Where did Nintendo go wrong?

Nintendo is in a rough spot currently: The Wii U has been a commercial failure and they need a Wii-like success story again to regain their profits and market share. The project NX was this chance, and I think they blew it. Let me iterate why:

The NX, revealed as the Nintendo Switch, was a huge chance to make everything right: A great new concept to unify “comfy couch” and mobile gaming. The initial reveal video was promising, but with the recent announcements and specs of the device, I see where it will ultimately fail.

They should have went “all-in” on the product itself and attached services, but instead they decided to play it safe. Too safe.

1. Battery life? Three hours for a demanding game is too short. Make the device thicker, get 5 hours out of it at least. Also, make it removeable. You are not striving for the situation where Apple are going.

2. CPU/GPU: Too expensive and demanding. They could have gone with a cheaper competing product. Nvidia want a premium, that’s why Sony got rid of their partnership after the PS3 and went with AMD instead.

3. Dock: It could have been containing a more expensive eGPU in order to boost home performance. Here, they could have pumped the money saved from the Nvidia premium.

4. Online: Yes, spend that premium and put a SIM card in this. Imagine being able to play online wherever you are. Sheesh, put a WhatsApp client on it and watch it sell like hotcakes. It would be so useful to narrow the gap between the Switch and an Android tablet or iPad Mini, adding much more usage scenarios beyond simply gaming.

5. Controllers: HD Rumble, IR sensor… wow. Why not enlarge the controllers and produce them more cheaply without those costly features? All it adds is some waggle gaming that the majority of people are getting tired of after a short time.

6. Size. It already is too large to fit in a pocket, so why not even add an extra half inch and invest in a battery that can actually last?

7. Online Service: Yes, pay for online is okay. But LOANING the people ONE NES/SNES GAME PER MONTH is ridiculous! Why not let them build a library like that?

8. Game selection: Too few launch games. Are third parties really so reluctant to partner with Nintendo? Where are the indies? Nintendo should have done more for indie software support since ages.

They easily could have improved on all those fronts and more, but lowering the price and ensuring the profit margin was more important to them. So they spent the money on gimmicks that many won’t use and forgot those aspects that make it a great gaming machine: Battery, controls, performance, price.

And games.

© Christian Wüst 2017