Nintendo Switch release fever is underway, but, with every new console launch, there are a few lingering concerns. Will its games, price and specs be strong enough to keep gamers interested for the next five or six years? Here are a few key areas to consider:
1) The Lack Of Triple-A Third-Party Games: While early indie support for the Nintendo Switch appears to be fairly solid, the initial third-party efforts from major studios feel like an afterthought at best. Games like Just Dance 2017 and I Am Setsuna are several months old. Further down the line are ports of Rayman Legends, Ultra Street Fighter II and some version of Skyrim.
Whether Nintendo fans want to admit it or not, the lack of new releases from third-parties mirrors the poor treatment we saw at the start of the Wii U console generation. I don’t think we need to remind you how that turned out. Third-party support can definitely improve with a larger install base, but it simply can’t stay at the current pace for Switch to be a major success.
2) A Comparatively High Price: When the Switch’s $299 price was revealed last month, a large portion of gamers agreed that it was a little higher than they anticipated. Let’s face the facts – the Switch is absolutely going to compete in the minds of consumers also considering the purchase of a new PS4 and Xbox One. At its base level, the Switch doesn’t even include a game. As it stands now, PS4 and Xbox One can be found for as low as $200 with packaged titles if you look hard enough.
That discrepancy also doesn’t take into account the many hidden costs of the Switch that gamers will likely incur if they want the full experience. Need to buy a Pro Controller for games that use a D-pad? Prepare to pay an additional $70. Meanwhile, a carrying case costs about $30, and a decent SD card will run you about $40. By the time you’re done setting up your Switch, you’ve spent almost double what you need for the other guy’s machine. That’s not a great look.
3) Low Specs: Nintendo’s been cagey about revealing the Switch’s specs, but what we do know is that they’re generally closer in horsepower to the Wii U than Xbox One or PS4. That won’t matter to all gamers, but, at some point, it can become a matter of principle. How many folks are going to be OK with paying significantly more for comparatively underpowered hardware?
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Low specs is also what makes the porting process more difficult for third-party developers. To get a game like Mass Effect: Andromeda to run on Switch, for example, BioWare would need to strip down the PS4 and Xbox One build. Not only does that take time and cost money, but it also hurts a creator’s vision. The gaming public seems more concerned about performance today than its maybe ever been. Can the typical Nintendo strategy succeed in that climate?
4) Hardware Issues: The console isn’t even on store shelves yet, and we’re already getting reports of hardware issues from major publications. For many pre-release units, including our own, the left Joy-Con can randomly become desynced in the middle of gameplay. That means loss of control and, for difficult games like Zelda, potential deaths.
Early studies suggest it might not be a simple fix either. Standard issues like environmental barriers may be the cause. A firmware update might provide a remedy, but gamers aren’t going to settle on controllers that aren’t 100 percent reliable. Almost every new console has speed bumps, but we don’t often see them this early or this widespread.
5) Network Services: Nintendo plans to charge somewhere around $30 for an annual online service, but we still know almost nothing about it even though it is less than a week away from launch. The fee doesn’t kick in until the fall, but you’d think we’d get some clarification by now.
Key elements like the Virtual Console will be discussed “in the future,” and we’re still not sure if a smartphone app is truly required for in-game voice chat. This is probably the least prepared a console’s internet features have been at launch in the last decade. It makes us wonder if things will be just as incomplete by year’s end.
Are you worried about any of these issues as the Switch release date draws near? Are you OK with paying a higher price for fewer third-party games in the future? Tell us in the comments section!