Pre-launch hype is now upon us, and everybody, as usual, is full of hope. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but all of that hope will be crushed come March. And that’s okay.
Every time a new system is on the way, we’re told that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s usually communicated to the consumer, that being you and I, by buzzwords and your usual business vocabulary. You know what I’m talking about.
“We are very excited.”
“This new console shows some great potential.”
“We have a great relationship.”
“We know that this device has the potential to capture some new markets.”
“We look forward to seeing some of our great new content on this great new platform.”
Am I calling EA COO Peter Moore a liar? Maybe.
Guys, can we please stop fooling ourselves into believing this complete and utter bullshit, especially when it comes to Nintendo’s third-party partners? Do we not already know how this is going to play out?
Here’s what’s going to happen, step by step, as usual.
1- Nintendo will have a slew of third-party games at launch, with the vast majority of them being ports of games that are nearly half a year old.
2- Some of the ports, content-wise and tech-wise, will be better than the PS4 and Xbox One versions. Some of them will be worse.
3- Regardless of their quality, these third-party games will be sold at double the price that they are being sold for on competing systems once they’re on store shelves.
4- Consumers, most of which have been shafted by third-party titles on Nintendo systems in the past, will not buy these ports because they are not idiots. Besides, Nintendo will produce some decent (at the very least) launch content that takes advantage of the new hardware and that’s way more appealing
5- The only third-party titles that will garner significant interest are exclusives that actually try to do something new with the hardware, regardless of their quality (unless they’re total garbage).
6- In spite of the fact that the titles mentioned in point five of this list will sell decently, third-parties will be disappointed by the sales of these (and their other) titles and say that Nintendo fans have once again shunned them.
7- Nintendo fans will defend themselves by saying that they just want new games that are not gimped versions of what’s already available on other systems. In spite of this, even the games follow that criteria will sell poorly because people want to play them on a good online infrastructure with a larger playerbase.
(PS: you’ll respond to this by telling me that Nintendo will have good online on Switch and that I have no way of backing this claim, and I’ll respond that you know as much as I do that they will find a way to mess it up, because they’re Nintendo.)
8- Third-parties will keep supporting the Switch for, like, one more year in hopes that this might not be the same old Nintendo problem.
9- It will be the same old Nintendo problem.
10- Nintendo will have to support the Switch on its own.
Now, you’re probably thinking: “wow, why the hell is this guy even running a Switch-only news site if he’s such a pessimistic Nintendo hater?”.
Thing is, that’s far from being the case. I’m just a Nintendo fan who also happens to understand reality, and look at things objectively.
Obviously, the Wii U failed for the reasons stated above, but also because its hardware was far from being up to snuff. I don’t think that the hardware side of things is really an issue because, well, in my opinion at least, third-parties do terribly on Nintendo systems for more than hardware and support reasons.
The main reason is simple: people do not buy Nintendo systems for third-party titles. Don’t believe me? Check out this list of the GameCube’s best-selling titles and tell me what you see.
One single game published by someone other than Nintendo broke the 2 million sales mark, and that title was Sonic Mega Collection… and the GameCube’s hardware was just as good as the PS2’s, if not slightly better! None of the GCN’s top ten best-sellers was published by a third-party.
Here is a photo of a random eBay listing to illustrate my point.
Take a look at the PS2’s best sellers. Eight of the top ten were not published by Sony. The original Xbox had a little more first-party presence amongst its best-sellers, yet six of its ten highest-selling titles were not published by Microsoft.
So why is it that Nintendo fans don’t buy the Japanese giant’s systems for third parties? Your guess is as good as mine, but I think that’s it simply because Nintendo does it best.
Nintendo makes the best games, period. Of course, that’s a terribly subjective statement, but I’m quite sure that no one would buy a Nintendo system without thinking that their games are at least great.
And I’m not just talking about your standard Nintendo fare like Mario Kart, Mario Party and Smash Bros.
I’m talking about your original, think-outside-the-box, “wow that’s insane” category of Nintendo titles. Things like Pikmin. Things like Splatoon. Things like Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker and Kirby’s Epic Yarn.
That’s why I buy Nintendo systems. That’s why everyone buys Nintendo systems no matter what they tell you.
“OMG IS THAT COD ON NINTENDO?”
When’s the last time you heard someone say: “Damn dude, I’ve really been digging Call of Duty and its sick Miiverse integration”?
Never, because no one would ever say that.
When’s the last time you heard someone say: “Yo, that Wii U version of Assassin’s Creed really is a step up from those terrible PS3 and Xbox 360 versions”?
Never, because no one would ever say that.
Maybe the Switch will enjoy solid support from Japanese publishers that traditionally have provided good software to Nintendo’s handheld family, but this is not usually what people mean when they say that Nintendo lacks third-party support.
Here’s my one and only expectation for the Switch, considering everything that I said earlier:
Nintendo will now be developing for one console rather than two. Its internal studios will be able to focus on the Switch, and actually feed us with a steady stream of content until the hardware is more obsolete than it already will be at launch.
Nintendo will have strategic partnerships with outside publishers like they did for Bayonetta and Hyrule Warriors as a way to ensure that they have a sufficient amount of content for the system.
Nintendo will (obviously) also make games for Switch. These games will be great, fresh, innovative and somewhat nostalgia-inducing, because Nintendo makes great, fresh, innovative and somewhat nostalgia-inducing games. We will buy those games because they are the games we bought the system for.
The system itself will have a 4-5 year life cycle, and in its last year, we will be seeing a minimal amount of new releases on the system since Nintendo will start focusing on their next platform.
And that’s okay.
Because the promise that I see in those 3-4 years of solid content is one that excites me far more than any third-party title for the Switch ever would.