It's easy to be snarky about the Nintendo Switch
This is one of those moments that come in the life of every journalist. A respected company comes out with a product that is revolutionary for them, but often provokes an extreme measure of derision.
We've seen this plenty of times before, most notably in announcements by Apple for things like the iPod and the iPhone. I'll have to admit I initially thought the iPod was overpriced and unlikely to make a dent. I was wrong. I initially thought the iPhone had great promise and thought it would overtake the whole smartphone market, while others derided it for lacking a physical keyboard and its woefully oversized (3.5-inch) screen. I was right.
So I'm not batting 1000 on those things.
This is not an article describing the device, which was just announced today. You'll find plenty of that stuff elsewhere on the internet. Another thing you'll find on the internet is loads of snark. Snark is a fun thing for people to write. Upon first seeing the Switch today, I could think only of the Snark that could be written about the Switch. Here's what I came up with.
It's too late
Apple came out with the iPad in 2010. That was followed by dozens more devices for Android and Windows. Nintendo, meanwhile, delivered an Etch-a-Sketch-sized WiiU that didn't impress anybody and never caught on. It's now six years after the iPad, and this is the best it could do?
It's too button-centric
The Wii was a huge thing 10 years ago and Nintendo has never come up with anything to follow that up. The magic of the Wii was the motion controller -- players no longer had to be button jockeys to excel. The Switch returns all the power back to the button jockeys. Nintendo, say goodbye to little kids. Say goodbye to old people.
It's just another thing to buy
The only thing the Microsofts and Sonys and Nintendos of the world know is that they have to manufacture monolithic devices every few years. They make the most minor of improvements to successful devices, slim them down a little, change the outside color and re-sell them as brand new devices. This just doesn't seem fair.
More stuff to lose
The Switch comes in lots of pieces. Little parts you click on either end, docks that connect to your TV, separate controllers so multiple people can play at the same time. Lots of pieces. And they want you to take it with you while you visit friends or fly on planes. They know you're going to lose some of those pieces along the way. They're planning for that to happen.
Back to cartridges
Didn't we already learn our lesson about this one? Cartridges just mean another part to go flaky and eventually lose. It means standing in line at GameStop instead of downloading something in the comfort of your own home. And it's yet another format that one day will be superseded by The Next Big Thing.
Where's the Killer App?
The key to the success of the Wii was the game Wii Sports. It had something for everyone to enjoy, and units simply flew off the shelves as people clamored for it. The Wii U had no such app and it stayed on the shelves gathering cobwebs. The Switch needs a Killer App, and it wasn't among those shown at its introduction.
Real reality is not where it's at
The success that Playstation VR has displayed this week bodes ill for Nintendo. While it will be a while before a majority of video game players move to Virtual Reality, the concept is stealing the attention of developers, who are busy at work on their own VR masterpieces. The more developers move to VR. the fewer the developers that will be available to make games on alternate systems like the Switch.
I could be wrong
As I say, I was wrong about the iPod, so I could be wrong about the Switch. Nintendo might find a Killer App for the Switch, causing it to take the market by storm. People will point to my article and make fun of me. And I wouldn't blame them.