In an hour long press conference last night, Nintendo announced the details of their latest console. After a brief preview video debuted in late October of last year, many expressed interest, but there were still unanswered questions surrounding the release date, price, and other essential pieces of information that Sony and Microsoft had already provided about their latest consoles, the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S, respectively.
Many of those questions were answered last night, beginning with the release date and starting price. The Nintendo Switch will be arriving March 3rd, 2017 starting at $299. Pre-orders went live last night, with Walmart and Amazon filling up their pre-order slots fairly quickly. Best Buy’s pre-order site is still working, so you can secure your console here if you’re interested.
Nintendo has always done things a little differently than the rest of the console market, and it has been argued on a few occasions that they were never actively involved in any sort of “console war” over the past 15 years or so. With an iron grip on the mobile market, they continue to use their home console as a way of experimenting with what gamers want, and ultimately provide a unique gaming experience that neither Sony nor Microsoft can give.
This got me thinking: what’s something that gamers really want right now?
How about the return of couch co-op?
A common theme that popped up in the debut video as well as through various demonstrations last night was centered around friends getting together to play. This has always been one of Nintendo’s biggest strengths: the ability to bring people together. Whether you were chasing down your friends in Goldeneye on the N64, delivering a sweet home-run strike with the nefarious baseball bat in Super Smash Bros. Melee on the Gamecube or dominating party games in Mario Party 10 on the Wii U, Nintendo has always provided a platform that makes it easy for you and your friends to have a great multiplayer experience.
Nintendo certainly makes it clear that multiplayer is a central theme of the Switch. With two controllers built in from the get-go, and the ability to have 4 players on any given console, Nintendo continues to emphasize the appeal of easily accessible multiplayer experiences. A console and experience that invites gamers and non-gamers alike to take part.
In the past, Nintendo has maintained this focus at the expense of the single-player market. Gamers looking for immersive single-player experiences had to look to Sony or Microsoft, as both companies invested time and energy into perfecting the individual experience. Nintendo increasingly became a “little kid” console, with some pangs of nostalgia for Zelda and Mario games occasionally bringing back a handful of gamers if only for a short while.
The Switch appears to be striking out from Nintendo’s usual behavior by simultaneously going after both of these markets. For those interested in great single-player experiences, Nintendo has brought on a plethora of third-party developers ready and willing to deliver some fantastic titles, including a port of the extremely popular Elder Scrolls title, Skyrim, Xenoblade 2, and of course The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo has provided various ways for people to take their game on the go – whether they slide the joycon controllers into the sides of the display and use it as a tablet, or detach the controllers and use the built in kickstand for a different control scheme, or even pair full sized Switch controllers with the display.
Overall I’m very excited and hopeful for Nintendo’s upcoming console. With a promising single player library, as well as the various ways to play solo, Nintendo appears to be combating one of its biggest opportunities from the past two generations: recapturing gamers who grew up loving Nintendo, and have since been lured away by more engaging experiences from the Playstation and Xbox lineups.
I, for one, am anxious for March 3rd to get here, and to see what else Nintendo has in store for us.