I should be writing my essay for college, but instead here I am writing about the Nintendo Switch. Why? Because I somehow found myself caring deeply about the console, the company and the success that they should have. I’m writing this hoping to make a change, because I want to make a change, a positive change for everyone involved. I can’t do it alone.
The Switch Launch
The launch lineup is much better than people make it out to be. In fact, it is much better than either the Xbox One or PS4 launch lineup. Unlike those systems, this one has a killer app. If The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not your cup of tea, there are a bunch of games of different calibers for different kinds of people.
It does seem like a weak launch though, due to the relative lack of games, and that’s a fair assessment. I believe rather than calling it a “weak launch” a more appropriate term is a “soft launch”. It may not match the definition of a soft launch exactly, but that is the closest description. This launch, on March 3rd, is for Nintendo fans first and foremost. The lack of features at launch, expensive games and pricy accessories support this idea. The holiday season is going to be the “actual launch” for the Switch, just like all the other consoles. Such an early launch also opens opportunities to create contrasts. $300 at launch with no games could change to $250 in the holiday season or $300 bundle with a game.
There isn’t much to say, so I won’t go into much detail, console accessories are quite expensive in general. The question is, what do you get for your money?
A Pro-Con short for Pro Controller, creates a fun contrast to Joy-Con is $70, which is not that far off PS4 and Xbox controllers and it has more tech (HD Rumble, NFC, Gyro) and boasts longer battery life(20 hours reported versus ~5 hours on PS4 and up to 10 hours on XB1)! The Sony and Microsoft controllers carry $60 MSRPs, which means that it’s only about $10 more for all of that extra tech.
When you buy a Joy-Con remember, Joy-Con is plural! pack, you effectively get two controllers, which you can use to play local multiplayer games. The $80 price tag is very consistent with the price for the Wii remotes – $40 each – brings far more and better technologies than Wii remotes and provide you with a traditional control scheme. To be completely honest with, I’m not sold on the Pro-Con just yet; I suspect Joy-Cons will be quite comfortable, but as of yet I have not gone hands-on. Just Pause will have our first hands-on impressions available next weekend.
Is it worth it? You decide for yourself.
Paid Online Services
Paying for the servers doesn’t actually make them better. You would expect that if you’re paying more, you’re getting more, right? Counter-intuitively, that is not the case when it comes to paying for online on consoles and comparing that to free PC online. Playstation Network and Xbox Live outages are nothing new. Steam, the largest digital marketplace for games on PC, was also a target in a recent hacker attack just before Christmas. It was down for a total of 4 hours. That’s a long time, but PSN was down for almost a day after a similar attack. A paid service should have better protection than a free one, no? Valve’s free online service still has better DDoS protection than paid services on consoles.
In addition to that, paying for servers won’t fix P2P problems when someone’s hosting a match on a shoddy connection. Most console games use P2P as compared to dedicated servers despite all the money that Sony and MS are hoarding from these subscriptions.
Nintendo is offering a “trial” of that service first before committing with our money. Well, we aren’t getting the full experience in March. During the trial period you only get online gameplay – no app, no Virtual Console rentals, no deals. There’s no way to know if we get our money’s worth and in addition to that, Nintendo focuses a lot on its local multiplayer capabilities, which, I think, undercuts the value and the need for the service itself. Plus, what games are there to play online by the time service becomes paid? This is a much more subjective thing, but I felt that this is a fair point people should keep in mind.
Nintendo does not have the best track record as an online service provider. Now, there are two points to this argument. First one is that Nintendo’s service has been bad on Wii U and we would’ve had no reason to believe that it will be better, if not for their partnership with DeNA. I’m willing to give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt on this one and believe that they can work out a better infrastructure and host servers more efficiently than in the past.
Secondly, Nintendo has a poor track record on providing good deals to consumers. Coming from My Nintendo points and Just for You deals that advertise games you already own, there is a very low bar set. What SNES/NES games do people expect to get? I highly doubt that they will give out their biggest sellers (like Earthbound) for just $30 a year. Why would they?
So, there we have it, paid online is bullshit and there’s tons of info about it on the Internet, not very hard to find. They do it because they can, not because they need. Nintendo is a company and companies work by providing a product or a service for a price to their customers. I don’t see a service it’s providing by charging for online gameplay. It’s basically like paying for air. I don’t see how providing the same or inferior experience to a free service for a price should be encouraged by paying for it. I believe we are better than that. I believe in Nintendo as a company and I believe we can influence this industry in many good ways.