Alright let’s get this out of the way up front: I am PS4 peasant. Not really by choice but pure necessity – as a young professional still making his way in this crazy world I have found myself with neither the funds or the technical know-how to build myself a nice beefy gaming PC so I have stuck with the dependable and convenient home console. However, as anyone who has had to sit through one of Destiny’s 20GB+ patches can attest to, the consoles are no longer the sources of instant gratification they once were.
This past Friday night I happily popped my Mafia III disc into my console, ready to get up to 1950s criminal hi-jinks and sat through a short installation process. This was a minor setback, however after a few minutes I was prepped and ready to enjoy an open world crime spree. Imagine my dismay when I launched the game and was presented with a SECOND INSTALLATION – the process of which would take over 9 hours to complete. Thankfully, this gave me enough time to read the game’s mediocre reviews and trade it in at my local Game in exchange for 90 minutes on PlayStation VR (and, boy, was that money well-spent).
So console’s convenience factor is now vastly devalued by publishers forcing massive installations on us and it’s widely recognised that, technically, consoles simply cannot compete with high-end PCs. The PS4 Pro and Scorpio are paving the way for a future where more regular upgrades are required to stay ahead of console technology and let’s not forget that we are still expected to fork out up to £40 a year for online services that are of course, completely free on PC. So… why are we all not PC gamers again?
This brings us to the Nintendo Switch. After the failure of the Wii U, the games industry was rightly concerned as to the nature of the Nintendo Switch. In a crowded market where consoles are alienating large portions of their audience, the stage was set for Nintendo to fail spectacularly if they did not come up with a truly unique offering. Against all my predictions, I believe Nintendo have done just that.Although at this stage the technical aspects of the Switch still remain hazy, the core concept here is a winner. As the Wii U failed, Nintendo have regrouped and taken stock of the current climate and came up with a device that takes the home console experience and melds it with tablet and handheld gaming, all wrapped up in that warm Nintendo charm. Nintendo have done right to not split their user base this time – the Switch is the successor to both the Wii U and the 3DS – meaning that fans of Nintendo’s first party games (aka everyone) can have one centralised hub of colourful gaming goodness. For many, the Switch will sit alongside their PS4 or PC, a machine that they can come to for a different experience; an experience that emulates the wonder of the first time you fired up the Nintendo 64 or the original Wii.
Of course, the Switch could still let us down. As Wii Music proves, Nintendo don’t always execute on an excellent idea. As with most consumer technology, this device will live and die by its price point. Go as high as the PS4 Pro and you’ve priced yourself out of the casual market, and also made it a tough sell for folks after a second machine. As Michael “The Value Factor” Pachter explained earlier this week, undercutting the latest consoles will give the Switch a running start in carving out its own niche.
It’s too early to form a meaningful opinion on the Switch, while so much remains unknown. One fundamental question that remains unanswered is whether or not the tablet screen is indeed a touch screen. The fact that not a soul in the 4-minute pitch video tapped the screen to interface with it leads me to believe that this functionality will be absent – which seems like a bad move. If Nintendo could position the Switch as a unique gaming system AND an entry-level tablet that supports the likes of Netflix and Youtube then Nintendo find themselves in an even better position to market this machine to the casual gamer who has passed on current gen systems.