Hey – hey. It’s me.
I know you might be wrestling with the decision of whether you’re going to pre-order a Nintendo Switch when they open for pre-sales, which either started around midnight or will kick-off around 9 AM ET depending on where you’re ordering from. I’m in that very same boat.
Nintendo made the Wii U, is the main issue, and we had one of those and it didn’t work out, even though some of the games were great. Ultimately the Wii U grew dusty, and finally you couldn’t remember the last time you powered it on, so you took it out of the home theater rack and now it’s in a bag somewhere, or maybe at a relative’s house because they have kids and might be able to get some use out of the thing.
But Nintendo also made the 3DS, and that’s been pretty consistently great. Sure, it’s not an everyday kind of thing, but you play it frequently enough when new games come out that it was worth the investment. It’s still not like a smartphone in terms of how much value you get out of it – but there’s always something worthwhile going on over there on the 3DS – all you need to do is remember you own one.
The Switch had a splashy debut yesterday, with typical Nintendo whimsy, but it actually only confirmed a single top-tier, existing property game for day and date release with the console – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind. A lot of the other games people will want won’t arrive until later in the year.
And this is a different kind of gaming system – it’s kind of like that rash of Android tablets from strange third-party companies that did double-duty as gaming devices, back when it was cool that your tablet could plug into your TV, pair with a controller and become a gaming console.
None of those worked out, and there’s no guarantee this will either. But there’s Mario running around in an open sandbox human world that resembles our own! Tiny controllers! A weird Arm game! All kinds of stuff that tickles that “fun” response center like nothing else out their in video games right now.
Switch is kind of a $300 gamble for gaming fans, and one that comes immediately following a bet that didn’t pan out for a lot of users with the Wii U. But Nintendo has something that’s rare among companies building tech – a hefty stock of good will among fans. It can release a dud – or even a few – without doing too much to damage its brand and suppress interest in future products. The Switch will sell well out the gate, and pre-sale sellouts at Amazon and elsewhere show that. The question will be how well fans are rewarded for their loyalty over time; no font of consumer goodwill is endless, after all.