Check out the podcast Chris Gravelle and I did on Labo above!
In a world filled with iterative console cycles, pushes towards the most powerful consoles ever built, 4K resolution graphics and VR, Nintendo is just being Nintendo as usual, having us play with cardboard. And I couldn’t be happier. On January 17th, Nintendo announced their new Labo project. Labo is essentially software for the Switch that interacts with real-life cardboard DIY projects you build. The software goes through how to build the projects step-by-step, similar to LEGO, and then allows you to use what you built in different minigames. Once again, Microsoft has the most powerful console ever released, Sony has VR support for the PS4. Nintendo has cardboard.
The potential for Labo in the future is amazing. Currently, there are currently two sets announced featuring both the software and cardboard (dubbed Toy-Cons) going for $69.99 and $79.99 each. While I imagine DLC and new Toy-Cons for the Labo game itself are planned if the reception is positive, Labo’s future could possibly extend far beyond its own game if done right. Just think of the possibilities to integrate the Toy-Cons into pre-existing Nintendo games. Make a Master Sword for Zelda. A kart or steering wheel for Mario Kart. Some big ‘ol gauntlets for ARMS! Truly, with the DIY nature of the Toy-Cons, the chance for integration is limitless, and that’s what makes me so excited about Labo. While the minigame collection and projects currently announced seem fun and novel enough, it’s the future of Labo that is truly exciting. Besides integration into current Nintendo games, who knows what else they’ll do with Labo? I mean, only Nintendo could think of an idea as original and different as this. What they do with it in the future, nobody could predict. Edutainment is another big market that’s possible for Labo to influence. The possibility to open the world of engineering and similar career paths through Labo is something very possible. Using Labo in conjunction with current games, new software specifically use for Labo, amiibo (or cereal box) functionality, education, Labo has so many markets it can be used in, and I imagine over the years, as they did with amiibo, Nintendo will figure out when and where the best uses for Labo are in a variety of different ways.
I’d like to jump back a bit and talk about the pricing structure of Labo, however. The variety Toy-Con set is currently priced at $69.99, with the robot set being $79.99, and inherently, these prices aren’t bad, as you are paying for an entirely new Switch game with the sets. However, there are some possibilities of how Labo releases could be structured that worries me. My hope is that with each Toy-Con set that comes out, the software itself is the same base game as all the others, and you could buy the Toy-Cons with or without the base game. From there, if you already have the game, you can get the corresponding software as DLC for the base game. My worry is that Nintendo will make each Toy-Con set have a different base game that you have to buy separately. While this does seem overall unlikely, the pricing structure going forward could go many ways, and I’m hoping Nintendo doesn’t get all EAish with how they decide to price Labo.
Overall, I love Labo. It is absolutely so Nintendo in every way possible, and only they could think of an idea as smart as Labo, that has the potential to reach so many different types of audiences. The Switch’s second year is crucial to showing that they’re dedicated to this system and that content will be consistently released such as year one. And Labo is only going to continue to prove that Nintendo is back, and will continue to stay one of the most innovative forces in the industry.