The Nintendo Switch is selling incredibly well. If the red hot console could keep the supply up with the demand, those sales figures would skyrocket. People are enthusiastically adopting its hybrid functionality, and the ease of taking it wherever you want, then snapping it into the dock for instantaneous conversion to a big screen has everyone applauding. Nintendo hit the nail on the head and targeted the right audience for this generation. It’s not like the Wii, where they saw an untapped market of casual gamers and pounced on them like wolves. This time, they paid attention to the evolving world and listened to what gamers were yearning for.
They probably took notes from the wails against the Wii U. Nintendo’s initial intent was to promote the use of a tablet as a controller, incorporating touch screen and highlighting asymmetrical gameplay with a fifth person at the helm of the tablet. However, one of the biggest caveats of complaints came from the fact that the GamePad was “chained” to the console, only able to move about twenty feet away before losing the signal. Also, the name was terrible, and endlessly mocked. It was embarrassing telling people I was going home to play with my Wii.
The Switch label, on the other hand, makes sense. It’s a nice, crisp word to say, it easily denotes the system’s compatibility at home and abroad, and it’s a commonly used word. Every time I see or hear the word “switch” in a non-gaming context, my thoughts immediately drift to the console. So, what’s in a name? Surprisingly a lot for the Switch.
But more than monikers, the Switch’s success taps into the biggest audience in this generation, the mobile gamer. Though not fit to be slid into any pant pocket, save some massive cargos, that hasn’t stopped people from toting it around in backpacks or a carrying case and cracking it open on lunch breaks, while travelling, or just parked in a shady spot outside. We live in the mobile, social age now, it’s here to stay, and the Nintendo Switch fits right in.
Plus, the system and its peripherals have all the tools it needs to upgrade itself, rather than Nintendo being forced into developing a completely new console from the ground up. The Joy-Cons are packed with tight motion control technology, the tablet is layered with a capacitive touch screen, and the dock has USB ports to accommodate accessories. I can easily see Nintendo simply developing a Switch 2, where only the tablet is remodeled internally with hardware upgrades that match the graphical standards down the road, but the dimensions of the “new” system remain compatible with the dock, controllers, and other fixtures.
So what’s next for Nintendo, then? The Switch has already heralded the demise of the 3DS, so they will likely just milk that cow until it’s dry and not breed a new handheld calf. What about VR? Yes, it is picking up steam, but I just don’t see a global mass of people shifting from a mobile, social world to a confined, socially severed virtual realm. And I don’t think Nintendo sees that either. If I had to take a stab at the future, I would say Nintendo is keeping a close eye on Microsoft’s HoloLens. It’s not getting much publicity, but I can see holographic interfaces invading homes of the general populace before I can see a family buckled to their individual La-Z-Boy recliners with a VR headset glued to their face.
What do you think? Could the Switch be Nintendo’s last family of consoles, receiving tablet upgrades instead of completely new hardware? If not, what undiscovered country of gaming evolution do you see Nintendo boldly going where no other console maker has gone before?