The Switch may be a home console first and foremost, but it also represents the best portable console yet. Should Nintendo position it as a replacement to both the Wii U AND 3DS?
C1: I’ve had half my hair cut off! Look how short it is!
C2: And someone stabbed me in the face.
C1: It’s rather tender!
C1: Hello everyone, thanks for joining me here on P Myth Gaming. Topic of discussion today is this little blighter, and what happens to it once the Switch gets here.
Now Switch is being touted primarily as the successor to the Wii U, a home console first and foremost, but one you can also take on the go. Despite what some people reckon, I actually think Nintendo are right to market it this way, even with the comparisons to X-Box One and PS4 this approach may invite. A home console you can take on the go is a much more intriguing proposition than a portable you can plug into your TV.
C2: It also stops people going out of their tiny little minds claiming Nintendo have abandoned the home console market.
C1: But this still raises the question of whether Switch and 3DS will cannibalise each other’s sales in the dedicated portable gaming space.
Despite the slow start to it’s life cycle 3DS sales have actually been pretty robust as of late. According to NOA president Reggie-Fils Aime Nintendo sold more software in the last 3 months than in any other 3 month time period in the console’s history, and the system itself is experiencing year on year growth.
C2: Thank you Pokémon.
C1: Reggie has also said that there is currently unannounced software in development for 3DS, and we’ve still got Pikmin coming, as well as yet another entry into the Fire Emblem series.
Just this last week, at Nintendo’s Corporate Policy Briefing, President Kimishima reiterated that the Switch would not be a replacement for the 3DS, stating
‘Nintendo 3DS has unique characteristics that differ from those of Nintendo Switch. Furthermore, the price points and play experiences offered by the two systems are different and we do not see them as being in direct competition. We plan to continue both businesses separately and in parallel.’
So the system is by no means dead yet. But the question is, whether or not Nintendo should keep the 3DS alive, or look to consolidate it’s efforts into one system. Namely the Switch.
A while back Nintendo merged their home console and hand-held development teams, and we’re starting to see the manifestation of that. We got Super Smash Bros. For both Wii U and 3DS, we’ve just had a port of Super Mario Maker, and now Yoshi’s Wooly World too. We’ve also seen the likes of Xenoblade Chronicles get ported over to 3DS from the Wii, and Hyrule Warriors, which started out on Wii U, also got a 3DS version.
These are all pretty meaty games, though some of them only really ran properly on the New 3DS,
C2: Smash Bros. took a good century and a half to load on the original one and Hyrule Warriors Legends ran like it was in callipers.
C1: These ports, as well as newer stuff like Pokemon Sun and Moon, have really pushed the 3DS to it’s limits, and with it being a 6 year old system now, developers must be wringing everything they can out of it. You would think that they would relish the extra freedom that the Switch’s power would give them.
C2: Sure it might be underpowered compared to PS4 and X Box One, but it makes the 3DS look like a calculator.
C1: What’s more is part of the problem that both 3DS and Wii U had, was an initial lack of first party games, with huge droughts in between big releases. By focusing all their efforts on one system, we’ll get more games, more often, and won’t have to worry about ports that maybe don’t work quite as well on 6 year old hardware.
Now, you can understand Nintendo’s reticence in abandoning an install base 60 million users strong, but if they’re looking to coax the 13 million Wii U owners to upgrade, why not entice those 3DS owners too?
That corporate briefing this week praised the effect that Pokemon Sun and Moon both had on hardware sales. If a new Pokemon game can have that big an effect on sales of a system that’s been around for over half a decade, imagine what it would do for a brand new gaming system, that you can still take with you when you’re out and about, and also boasts fully fledged console gaming, featuring a brand new sandbox Mario title.
C2: The same users who were driven to invest in Sun and Moon after running around dodging traffic playing Pokemon GO, are the same ones who grew up playing Super Mario 64. Marketed right, Mario Odyssey could really tap into that same nostalgia.
C1: We already know the Pokemon company are working on something for Nintendo Switch. Frankly, if it’s a mainline Pokemon game, it all but guarantees the Switch’s success.
Hmm I’m not sure about the Switch you know.
C2: Yeah, but that’s where we get Pokemon now
C1: True but the price point is a little bit high…
C1: It’s also hasn’t got the same oomph as PS4
C1: I know but..
C1: If the next mainline Pokemon game was released on Switch, people would flip out, and buy the system in their droves. Imagine how gorgeous it would look. Imagine having 8 player 4 on 4 battles. Imagine if they finally gave us the MMO Pokemon we’ve dreamt of for years.
C2: Switch sales would be that large you’d see them from space.
C1: So yeah, short term it might not make much sense to abandon the 3DS quite yet, and maybe another 12 months of scaled down releases is the right approach. But Nintendo basically have the dedicated handheld space to themselves.
C2: Sorry Vita fans
C1: Why not take advantage of that basic lack of competition, and, once the Switch has been available for 12 months say, and they don’t have to worry quite as much about reassuring people that it is a home console, switch
C1: to encouraging 3DS owners to move up to bigger and better things.
They’ll no longer have to worry about maintaining software output for two systems, meaning we’ll get even more games for the Switch. And there’s nothing to say that they all have to be massive games either, a 2.5D Zelda game in the Link Between Worlds vein, would be awesome in HD. We’re thankfully at a point now where great looking, shorter 2D games are perfectly acceptable.
No-one could really complain if Nintendo moved on from the two pillar approach and put all it’s eggs in Switch’s metaphorical basket. They’ve steadfastly stuck by the 3DS, and turned it’s fortunes around impressively after it’s slow start.
But it’s had a full life, it’s almost time for Nintendo to take it by the hand, lead it into the retirement home, and make sure it’s comfortable alongside the GBA and the Game Boy, and let Switch take it’s place in people’s pockets and backpacks.
C2: Hand on heart
C1: What do you reckon? Should Nintendo stick with maintaining two systems, or should they throw everything they’ve got, including Pokemon, at the Switch? There’s a handy comment section down there, let me know!
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