Nintendo Switch’s Innovative Concepts May Never Bloom Due To Launch Price, Line-Up And Accessories Pricing
In the weeks before the Nintendo Switch presentation, we were being told that Nintendo learned from the mistakes the company did with the Wii U, preparing a line-up for the console's first year that would blow everybody away. Quirky and unique games like the Mario-Rabbids RPG were supposed to accompany ports of Wii U and multiplatform games, giving players a rather vast choice of diverse titles that would carry the console until the release of other heavy hitters later in the year. Sadly, none of this is happening.
As a long-time Nintendo fan, having owned all of their consoles so far, I was pretty excited for the Switch. Having to travel often due to personal reasons, the idea of bringing my home console games wherever I go is really enticing. But the presentation did curb my enthusiasm a little, starting with the launch price, which is higher than anticipated. If the console was going to cost between $200 and $250, as many retailers had previously speculated, there wouldn't be much reason to complain, even with a small number of high-profile launch titles. $299 may still be a reasonable price for some, but things in Europe are much, much worse: most retailers are pricing the console at €329.99, which around $351; a price that's, in my opinion, way too high considering what the console offers and the launch line-up.
When the Nintendo Switch launches on March 3rd, players will have a very limited choice of titles. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Bomberman R are the two most notable titles, with 1-2-Switch, Just Dance 2017 and Skylanders Imaginators rounding up the less than stellar launch line-up. The future doesn't look too bad, with the impressive Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and ARMS coming this year, among other titles, but these first party titles may be the only big titles we will get this year if the console does badly on the market. And the danger is very high.
It's really baffling how Nintendo is handling the Switch launch line-up: the Wii and Wii U launch line-ups were much more solid and diverse. The Wii U, however, still failed on the market in the long run, due to the same reasons the Switch might: high entry price leading to lackluster sales leading to minimal third party support leading to the lack of games. With the addition of the unexciting launch titles, which can only make matters worse.
Not considering how Nintendo is releasing an underpowered console once again, there are many other things that will, most likely, not sit well with many. A few examples are the limited 32GB storage space, which will force players to spend more money to get an additional SD card if they're planning on purchasing digital titles, the paid online services with the smartphone app for additional features, and the lack of information on a true account system. With all these issues, why should anybody spend over $350 to play Breath of the Wild at launch with increased resolution and better graphics, if they can just spend $60 to play it on Wii U and get the Switch at a later date and, most importantly, a lower price? With Nintendo cutting the 3DS price considerably just six months after launch, a Switch price drop isn't even that unlikely.
Pricing of Nintendo Switch accessories isn't making things better either. With the console's portability and on the go multiplayer capabilities being some of its defining features, it doesn't make any sense to price additional controllers so high: the Joy-Con bundle at $79.99, the Pro Controller at $69.99. Prices are in line with those of other manufacturers, sure, but Sony and Microsoft aren't trying to push the same core concepts as Nintendo. The additional dock's pricing is also way too high for what Nintendo is trying to achieve with its new system.
It all sounds like a bad joke: Nintendo showed all these innovative concepts during the presentation, but the only way to enjoy them is to actually spend way more than the console's $299 price. Again, just to be able to enjoy to the fullest a few new titles, the biggest of them also coming on another, less expensive, platform, and ports, most of them not even coming at launch. How many will shell out $400 and more in a couple months to play an old game like Rayman Legends together with other players on the go? Very, very few, I reckon.
There's no doubt that the Nintendo Switch is a unique console with a lot of interesting ideas, but the way Nintendo is handling its launch may prevent all of those unique features from reaching their full potential. It's obviously too late to beef up the console's launch line-up, but toning down pricing and offering bundles with games and accessories may improve things. Despite its difficulties, the Wii U still received plenty of very good titles and the same can definitely happen with the Switch, but having a successful launch to get publishers on board with big projects is more important than ever for the company's future. Satoru Iwata left an impressive legacy, and it would be sad to see the company waste it with some wrong decisions.