A lot on the line
There was once a dark, ominous presence lingering over the Nintendo Switch. It was a presence filled with skeptical side eyes and unimpressed scoffs as it seemed like Nintendo was limping to the barn with another console that relied too heavily on its gimmick while shoving functionality and overall user experience to the side. That was before the Switch was finally released and began dominating sales, shattering industry records and casually dismissing all the shade that had once been coming its way. Nintendo needed a grand success and, so far, it has found it in the Switch.
Emphasis on “so far.”
The Switch’s early successes are certainly worthy of praise but it’s hard to ignore the premise that much of this success was built on the backs of Nintendo’s classic franchises. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are the best performing games for the Switch so far and it’s likely that many Switch consumers purchased the console with these games in mind. So while both of these titles’ high ratings and sales numbers demonstrate the power of Nintendo’s most iconic titles, those stats aren’t truly indicative of the console’s future overall. The Switch’s presence at E3, on the other hand, could give us a look into the console’s future that even Miss Cleo couldn’t predict.
Switch skeptics and Nintendo non-believers have had very little reason to take a chance on the hybrid console. A base price of $300 certainly doesn’t make it an inexpensive risk either and that’s before tacking on the cost of pricey accessories that feel vital to a comfortable and convenient playing experience. A great showing at E3, however, could be enough to convince many gamers to dive in and take a chance on the Switch. Is anyone expecting Nintendo to put on an entire presentation solely about the Nintendo Switch? Of course not. Especially not after Nintendo decided to once again skip out on a press conference all together this year. What we are expecting (and hoping) to see is Nintendo unveiling some impressive third-party support, dispelling rumors about the discomfort of the Joy-Cons, prove the hybrid console is powerful enough to run the vast majority of today’s most popular titles and make a solid distinction between the Switch’s position in the market compared to the still popular Nintendo 3DS.
Nintendo can achieve all these things at E3 2017 and the longevity of the Switch’s success just might depend on it. First things first, both media and the general public will want to get their hands on the Switch in person if they still haven’t had the chance to do so. For that reason, it will be key for Nintendo to have Switch demos live at their exhibit. Telling people that the console feels comfortable and natural just isn’t as convincing as putting it in consumers’ hands and letting them make that decision for themselves. The media has been filled with mixed reviews regarding how the Switch actually feels in your hands so until some consumers have definitive evidence of the contrary, the Switch may never really show up on their radar.
But even that is a relatively small challenge to overcome. For years many gamers have dreamt of taking their console experience on the road without bringing a large bulky console along for the ride. The Switch is promising to offer just that but one of Nintendo’s most notorious flaws is cheating consumers of actually getting that experience. Without proper third party support, the Switch doesn’t actually feel like a console experience on the go. Without enough titles that feel like true console games, the Switch can come across less like a portable home console and more like a handheld that can plug into your TV. Needless to say, the latter isn’t nearly as exciting as the former. But with games like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, RiME, Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition, and FIFA 18 coming to the Switch, these tides could finally shift. Showcasing these games on the Switch will be an opportunity for Nintendo to prove that their hybrid console’s promises of a complete gaming experience that can happen anywhere is far more than just puffy marketing.
Showcasing and expanding their library of games to include more titles that are available on other current gen consoles will also be an important part of reminding consumers that the Switch is meant to utilize a space completely separate from the Nintendo 3DS. This is a move that’s in the best interest of not only the Switch but the Nintendo 3Ds as well. If the Switch library starts to look like little more than a 3DS clone with the occasional exclusive, the value of owning both consoles will quickly come into question. The recent announcement of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon making their way to the 3DS and not the Switch seems like a great step in the right direction—despite the fact that it can feel a little disappointing to some. As the world prepares for an onslaught of new game announcements and demos to hit E3, there will certainly be a lot of watchful eyes on Nintendo to see which of these major titles will actually make their way to the Switch. Not only that, but these curious onlookers will want to see how these titles perform on the hybrid compared to its other current gen counterparts. It’s not enough to have the same offerings as the competition. The Switch will have to offer similar performance and quality of play as well. Yet again, the E3 exhibit floor may be one of the best opportunities Nintendo will ever have to showcase the Switch’s ability to match the competition.
The early success of the Switch certainly says a lot about the console’s potential. Despite minor setbacks and complaints, the vast majority of Switch consumers have had rather positive reviews of their experience with Nintendo’s latest creation. The challenge now is to convince the average consumer to hop on board. The Switch has to reach the consumer who isn’t willing to take a leap of faith in the name of Nintendo and isn’t curious enough about the first hybrid to want to pour their own dollars into what they will likely perceive as a risky purchase. When the doors to the Los Angeles Convention Center officially become a gateway to all things new and trending in gaming, it will be up to Nintendo to make sure the Switch’s presence is an impactful one. If not, it may become little more than an interesting concept being overshadowed by all the hype and speculation that will surely come with the announcement of Microsoft’s Project Scorpio.