For a solid couple months and weeks, the Nintendo Switch was pretty much untouchable. After that first trailer dropped, hype and optimism swirled out of control as fans began to fill in all the blanks with their own imagination. Perhaps, though, it was that original lack of information that led to near-universal disappointment when we were hit with the actual facts. It’s no secret that anticipation for the Switch has died down a bit, thanks to the mediocre presentation that was held not too long ago. The presentation revealed a lack of launch games, a lack of real third-party support, egregious accessory prices, and other tidbits of information that lowered the console down from its godly status, bestowed upon it months earlier. However, even after that, the majority of fans are still enthusiastic about the console, and I myself retain a good amount of hope for it. But what if, in some alternate future, or maybe our own, the Nintendo Switch completely bombs Wii-U style? What if the Nintendo Switch fails to succeed commercially and critically? What will that mean for the future of gaming’s most historic company?
Nintendo has a lot riding on the success of the Switch. The console itself has quite the momentous job on its hands. First of all, the Switch needs to restore Nintendo’s credibility as a home console manufacturer, especially after the reception of the Wii-U. Meanwhile, it also has to prove worthy as a portable device. And from its launch, the Switch will be fighting an uphill battle to gain a share of a market currently dominated by the PlayStation and Xbox. Now, if it fails to do all those things, it’s clear that Nintendo will have a lot of thinking to do.
One of the things often recommended by gaming pundits, is that Nintendo should follow in the footsteps of Sega, and just stop with the production of hardware altogether. Unlike any other company in the industry, Nintendo is in an especially valuable place, with the sheer amount of iconic franchises they have under their name. Conceivably, if they made new entries and brought them to a system like the PS4 (where you can sell to fifty million players), Nintendo could easily make absurd amounts of money.
However, maybe this wouldn’t necessarily be the case. As Super Mario Run has shown us, even Nintendo’s biggest giant won’t always crack the market. Although the game was downloaded by millions of people, comparatively, only a small amount of them decided to actually purchase the game once it started asking for money. But to be fair, most of that can be attributed to the fact that the general public assumed the game was free. Furthermore, smartphone games often have a certain stigma around them, meaning that a ten dollar premium price was simply too much to ask for on the app store platform. On the other hand, people have the exact opposite mindset when turning on their console. So after the Switch’s possible failure, Nintendo could potentially make a comfy living by simply becoming a publisher of games, and nothing more.
Now of course, in this theoretical situation, just because the Switch has failed, that doesn’t mean it’s the end for all of Nintendo’s systems. Even after five years, the 3DS is still going incredibly strong, and support for it hasn’t let up. So it wouldn’t be surprising if Nintendo decided to keep going with its line-up of portables, while also doubling down on their efforts in that market. And perhaps, later on, they would decide to launch yet another home console to remedy their failures in that area. This time, would they learn from their mistakes and become more progressive? Or would they be forever doomed to continue being the brash and traditionalist game company they’re beginning to be known for?
As of now, all of this has merely been conjecture. Other than some unfortunate things here and there, we have no reason to believe the Switch won’t be a success. Going forward, hopefully we hear nothing but good things, and that on launch, the fans get exactly what they were yearning for. But, if the Switch does fail, it will surely not be the end for Nintendo.