In March 2017, Nintendo released its latest console, the Switch. Its hybrid nature, the fact it had an incredible Legend of Zelda game on release in the form of Breath of the Wild, and its sleek form factor and premium feel led to it becoming a bit of a roaring success.
In classic Nintendo fashion, it had games like 1-2-Switch and Just Dance 2017 at launch that appealed to the casual audiences. Pile on the likes of Splatoon 2, ARMS, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Mario + Rabbids in the months that followed and the Switch was already looking to avoid the same pitfalls the Wii U almost immediately fell down. Those being a severe lack of third-party support, and lackluster first-party offerings from Nintendo to boot.
The honeymoon period was real. We all bought the same indie games we’ve already bought on every other platform, because now we could play them all on-the-go. There was something missing, though.
Where were the apps?
At launch, the Switch didn’t have any major streaming apps ready to go. No Netflix. No YouTube. No Crunchyroll for the anime fans at the back. Nada. “Oh Nintendo,” we all said, looking at the bleak app offering, “some things never change, eh?”
And apparently, it’s true, they kinda don’t. In the almost three years since the Switch launched back in March 2017, the lack of major streaming apps is somewhat baffling. In that time, Nintendo’s managed to get YouTube and Hulu apps secured for the Switch. That’s it.
When you’ve got an install base of over 50 million, a great library of first-party games, and a significant step-up in third-party support, surely you’d want to round things off by offering the same, if not a very similar lineup of apps to your competition in Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.
Perhaps even more concerning is the lack of communication from Nintendo about the lack of streaming apps on Switch. The likes of Twitch, Mixer, Netflix, BBC iPlayer (for UK folk, at least), Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime Video and the new Disney+ are all still absent, with no signs that they’ll be coming any time soon.
Head onto the Switch’s eShop right now and you’ll find no section or genre that simply lists all the non-gaming related apps on there. The ‘Utility’ and ‘Other’ genres include some of these such as InkyPen and izneo — two services I, to be completely honest, have never heard of — but also include a seemingly random selection of games alongside them, like Fortnite.
It all kind of feels like Nintendo’s aware of the Switch’s blatant lack of apps, and is intentionally trying to tuck it all (or the lack thereof) away. Out of sight, out of mind.
Sure, the Switch’s 720p screen isn’t going to rival the experience that streaming on your home TV is going to offer, but it’s about the practicality of having all your games and favorite streaming services packed into one neat package.
The same thing applies for those claiming you just need to take your laptop, tablet or phone with you. Sure, that’s a thing, but not everyone necessarily has the money or the space to take multiple devices with them on-the-go.
Three years in and it feels like any dwindling expectations of a Netflix app and the like coming to the Switch are misplaced.
The big N at least managed to get its latest piece of hardware a substantial library of games this time. Perhaps the Switch’s successor will bring us these streaming apps, and the one after that will bring us an online service that rivals the likes of PlayStation Network and Xbox Live! I jest, I jest… but just you wait for Nintendo to prove me right.