Remember the Nintendo Wii? It was a universal success, and redefined console gaming for an entire generation. Heck, even your grandparents might've wasted a few hours on Wii Tennis or Golf. The idea of motion control, buggy as it was, captured something in pop culture and thrusted the Wii to more than 100 million units sold.
Then came the beleaguered Wii U. Nintendo never quite sold the concept of the system and, despite some stellar first party games, it only managed to sell around 13 million units. That's quite a drastic downfall from its predecessor.
This March, the hotly anticipated Nintendo Switch finally hits shelves. What's the hook this time? It's a portable/home console hybrid. It's a pretty nifty idea, one that has helped the company garner tons of positive press.
So how can Nintendo make sure this is a Wii-level smash and not another disappointment? Buzz may be high, it is a home console and a tablet with buttons that promises to play Skyrim, but it is far from a sure bet. Here are Nintendo Switch: 15 Things Nintendo Can Do To Avoid Another Wii U.
15 Launch With a Stellar Lineup of Games
This is perhaps the most important item on this list. You have to make the launch of a console an "event" and nothing does that more than a cadre of great games. The Wii launched with Wii Sports, a Zelda game, Madden, and even Call of Duty. The Wii U launched with a collection of mini-games called Nintendo Land which just didn't have the cultural punch of Wii Sports, despite being fun in its own right. Otherwise, there was no Mario. There was no Zelda. There were no decent third party games, besides Ubisoft's ZombiU.
Nintendo has yet to announce what sorts of games we can expect to accompany the Switch in March. Rumors have gone back and forth as to whether or not the new Zelda will be ready in time. The company is conducting a live press conference on January 12th which will hopefully announce some big name launch titles. Fingers crossed for Mario.
14 Unlock the Potential of the Virtual Console
Nintendo's Virtual Console, which allows consumers to download classic titles from the past 30 years, has always been a fantastic idea. Nintendo pretty much owns the copyright on nostalgia and they have released hundreds of incredible games throughout the years.
The only problem? Someone in Nintendo's chain of command decided it was a good idea to release these games one at a time, so the company can squeeze some PR juice in the time between major releases. They did this with the Wii, taking the console's full life to amass anything close to a "library" of games. They did this again with the Wii U, starting over from square one.
Obviously, this is an annoying and frustrating practice. People want to be able to think of a game, hop online, download it, and then play it with their friends and family. It's all about the impulse buy. It's all about being able to tell someone, who is on the fence about the system, that they can relive positive memories from their childhood. Waiting 4 years to finally play Super Mario RPG will not cut it. They need the entire library available, from day one.
13 Make Sure Third Party Developers Create Games
Nintendo is one of the greatest game developers in the entire world. There is no disputing that fact. However, they are just one company with limited resources. They can only pop out so many games and still maintain their level of quality.
The solution? They need to actively court other companies to release third party games on the Switch. This was a problem for both the Wii and the Wii U, as they were both vastly underpowered compared to the competition. The specs of the Switch have yet to be formally released, but rumors swirl that they should be close to, or on par with, the PS4 and Xbox One. The initial ad for the Switch seems to be showing Skyrim Remastered running on the system, so there may be some legs to that theory.
If quality third party games come to the system, then Nintendo can take as long as they want on their pet projects, without the consumer feeling as though they just wasted hundreds of dollars on a pretty-looking brick.
12 Get Those 3DS Franchises Up in There
While the Wii U may have been a commercial failure, of sorts, the 3DS was a resounding success. Nintendo's latest portable system has sold more than 61 million units, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Sony's Vita never stood a chance.
Why is this? The 3DS has gobs and gobs of exclusive franchises, from JRPGs like Fire Emblem to quirky gems like Pushmo and Animal Crossing. This is in addition to getting fantastic entries in iconic Nintendo franchises, such as Mario and Zelda.
In other words, Nintendo has sourced much of their development staff to create games for the system, cutting down on precious resources for the Wii U. The Switch gives them a chance to merge these teams and have everyone on the same page. The Switch is a hybrid console, after all. Let's see iterations of all of the 3DS franchises that helped make the portable console such a hit.
11 Make a Real Pokemon Game (Finally)
This is the biggest no brainer to end no brainers. Pokemon is a massive franchise. Remember just a few months ago when your neighborhood was filled with people wandering around looking for errant Koffings?
Still, no major Pokemon game has ever appeared on a Nintendo console. They've been exclusively relegated to the portable systems, which makes sense. However, the Switch, again, marries the horsepower of a home console with the convenience of a portable console. This is the perfect opportunity to release the HD, high-tech Pokemon game of our dreams. There are very few sure bets in this world, but this would certainly have to be one of them.
Pokemon Switch, an actual franchise installment, will sell consoles, millions of them. Some lame Pokemon spinoff will not. Please note, when we say "lame Pokemon spinoff", we are not referring to a modern incarnation of Pokemon Snap. Please make this game, Nintendo.
10 Keep the Droughts to a Minimum
The past three entries have led us here. Nintendo has a habit of allowing gigantic droughts in their release schedules for home consoles. This holiday season's offerings for the Wii U have been anemic at best. As a matter of fact, it has been months and months since anything resembling a AAA title has appeared on the system. The Wii featured similar droughts, but was buoyed by the unique features of the system.
They can't let this happen again. This means doing everything in their power to make sure "must-have" games are appearing on the system on the regular-- twice a month if possible. Nintendo needs to pull in third parties. They need to consolidate their development teams. They need to, somehow, speed up the process of developing games for their most successful franchise characters. They need to do all of this and more.
It needs to always feel as if there is something exciting happening on the Switch. When consumers feel like they are missing out on something, some important cultural touchstone, they will open up their wallets.
9 Make a Game That Actually Uses Amiibo Figures
It is no secret that Nintendo's Amiibo action figures have been an unqualified success. Who wouldn't want a toy cartoon Link or a plush Yoshi? Still, even though these figures have moved plenty of units, many consumers have wondered what exactly the point has been.
You see, the Amiibo figures were a direct response to the success of other toy-based video games, like Skylanders and Disney Infinity. The only difference? These toys had actual games to wrap themselves around. The Amiibo figures simply add tiny functionalities to pre-existing games, some of them laughably insignificant.
So why not make an actual Amiibo game? There are millions of Amiibo figures out there, just collecting dust. Let's give them something to do. The mechanics of said game would, of course, be better left to the experts at Nintendo HQ. Can you imagine, though, how cool it could be? Each figure would get a corresponding land. It would make collecting all of these figures have an actual point, other than filling up shelf space.
8 Create Software that Shows Off Unique Possibilities of the System
Nintendo Switch is hiding some aces up its sleeve. Sure, the main hook is the intersection of home and portable play, but there are some other things going on with the system. For one thing, the buttons and joysticks that accompany the tablet can be removed and split into two separate controllers. The tablet can then be propped up on a built-in stand to allow for some unique two-player experiences.
So, they have to capitalize on this idea. It could be a great way of adding some multiplayer entertainment to road trips and boring visits to grandma's house. The functionality seems tailor-made for franchises like Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart. It also seems perfect for digital versions of board games.
The sky is the limit here. Pretty much any multiplayer game can work in this way, with the only limitation being the size of the tablet's screen. Show off what this feature can do, Nintendo.
7 Give This Console Full Internet Functionality
Let's face it. Nintendo doesn't exactly have the shiniest track record when it comes to embracing the possibilities of the internet. The Wii, DS, and 3DS systems were crippled by those annoying friend codes, which forced users to receive and enter 12 digit codes in order to connect with someone online. Even modern Wii U games suffer from a lack of voice chat when they go online.
Still, Nintendo has made some progress. The company's social network, Miiverse, is a good start. The friend codes, at least on the Wii U, are a thing of the past. Also, it has been reported that the operation system will be a modified version of the popular Android software, which should allow them speedy and hassle-free internet functionality.
Consumers are used to iPhones. They are used to the "always online" functionality of the PS4 and Xbox One. The Switch has to follow in these footsteps or, sadly, it could remain a footnote of gaming history.
6 Release Some Killer Apps
As previously stated, Nintendo has a lot of work to do when it comes to playing internet catch up. This is doubly true when it comes to the world of apps. The Switch is a portable/home console hybrid, with a removable tablet. It's a tablet, so why not give it a robust app store, on par with Apple's gold standard offering?
This includes access to all of the television streaming services we've come to love, like Amazon Video and Hulu. It also includes access to cheap, quick-hit games and applications. As phones get bigger and bigger, the sales of dedicated tablets, like the iPad, have begun to decline. The Switch could be a good way for consumers to purchase a game console and a fully-featured tablet at the same time.
Of course, there may be a problem with this idea. Nintendo has yet to announce whether or not the tablet would include touchscreen functionality. We'll surely find out on January 12th, at their Nintendo Direct online press conference.
5 Integrate Miiverse into the Operating System
One of the coolest features of the Wii U is their slapdash social network, Miiverse. It allows gamers to post screenshots, draw messages, and help people out when they are stuck in a game. However, the social network isn't seamlessly integrated into the system. It operates in the twilight between seamless integration and standalone app.
As it stands now, you have to click on Miiverse and then wait several seconds for it to load, and then wait a few seconds for it to close, in order to get back to gaming. This sputtering wait time needs to be completely eliminated. It needs to be as fast and fuss-free as getting a text message. Just pop it up in an overlay, letting consumers respond in a fraction of a second, instead of nearly a minute or more.
In order to do this, Miiverse will need to be woven into every aspect of the operating system. The company has not announced what their plans are for Miiverse, but one would hope they would take this course of action. It is 2017, after all.
4 Stop Neglecting Other Popular Franchises
When you think of iconic Nintendo franchises, you think Mario and Zelda. However, those aren't the only feathers in Nintendo's cap. There are also franchises like Metroid and F-Zero. However, these popular games have fallen on hard times.
In other words, Nintendo has pretty much ignored them for years. There hasn't been a "proper" Metroid game since Metroid: Other M in 2010, and even that lacked the sparkle of the franchise's best iterations. Metroid's absence has seemed especially egregious, since they haven't even taken the time to develop an old-school side-scrolling version for the 3DS or DS. Racing franchise F-Zero has managed to fare even worse, with the last proper installment appearing on the Gamecube in 2003. That's nearly 14 years ago.
So, Nintendo, get on that! Other franchises that have fallen into disuse include StarTropics, Earthbound, Advance Wars, and Excitebike. We are all waiting patiently-- or not so patiently, depending on which message boards you frequent.
3 Announce a Sweet Price Point
The initial price of a console helps determine its eventual success, or lack thereof. If the price is set too high, the console could become unaffordable for the average consumer. If its too low, it could be considered a "toy" not to be taken seriously.
Nintendo tends to price their consoles on the low side, making it relatively easy for early adopters. They have never launched a new device at more than $300, and it would be extremely surprising if the Switch did not follow suit. One should expect it nestled comfortably at $299, which seems reasonable for a modern gaming console.
However, there is a chance that they take a risk and go even lower. The Wii U launched at $299 and it didn't exactly sell like hotcakes right out of the gate. Maybe they'll try for $249, which would make gamers across the world extremely happy. March can't come soon enough.
2 Concoct Cool and Bizarre Accessories
Remember how the Switch's controllers are detachable? According to reports, that could also work both ways. This means that Nintendo is secretly planning to release a bevy of accessories that plug in to where the controller would go.
They are being called "detachable modules" and could offer up new ways to play games. Picture a gun attachment, or a Pokemon sensor of some kind, and you'll be headed in the right direction. Of course, mum's the word on this stuff but several sources have confirmed the existence of these peripherals. Even cooler? The accessories themselves could come packed in with the game they'll be used with. Saving money on plastic junk is always a good thing.
Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima teased these devices in an interview he conducted in October, calling them "add-on hardware." He also noted that consumers could expect a "wide array" of these accessories. Sounds promising, but they had better be absolutely vital to gameplay.
1 The X-Factor (AKA Hit Us With a Nintendo Surprise)
Nintendo isn't exactly the most transparent of companies. They are likely still keeping many features of the system under wraps. Some of these will be revealed on January 12th, during their Nintendo Direct event, and some may not even be announced until the system's launch. You can never tell with Nintendo. They like to keep us on our toes.
So what kind of x-factors could the Switch bring to the table? Who knows! There is still much to learn about the tablet itself. As stated above, its potential touchscreen functionality has yet to be addressed. The company has also remained mum on the future of the 3DS line of systems. The Switch would seem to indicate a death knoll to their portable line, but with Nintendo, again, who knows.
The horsepower has also yet to be announced, and there is the matter of some interesting patents, which seem to indicate that Nintendo may be wrapping virtual reality functionality into the Switch at some point down the line. All we can do is wait and see. In the meantime, how good does that new Zelda look?
Are you planning to buy a Nintendo Switch no matter what or are you waiting to see what January 12th will bring? Let us know in the comments!