Does the Switch's Launch Line-up Really Suck?
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Now that folks have said their two cents about the Nintendo Switch’s launch lineup, including myself, Nintendo has finally responded. Not to fans, not to the press, but in an earnings call aimed entirely at investors. Which is, if you aren't aware, a kind of public financial assurance for investors in the form of an actual call, presentation, or document. No one ever said Nintendo listened to its fans!

In the earnings call, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima stated that, though some people have said that it is weak, the launch lineup is for the better in the long run. The idea being that Nintendo will be able to provide “new titles regularly without long gaps” for 2017. As such, get people to continue playing on the console, “maintain buzz”, and “spur” sales for it.

This is similar to what the former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said about the Wii U. His point was that “too many titles at the launch” can cause “a drop in new games” in the following year or so, and they wanted to avoid that for the Wii U. But, that didn’t really end up working out when a lot of these major titles ended up significantly delayed. Hopefully, the same fate will not befall the Switch lineup too, but that doesn't mean this isn't marketing disaster.

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Sure, spacing out game launches is a great idea, and I do find the little batch of indie games quite interesting. The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth, for example, is perpetually popular. Both Little Inferno and Human Resource Machine are puzzle games with wonderfully dark themes. However, all of these are originally ports of PC games which eventually went mobile. Though quite well suited to the Switch as a result, I hate to point out the obvious. Most everyone Nintendo is trying to sell the system to has a smartphone. Why select titles that do not make the platform at least feel unique? Heck, even The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim at launch would have managed to achieve the latter, because you've never been able to take that huge game on the go before. But these? These are an extremely lazy choice. Not the best marketing decision, to put it lightly.

If that isn't enough, I don't see the 1-2 Switch as anything more than a joke that will be funny for about an hour, tops. The other major titles, besides The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, are just so average. They aren't exciting, because we've seen them elsewhere for awhile now. Once again, they don't bring anything unique to the Switch. More than the mobile ports, that's true, but I think they suffer from the “family friendly” blight that has defined so much of Nintendo for years. Why can't the dark themes of the mobile games extend to these console based ones?

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The most I can say for these other titles is that I am Setsuna, an RPG that looks like an okay Final Fantasy-inspired game, could have potential. Again, all of these games are far too average and unexciting. They don't make the Switch feel unique or feel like there's any "buzz" surrounding them. 

Needless to say, the Switch lineup isn't just weak, it sucks. Justifying it by saying that this way it's easier to disperse games throughout the console's lifetime is just another way to cover up poor planning and organization. Nintendo is either launching of the console too early or still hasn't learned from what happened with the Wii U. Either way, the “weak” launch lineup for the Switch is not the best marketing decision.

Christine Pugatschew
Christine Pugatschew

Contributing Writer
Date: 02/03/2017

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