Why The Nintendo Switch Has An Uphill Battle To Success
On January 13, Nintendo is going to reveal more information about their newest console, the Switch. Outside of a groovy reveal trailer that only highlighted its main features of portability and detachable controllers, we know very little of this future hybrid console. We have a handful of launch titles, some patents and rumors about things like motion controls, and 3rd party developers pledging their support.
Yet, like most major announcements from Nintendo, people are anxious to learn more. Video gamers, casual and hardcore alike, both want to like Nintendo again and return to the days of their youth with Mario and Link. But if Nintendo wants to return to their golden age of games, they have a lot of obstacles to overcome first.
Regaining Brand Loyalty
At the beginning of the console era, starting with the original Nintendo and really picking up with the SNES, Nintendo had some of the most loyal fans. Recently, Nintendo has lost a lot of fans and good faith with multiple blunders, including things like the Wii U, poor marketing, relying on gimmicks like motion controls and pushing away 3rd party developers.
For the current console landscape, that brand loyalty is more important than ever. It’s what draws in new purchases and retains gamers to their console for the long term. It’s especially important among groups of people who play together when determining what consoles to all buy.
A lot goes into building brand loyalty, like providing dependable services, producing helpful innovation, being exciting and up to date and having the best games. Nintendo failed at this with the Wii U, and to an extent the Wii, and needs to prove themselves when they launch the Switch.
Overcoming Old Marketing
The video game crash in 1983 nearly ended the gaming industry as a whole, thanks to poorly produced games oversaturating the market and destroying consumer trust. This lead to the bankruptcy and collapse of industry titans like Atari and Coleco. Many people thought that video games as a whole were finished until the rise of the Nintendo.
Prior to Nintendo, most video game consoles and games were sold in the computer section in retail stores and were marketed to both adults and children. Nintendo changed that by deciding to sell their consoles and games in the boy’s toy section at store and focused their marketing on children. This, in turn, lead the entire industry to focus on selling to children.
Selling to younger generations held true for a long time, but eventually those children grew up and companies shifted their attentions. More mature games were developed and marketing highlighted young adults instead of children. Nintendo though, never adopted this new approach, instead focusing on being family and children friendly.
This, in turn, has pushed away adult gamers from Nintendo. The average gamer is 35 years old, meaning the majority of the gaming marketing isn’t children, and Nintendo needs to attract these players back. Their reveal trailer was a good start, with no children in sight, but focusing on adults playing the Switch.
More Intense Competition
Regardless of what Nintendo says, they are in direct competition with Sony, Xbox and PC games. Not only that, since the Switch will be mobile too, it will compete with tablets and smartphones. It’s not like the olden days where they only competed with Sega for dominance. Nintendo has to fight for attention and money from every different side.
Even though they are the oldest company in the gaming industry, with the Switch they are the new kid on the block. Both the PS4 and Xbox One have a solid user base already, many of whom aren’t looking to buy another game console. Like a new kid at school, first impressions will be essential for the Switch to have a profitable and popular.
The world of video game reviews has two major platforms: online articles and videos. Hundreds of YouTubers make their living reviewing and playing video games. In turn, the games they play get free publicity in their target market.
Nintendo though, didn’t like the idea of people getting money from playing their games, so they forced their hand in the pot. Now, if somebody wants to make a Lets Play or review of a Nintendo game, they either have to give some of their profits to Nintendo, or risk having the video taken down by copyright.
This has really pissed off many big YouTubers and hurt their exposure over all. To properly utilize the internet video juggernaut, they’ll need to rebuild trust with YouTubers and produce a lot more quality content on it. Without YouTube on their side, their games will gain less exposure at release time and have a harder time building a long term fan base.
Not Listening To Their Fans
Nintendo fans have been trying to be heard by Nintendo for decades now. They want to share their opinions on their favorite games and what they want from the company. It’s why kids sent letters to Nintendo Power with their ideas on new Pokemon and why people rant on Twitter at the company.
Understandably, it would be impossible to respond to every single complaint or idea they get, but it also feels like Nintendo is behind the times. They are only now developing mobile games, making an open world Legend of Zelda and finally getting more onboard with social media. These were all things fans were screaming at them to do years ago.
Now, there are countless instances and ideas that fans want that Nintendo isn’t acknowledging or producing. For example, remaking the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, making a sequel to Pokemon Snap for the Wii U, or having enough NES Classic’s for the holidays.
Listening to their fans better and using data from social media could guide them on what games to make, how to improve current games and help prevent massive failures like the Wii U from happening again. The fans want to help, but Nintendo needs to open their ears and listen.
Overall, Nintendo is backed up against the wall with the Switch and has a long road to success ahead of them. We’ll have to see what Nintendo will reveal on January 13, and the future in general, to see if the Switch is the phoenix rising from the ashes or simply another gimmick to collect dust.
What are your thoughts? Are you excited to get your hands on those detachable controllers? How do you think it will perform compared to the PS4 and Xbox One? Got some concerns about the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Share with us in the comments below.