The Early Success of the Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch launch has been a huge success. Nintendo reports that its their fastest selling hardware launch ever, while also doubling production of units from 8 million to 16 million for the fiscal year. The company clearly likes what they’re seeing and are doubling down on the product, something that did not happen with the Wii U.
Kudos to Nintendo for rocketing out of the gate. The proposition of a home and portable console hybrid is compelling and very much real. It’s by no means a perfect device, but I love mine to bits and think that it has a lot of potential to satisfy gamers of all sorts. Here are a few things Nintendo can do to keep the hype train rolling.
Get more units onto store shelves ASAP
While it’s to be expected for a console to sell out at launch, there’s a buzz around the Nintendo Switch that hasn’t been created about Nintendo hardware since the Wii. Anecdotally, I have friends who aren’t Nintendo loyalists scrambling to find one of their own. I also observe people at the store talking about or inquiring about availability all the time. The same can’t be said for the Wii U, whose buzz was essentially muted long before it came out due to missteps from the start.
Doubling production is a great move on Nintendo’s part; bullish even. By making 16 million units in the first fiscal year, Nintendo is making more Switch units than there ever were Wii U consoles. The quicker they can capitalize on this hype, the better position they’ll be in going forward.
Address the glaring issues with hardware
Knock on wood, but my launch unit is running great with no issues. Others haven’t been so lucky. From dead pixels, to the left Joy-Con controller frequently disconnecting, to the dock supposedly scratching screens, Nintendo needs to nip all of that in the bud. Nintendo can’t afford to have the bad PR like this stifle their sales while losing good will from its player base. Whatever the solutions are for these issues, be transparent and address them quickly.
Maintain a steady flow of quality games
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a phenomenal game and one that is clearly helping sell the Switch. However, what will players go from there? We already know of Arms, Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey, but it’s going to take more than that to keep current and potential players happy.
Indie titles seem perfectly suited for the platform, as most of them don’t necessarily require the most powerful hardware. Snipperclips and Fast RMX are great examples of what indies can do on the Switch. A stream of indie games may not sell consoles, but they will keep existing players engaged while players wait for the next big Nintendo game.
Most curious will be if the platform can garner more third party support. It’s been the bane of Nintendo since the Nintendo 64 days, and the initial line-up of 3rd party support for the Switch has been abysmal.
Get the price of the hardware down to a more competitive level
Nintendo is riding high off of sexy new hardware and a killer launch game. However, once the smoke clears, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in most places is a better value, have a more robust lineup of games, and they’re more powerful. As of writing, for the cost of a Switch, you can get a PlayStation 4 with Uncharted 4, or an Xbox One with Battlefield 1. The hybrid-nature of the game can help justify some of the differentiation in price, but not all of it.
I’m not saying that the Switch needs to outsell either of them. I think they’re too late for that, nor do I think that it’s Nintendo’s goal to do so. However, in order to stay competitive against those juggernauts, the value proposition has to be a bit better. Bare minimum, get a pack-in game in there. Even something as small as Snipperclips could help once the hype dies down a bit. Ideally, they can find a way to at least stay on par, if not a bit lower in price than its peers in order to maintain its momentum.