period for free, and after that pay full price. It’s something that players are getting accustomed to, and something that they like. With the Switch, though, Nintendo had decided to go a different route and put profit ahead of players. As Nintendo put it:
“Subscribers will get to download and play a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES) game (with newly-added online play) for free for a month.”
Yeah, for a month. Players essentially get to rent a game for free for a month. That may be pretty generous by any other industry’s standards, but when it comes to gaming, it definitely doesn’t compare to competitors. Sure, it might sound childish to complain about not getting things for free. But when it’s starting to become a bit of a standard, you can see where fans are coming from.
In the years before the Switch, Nintendo had plenty of time to sit back and watch. They had time to see what worked and what didn’t for the Xbox and PlayStation. They could then improve on it and give it their own twist. However, in those years, it seems that the company didn’t even pay attention.
At the moment, though, it seems that many fans are going to stick to the consoles that they know best. It seems Nintendo should just stick to creating games.