Now that the excitement (or upset) of the Nintendo Switch Presentation is over, I want to go over a few bullet points of my thoughts after the fact. Nintendo addressed the games issue, they showed a ton of interesting games at the show and soon after on social media, but things get foggy when looking beyond the line up. The Nintendo Switch device itself is still a huge mystery.
1) Nintendo’s Online Network
Nintendo completely failed to explain how their new online network will work. I wrote an extensive article on this topic yesterday, but I think it’s worth noting again. During the presentation, they breezed through the fact that a) the online network will now be pay to play, Nintendo biggest advantage now gone, and b) they revealed that features such as voice chat and game invitations will be done via a companion app for the Switch. This raises a few red flags. Questions I have: Will the app be the mode of communication/online interaction or is it simply a companion app to an overarching interface on the Switch itself? How much will Nintendo be charging for this service? Will the netcode be improved? I’m not sure about you guys, but I’m done with laggy play sessions of Super Smash Bros. online. Will there be other incentives to pay a subscription outside of essentially renting NES and SNES games month to month? I know that there will be online play for some Virtual Console games that have this feature, but is that really enough to justify a subscription fee? To be honest, I’d prefer if Nintendo have all of the online features on the console, not via a smart phone app – although it’d be awesome from a secondary companion aspect. I’d also use the Virtual Console as a Netflix-like service where you can stream Nintendo’s entire backlog of games for a fee. I’d prefer if you could subscribe to this service separately or it be something you could receive via Nintendo’s main online subscription. If Nintendo’s gonna money hat, why not do it with their backlog? They’re literally the only console company that could do this and get away with it, but it has to be good. Oh, and one more thing, what is going on with Nintendo Account? Will the My Nintendo Awards/Achievement program be present at all? What about that cloud service you guys were going on about with DeNA? None of that stuff has been outlined and it’s frustrating.
2) Nintendo Switch User Interface
From what little I’ve seen of it, the Nintendo Switch UI looks incredibly sleek and clean. I love the design of it, but again, I have concerns. What can we expect from the UI? Based on what we’ve seen, as pretty as it is, it looks very bare bones. After looking at the gif below, you see sleep mode/power, system settings, a controller sync tab, a photo/video album tab, Nintendo eShop, and that red button is the notifications and updates tab. Will the Switch have on-screen notifications? At the top left you see an avatar that represents separate logons for each account holder on the device, in a separate photo, you see that some of the avatars feature Miis, so will Miis make a return? Will I be able to use my fashion foward Miitomo Mii on the Switch? Will there be a Miitomo app on the Switch? Also, how will the share button work? Are there possibly more features being tucked away by the share button that we don’t see on the UI? Is this what the launch day UI will look like? So many questions!
3) Nintendo Switch Specs
I knew for a fact that Nintendo wasn’t going to discuss specs, because that simply isn’t their way. Even during the Gamecube era and prior when they made consoles that had specs that rivaled their competition, they didn’t get into those type of debates. That being said, I did expect to see some type of a tech demo or a game they would parade as the showcase for the Nintendo Switch’s limits. That did not happen. Instead, they spent 20 minutes of their presentation talking about the HD Rumble inside of the Joy-Cons. While I personally think Joy-Cons and motion gaming is still interesting and fresh, that’s not exactly what will appeal to gamers out here in the west. Sure we’ve seen how beautiful The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks, but that is a game that also tried to achieve parity with the Wii U version. Super Mario Odyssey looks amazing, but it’s easy for Nintendo to make a game with that particular art style look nuts on lesser hardware. I think the real test will come when we eventually see a new Metroid (calling it) or maybe even a new IP Retro Studios is supposedly working on. As a gamer, I care more about new experiences than sheer power, but many people do care about these things and Nintendo, or even Nvidia, should make a post about this sooner than later to quell those unquenched on this topic.
4) Media Applications
Looking at that Nintendo Switch UI gif, I see the games marque in the center, but I don’t see any media apps like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Twitch, etc. While I personally don’t care because I have apps like this on literally every device in my home, many people don’t want to have to switch off of their Switch to turn on other devices just to use Netflix. Nintendo’s main problem so far with the Switch is that they have not shown us the convenience factor. Not having media apps is just one of those small gripes that frustrates consumers. Especially since Nintendo is creating this device to compete in the mobile space, they’re already off to a rocky start.
5) Achievements and Social Features
This next question sort of bleeds into bullet point #1, will there be a system wide achievements system? Will there be some sort of activity feed to replace Miiverse? Being able to connect with friends is part of how you build an ecosystem and it’s how you ensure that your consumers always choose you first. Nintendo prides itself on how social gaming is important in the local arena. While I think it’s great, when it comes down to the online stuff, they’re totally clueless. You want to know why the PlayStation 4, a console that had paid online for the first time ever this generation, has been successful in retaining that online audience that Microsoft used to be king in? The PS4 offers an ecosystem that keeps people engaged in what their friends are doing. The trophy system in the PS4 allows friends to discuss with one another about how they got said accolade or even have friendly competitions for trophy scores. Simple things like this keep people within the PlayStation Network. The Xbox ecosystem works the same way, but I used PlayStation as example because it usurps what Sony was doing in terms of online with the PS3. If the Nintendo Switch online network fails to retain users or sustains a healthy ecosystem, Nintendo will be forced to change some things if they expect people to pay for it.
Overall, I do still have interest in the Nintendo Switch because at the end of the day it’s about the games, but Nintendo needs to address all of these questions between now and launch and even more importantly before Nintendo starts charging for online services in Fall. If you have similar concerns, be sure to share this article and let your voices be heard by “@-ing” Nintendo and Nintendo of America on Twitter.
Have any concerns about the Nintendo Switch that weren’t listen in today’s article? Sound off below!