By now, anyone who wants to know (and some who probably don’t) are aware of Nintendo’s announcement of their forthcoming console dubbed the Switch. The reveal trailer showed a lot of the usual Nintendo creativity and fly in the face of convention that we always expect from them. The Switch console does exactly what its name states; it can switch from a home entertainment console into a portable handheld device. No need to stay tied down and no need for any extra accessories or even games, since the same cartridge (yep, Nintendo went cartridge on us) is used in home gaming and on the go. This is a huge step for gaming and places Nintendo away from a head to head (to head) battle with Sony and Microsoft. Genius levelstep even.
While I will discuss the ramifications I feel this might have on the gaming industry and what changes it could reap at a later time, in this article I would instead like to look at how this is going to affect Nintendo’s other consoles on the market. I think it’s safe to assume that this is the beginning of the end for the WiiU. The console, while innovative never reached the pinnacle of sales its predecessor did and very quickly loss huge amounts of market share to the PS4 and XB One upon there release. Within the next year I expect support and titles for that console to be at a minimum as Nintendo moves focus onto the Switch. This is nothing new during the changeover in a console cycle.
With the dual nature of the Switch console, it does however raise some questions as to the future of the 3DS line of systems. This has been Nintendo’s tried and true, never die console for years. It has dominated the handheld market and been one of the only portable gaming options that could truly rival the growing user base of smartphones. But introducing a console that can be used in the same niche as the 3DS seems to spell the beginning of the end for the handheld. The Switch seems poised to overtake the market as Nintendo’s possible only console. At a glance it just makes sense to go in this direction. Nintendo has already began making forays into smartphone app development for games which shows they aren’t turning a blind eye to statistics that show more and more gamers and casual players are using mobile devices rather then bringing a second device as they go about there day. By taking this step with the Switch, Nintendo is creating a new avenue to move their massive catalog of popular games franchises and large fanbase from a handheld device that is playing roulette against the smartphone gaming boom into a safer environment (home console) while losing none of its portability and accessibility.
What does Nintendo lose by potentially making this move? 3DS owners used to the ease of cartdridges and simplified controls will not lose any of these comforts. Nintendo would still have a platfrom that is portable and caters to that target group of consumers. They also have the added benefit of possibly growing their home console and handheld consumers by giving them the opportunity to explore both sides without the risk of a purchase they may not use, since they are the same unit. We have a lot to learn about the Switch before it is released but this seems like the smart play for Nintendo. Now we simply play the waiting game.