Let’s learn from history, please.
Nintendo, I know we’ve had our ups and downs, but I really want the best for the Switch. I want to love this cool new system and all the games that it will play. Initial signs are promising, but, given the last five or so years of your console line-up, forgive me my remaining concerns.
The residual elephant in the room of the past few years is definitely third party support; you know it, I know it, anyone who has forsaken their shady stone home knows it and, to be fair, you seem to be taking steps to rectify this issue. Featuring Skyrim in your console unveiling? Totally cool. For that matter, so was having Dragon Quest XI confirmed for the Switch long before we were even aware of what the name on the console box would be.
The thing is, though, that the Wii U started out in an almost identical position, complete with the third-party hopes those looking forward to the Switch are currently feeling. Within a year of launch, there were Wii U versions of the previous year’s hits, such as Mass Effect 3 and Arkham City, as well as a few games that were actually available on the Wii U at the same time as its competitiors, like Assassin’s Creed 4. After that, though, third party titles tapered off, as did releases in general. Don’t get me wrong: there were some great non-Nintendo titles released on the Wii U in 2014 and beyond (Bayonetta 2 comes to mind), but Wii U players were left with a dearth of things to play for extended periods of time.
The number of first party games didn’t help with that. The assumption that myself and many of your fans made was that first-party games would be coming. Now, Xenoblade Chronicles X is awesome, and Super Mario 3D World is a wickedly good time if you have someone to share the couch with, but let’s be real. The console got the two most unnecessary Zelda remakes possible (one is of a game from a system the Wii U is backwards compatible with!) and will not have a mainline title that is exclusively its own for any length of time. Even Hyrule Warriors got a port to the 3DS, albeit a manically choppy one.
While we’re on the Zelda note, I have a suggestion as to how the whole two-console release thing should go this time around. By all means, feel free to make the Switch version more visually appealing, though that art-style would look great even if it was running on an Atari Jaguar. This is the Switch’s killer app right now, so let it be just that. That said, please, please, PLEASE don’t advertise for any specific version of Breath of the Wild. The visual upgrade of the Switch shouldn’t be noticeable in any significant capacity in a thirty-second TV spot, anyways, but you’ve really done enough to grate on those enthusiasts enthusiastic enough to purchase a Wii U. I want you to take a good look at what one of your competitors has done this year; Sony has an improved version of their main console, but are they advertising about how much better games look on the new system? No. Those in the know are in the know, but they are not making anyone feel like the versions of this season’s hot new releases that they’re getting are inferior. Obviously, it’s a bit different since you’re introducing an entirely new product on the market, but a good friend of mine has already sworn off buying Breath of the Wild directly from the source because of the whole delayed dual-release debacle. I implore you, for my sake just as much as yours, to cease putting him in any worse of a mood. Advertise the Switch’s cool detachable remotes, its hot launch lineup, and the portability. Just don’t advertise how great Breath of the Wild looks.
With all of this said, the early signs are encouraging. The reveal trailer did an impeccable job of hitting all sorts of demographics and, in regards to my previous point, Reggie was clearly conscientious about talking about Zelda and Zelda alone when showing off the game on The Tonight Show. That appearance, by the way, was a great showcase of the console. You picked an audience you clearly knew you could win with and, given The Tonight Show’s habit of going viral the next morning, would have a wide reach.
I really do want you to succeed, Nintendo, and it looks like you’re on the right track with the Switch. At the very least, the name isn’t apt to confuse anyone out of the loop who may be hunting for consoles this holiday season. Please, just keep this momentum going with actual advertising, good publicity, and, above all else, games. I look forward to seeing what January 12 has in store.