Nintendo Switch rumors suggest the 2017 console may be even more underpowered than gamers previously assumed. With a Maxwell GPU as opposed to Pascal, its potential horsepower seemingly rests closer to Wii U than PS4 and Xbox One. If this is true, there are a few serious battles Nintendo will have to fight in 2017’s tech landscape.
1) Difficult Ports: Third-party support is the lifeblood of most successful consoles these days, and the Switch needs it more than ever. That being said, when you’re about to release a system that’s nearly half the power of its competitors, it makes the porting process either a total chore or an impossibility.
Massive open-world games like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Mass Effect: Andromeda would require significant downgrades to run on the rumored Switch specs, and that process takes time and money to intentionally make a product look worse. That’s exactly why you’re seeing older games like Skyrim and Dark Souls 3 being kicked around for Switch. Those titles don’t require as much effort or sacrifice to run, but they’re not new. As much as some may be jazzed for mobile Elder Scrolls from 2011, you won’t sell a ton of systems that way.
2) Creative Vision Hampered: If you don’t want to port your game to Switch, the other option is to make original content for it. From what rumors tell us, Ubisoft is onboard for a Rabbids-Mario crossover. That’s pretty cool.
However, the difficult thing about making games for an underpowered Switch is that suddenly you’re not free to do whatever you want. Sure you can make an open-world RPG or adventure if you want, but the graphical fidelity or length of the experience will have to change to make it happen. This isn’t like the PS4 and Xbox One that are progressively getting more powerful than creators even need. It effectively pigeonholes Switch into being better suited for certain types of games than others. When the other consoles aren’t as limiting, the desire to make original games for Nintendo gets diminished.
3) It Won’t Attract The Mainstream: Graphics have long been a benchmark for the “casual gamer” because they’re so easy to judge. It’s easy to see which system has the biggest experiences, and, to passerby, the console with that honor is superior. The cases where you don’t see this happen are either because of a clever gimmick, like the Wii, or a huge head start to market, like PS2. The Switch has neither of those benefits.
The Nintendo Switch may have a hard time exciting casual gamers if its graphics and gimmick aren't good enough to set it apart.
The hybrid nature of the Switch is definitely awesome, but it’s a lot less useful than it would’ve been 10 years ago. These days most of us have smartphones or tablets for portable gaming, so having to carry around a dedicated device for that might actually be more of a hindrance than a perk. This is especially true if the Switch compares closely or unfavorably in power to those devices. With its portability being less relevant, suddenly all you’re left with is a fairly ordinary home console with games that have a lot less shine than the competition. Not a great mainstream look.
4) VR Support Questionable: Amongst the latest rumors we also saw some passing references to VR capability for the Switch. However, if its specs essentially equal an augmented last-gen console, those types of experiences aren’t going to be feasible without some serious developer voodoo or a future hardware revision. Just take a look at PlayStation VR. Despite being tethered to this generation’s most powerful console, it still noticeably falters compared to a PC gaming rig.
VR definitely isn’t mandatory at this point in time, but, if the current Switch can’t handle it, it’s yet another area where PS4 and possibly Xbox One have an advantage.
5) It Foreshadows An Unwillingness To Change: Nintendo’s stubbornness might be one of its most fatal flaws. With the Switch we’ve been offered the air of change, but Nintendo delivering yet another low-spec product doesn’t exactly prop up that message. We’ve seen this before and, even on the Wii, we got really bored of it.
If that’s not enough to concern you, here are a few more examples. Do you like that archaic friend code system in Super Mario Run? How fun has it been to hunt down an NES Classic with its stupidly short controller cord? Nintendo still can’t create an online platform and still can’t competently supply or design its hardware without truly baffling logic. The fact that the Switch may be less powerful than many analysts thought is just icing on the cake. This doesn’t show us a new Nintendo. It signals the the same old frustrations with a little fresh paint.
Nintendo Switch is expected to release in March 2017.
Do you think the Switch must have specs that compare to PS4 and Xbox One to succeed? Tell us in the comments section!