When the Nintendo Switch was unveiled in October 2016, the world would never be the same again. For decades, gamers enjoyed the latest platformer on a home console system strapped to your entertainment area and a monitor. Nintendo pioneered handheld gaming in 1989 with the Game Boy, and arguably, Sega helped push that industry further in 1990 with the Sega Game Gear, a full-color handheld gaming system. At the time, this was an arms race.
While handheld formats were cool, they weren’t as popular because technology innovation just couldn’t keep up. Sega couldn’t hold on to an audience or developers which led to their eventual demise as a hardware focused organization.
Nintendo kept pressing on with the idea that “mobile gaming” would be around for decades, and they definitely weren’t wrong.
Smartphones Changed the Landscape
When some of the first smartphones hit the market people got excited. I eventually got the heavily marketed “Droid” smartphone (and several other iterations over the years). These phones changed the way we think about, and interact with, technology. Many more people are getting work done on their phones while waiting for things like flights, rides and traffic jams.
As technology scaled and industry leaders like Apple pushed their brand and products further each year, we entered an area where developers started making games for mobile devices.
Today 77% of Americans own a smartphone and there’s estimated to be nearly 200 million mobile gamers worldwide. This is ASTRONOMICAL both in the number of people who are gaming as well as the scale of the opportunity that’s still out there.
Enter the Nintendo Switch
The Switch had been teased so much, it was hard to stay calm when the first details hit the mainstream. Then, Nintendo dropped this beast of a trailer:
I’ve probably watched this clip over 30 times and it’s not because I’m a diehard Nintendo fan, it was the hardware innovation and the commitment to total flexibility towards how you play. At home or on the go, it didn’t matter. If you were following like I was, this was also the first time you saw new games in action.
The trailer linked above made playing on Nintendo Switch, smart and sexy. You could setup anywhere in the world and start gaming with friends or strangers. Don’t have two controllers? No problem, split your joy cons and now you and your buddy can play.
They, in one big swoop, completely transformed what gaming is and will be over the next decade and beyond. The seamlessness of switching up your style from the dock to handheld is incredible.
You have the understand, that this is hardware innovation at it’s finest and this is something Nintendo has been known for, for decades up until the Wii U. The Wii U was by far its weakest console for a wide range of reasons. Most felt like it was an “after thought” by comparison to the original Wii console. Wii U tried hard to create that “mobile” experience, but as they said during the Switch development, the technology just wasn’t there yet and they had to wait.
On Wikipedia, you’ll find a list of over 1200 games either released, about to release or are still in development. Nintendos success these last few years is a result of an incredible software release schedule, an amazing amount of transparency and a return to the roots of who they are. That is, they have always strived to lead the industry and they’re back in proper form once again.
In 2017 they released nearly 300 titles both first party and independent. Of those, Nintendo dropped some of this biggest titles ever.
• The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
• Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
• Splatoon 2
• Flip Wars
• Fire Emblem Warriors
• Super Mario Odyssey
• Snipperclips Plus
• Xenoblade Chronicles 2
• Disgaea 5 Complete
Of those titles, Breath of the Wild has been purchased roughly 8 million times. Guys! Gals! Are you paying attention? 8 million x $60 = $480,000,000. This is INCREDIBLE. When it felt like Nintendo was about to fade into the shadows like Sega, they bounced back in style, poise and in complete control of their future.
The marketing of the switch, its design, its thoughtfulness towards the user and overall functions make this the standout unit to own. Everyone from your kiddo to a hardworking business executive who is always on the go. This system is for everybody and it’s ready anywhere, at any time.
Big first-party titles continue to release every quarter and the Switch is now the fastest selling console of this generation. From March 2017 to December 2018, Nintendo has sold nearly 9 million units and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of slowing down.
For those interested, check out additional console stats here: Putting Nintendo Switch’s 8.2 million US Switch sales in context | Ars Technica
As 2019 rolls in, we’re hearing something about a Super Nintendo Switch with additional hardware improvements specific to graphical capabilities. Even so, developers have been pushing games to Switch using new advances in processing to create incredible gaming experiences on a platform that processes at half the power of a full next-gen console like the PS4.
I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table in the near future. I own more Switch games than I should, but it’s so easy, so fun and non-gamers and gamers love this console.