Last week, it was reported the Nintendo Switch won’t have streaming apps on its console; however, the company is considering adding them post-launch. Although I like the idea of Nintendo focusing primarily on games and I find the Switch promising, I also can’t help but wonder the importance of not having video streaming apps immediately out of launch or even post-launch.
In 2015, Business Insider published an infographic of the most popular streaming devices in the US. Microsoft Xbox came in first place at 14.3 percent, Sony PlayStation at 13.8, and the Nintendo Wii finished behind Roku and Samsung devices at 7.8. (Note: the infographic lists the brands rather than the specific consoles). Clearly, Nintendo was not the company of choice for Netflix and chilling in 2015. Nevertheless, the most popular streaming devices in 2015 were game consoles.
As someone generally part of the 25-34 demographic, the PS4 has become my console of choice, but not because of gaming (if I owned an Xbox One, the most popular streaming device, then I’m sure the result would be the same). When I’m feeling too drained from work to play a game, which is more often than not, I watch a stand-up comedy special on Netflix. The next question I have, then, is how many gamers feel the same?
According to Nielsen, gaming is still the most popular activity on consoles, but video streaming services take up a significant portion of a gamer’s spare time. The most popular console for streaming video is the Xbox One at 51 percent followed by PlayStation 4 at 41 percent. The Wii U came in last place at 25 percent. Nielsen reports that “gaming accounts for only half of the time [consumers] spend on their consoles;” however, they noted that “the Nielsen 360° Gaming Report found that more than 80% of eighth gen users play games on their systems.”
Now, do I think that the Nintendo Switch is making a big mistake by not having streaming services available on launch? Yes and no. In 2011, the Wii was the most popular console for streaming Netflix, but the same cannot be said for the Wii U today. Also worth noting is that the Wii came in second to streaming directly from a computer, so gaming consoles weren’t the most popular choice in 2011. Maybe the Wii was so popular with Netflix because it outsold the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which can’t be said for the the Wii U. In any case, the Switch has considerable catching up to do if it wants to usurp the Xbox One as the most popular streaming device.
I don’t think the Nintendo Switch needs these streaming services to become successful, although I cannot say if the console will outsell the PS4 or Xbox One. However, I think the lack of streaming services reinforces Nintendo’s reputation for producing complementary consoles - in the sense that gamers who can afford the Switch will buy it in addition to the PS4 or Xbox One. For these gamers, the solution to watching movies on either console could be potentially as easy as clicking source a few times on the remote control. I think it will take more than Netflix for the Switch to become the primary console of choice for consumers, but I hope they add these services post-launch.