Nintendo has finally revealed the Nintendo Switch, the next generation console from the Japanese manufacturer. This unveiling had been anticipated for some months, with Nintendo having already confirmed the existence of this new piece of kit. And leaks ahead of the event had already revealed a significant amount of information about the system, much of this has turned out to be accurate.
The handheld/console hybrid is intended to serve both the home and mobile marketplaces. Nintendo has scored particularly well in the latter, but the former is now dominated by Sony and Microsoft, after the Wii U was a commercial disaster for the company.
If the Nintendo Switch is not a success, this could be the last ever home console produced by the legendary video games company. If the Switch is to find a niche in the crowded video game market, it will have to convince consumers to shell out their money ahead of the next gen PlaySation 4 Pro and Xbox Project Scorpio. But how does it compare to these forthcoming consoles?
Very little has been revealed by Nintendo regarding the specs of the Nintendo Switch, but it has been reported that Nvidia will be enlisted to provide a custom Tegra processor. Reports have also stated that the console will utilize an NVIDIA GPU based on the “same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards”.
Nvidia has also indicated that new technology, of an unspecified nature, will be included in the Nintendo Switch when it launches in March 2017. Although Nintendo is keeping extremely quiet on the capabilities of this console, it does seem clear that the corporation has been paying heed to the increased power demanded by contemporary gaming. At the same time, we can’t really expect it to deliver the sort of 6 TFLOPS processing power linked with the Scorpio, nor even the 4.2 TFLOPS of the PS4 Pro.
Nintendo will always deliver the iconic Mario and Zelda titles that it is so associated with, along with the other franchises that have made the company an icon in video game development. But third-party games will also be extremely important for Nintendo, so it is interesting to note the number of confirmed Nintendo Switch developers that have already emerged. The pretty impressive list of these is as follows:
- 505 Games
- Activision Publishing, Inc.
- ARC SYSTEM WORKS Co.,Ltd.
- ATLUS CO.,LTD.
- Audiokinetic Inc.
- Autodesk, Inc
- BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
- CAPCOM CO., LTD.
- CRI Middleware Co., Ltd.
- DeNA Co., Ltd.
- Electronic Arts
- Epic Games Inc.
- Firelight Technologies
- FromSoftware, Inc.
- GRASSHOPPER MANUFACTURE INC?
- Gungho Online Entertainment,Inc
- HAMSTER Corporation
- INTI CREATES CO., LTD.
- KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.
- Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.
- LEVEL-5 Inc.
- Marvelous Inc.
- Maximum Games, LLC
- Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
- Parity Bit Inc.
- PlatinumGames Inc.
- RAD Game Tools, Inc.
- RecoChoku Co.,Ltd.
- SEGA Games Co., Ltd.
- Silicon Studio Corporation
- Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd.
- SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD.
- Starbreeze Studios
- Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
- Telltale Games
- THQ Nordic
- Tokyo RPG Factory Co., Ltd.
- TT Games
- Ubitus Inc.
- Unity Technologies, Inc.
- Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Web Technology Corp.
Sony and Microsoft can expect to receive greater third-party support as the established market leaders, but it looks as if the Switch will have plenty of software from day one.
The Nintendo Switch strongly resembles a tablet computer, and the design of the console is certainly appealing. It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense for the Japanese corporation to directly take on Sony and Microsoft with another hardware behemoth; Nintendo has always defined itself by innovating.
With the ability to dock with a television or be used as a standalone portable device, Nintendo is once again attempting to tap into the family-friendly ethos which made the original Wii consoles such a success. Whether it can make enough mileage out of this, without attracting the sort of hardcore gamers that tend to opt for the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox Project Scorpio certainly remains to be seen.
Another innovation from Nintendo is that it will be possible for gamers to purchase titles on cards, approximately the size of a 3DS game cartridge. This is obviously significantly different from the disc-based gaming of the PS4 Pro, with Microsoft likely to retain discs for the Project Scorpio. It probably doesn’t make too much difference in practical terms, but some gamers believe carts offer technical advantages.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer has already commented on the new Nintendo Switch, with a statement that could be interpreted in a number of ways. Spencer gushed that he is “always impressed with their ability to state a bold vision and build a product that delivers on that vision,” on Twitter. In defence of Spencer, he has made similarly favorable remarks towards Sony, and has clearly attempted to dampen down the so-called console war.
On the other hand, this public persona could be indicative of the fact that Microsoft is a relative underdog compared to Sony at the moment, and the remarks towards the Nintendo Switch could equally be indicative of the fact that Nintendo is no longer really a threat to the Xbox range. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see Spencer acknowledge the innovative nature of the Nintendo machine, and it will be intriguing to see whether this is reflected in the attitude of gamers towards the console.
Nonetheless, despite the positive reception for the Nintendo Switch, the attitude of the city towards the console has been indifferent. The Nintendo share price did not move appreciably following the announcement of the console, and it is clear that investors are hedging their bets ahead of the early sales data related to the machine.
Ubisoft responds to Nintendo Switch announcement
Microsoft isn’t the only gaming company to have responded to the announcement of the Nintendo Switch, with Ubisoft also issuing a statement on the subject. The developer has previously signalled its enthusiasm and intention to support the console, so it is not hugely surprising that Ubisoft is positive about the prospects of the Nintendo Switch.
“With the Nintendo Switch’s unique capacities and design, Nintendo could again redefine the way we play games,” Yves Guillemot commented in a statement quoted by GameSpot. “The Nintendo Switch is accessible at its core and also seizes on the growing trends of sharing more experiences and playing anywhere at any time. Ubisoft and Nintendo enjoy a long-standing partnership and we are currently developing a number of games for the platform, including Just Dance 2017. We look forward to sharing more at a later date.”
The prospects of the Nintendo Switch seem more promising than the Wii U, with the early reception of the console largely positive. Nintendo has understood that it cannot directly compete with Sony and Microsoft, and needs to offer something tangibly different, while also responding to the requirements of the contemporary marketplace.
However, in the long run it still seems likely that Nintendo will eventually become largely a software developer, much as Sega ultimately moved away from hardware.