What did I learn about Nintendo’s new console reveal video? That this is a system for primarily white (or asian) people in their mid 20’s. Oh, and it looks like a TV dinner tray.
A few weeks back now, Nintendo unveiled it’s new NEW console, titled, ‘The Nintendo Switch’. It was presented in a 3½ minute video with a slow reveal at first of the machine, and then towards the end, highlighted people playing it outside in a park. (more on that later) And in predictable Nintendo fashion, the gaming company takes 2 steps forward, while managing to take another step back; leaving them only a day or so ahead of current trends. Sony just released their VR headset, and the Oculus Rift is still on it’s way. The Nintendo Switch may have been cool in 2014, but today it’s borderline stale and out of date. I would give Nintendo points for originality, but overall, touch screens and tiny remotes… kinda suck for gaming. And if Nintendo had kept up with the news of the massive drop-off in tablet sales in the past few years, they’d know that unless you’re playing ‘HeartStone’ or ‘Cut the Rope’, touch screens work best for swiping right when she got that cake.
Now back to the commercial reveal. Overall, the most egregious of offenses wasn’t what they were advertising, but rather how they were advertising. Don’t show me what I can do with it. Show me what I will do with it. Nobody is bringing this with them to an actual basketball court, only to turn it on and play NBA 2K instead of physically playing basketball. That’s literally hilarious. And the first kid to do so, is gonna have the shit kicked out of him, and that little remote ripped out of his hand like a Pokemon Go player in Central Park. I’m not suggesting the campaign portrays fat gross weirdos in their basement, shoving crackers in their mouth and brushing their teeth with Mountain Dew, while button mashing ‘Smash Bros’. But somewhere in between, there needs to be a happy medium that accurately depicts the new tech’s cool features, while staying true to it’s user base. Why not instead have a dad enjoying time with his kids as he teaches them how to play a Mario game, or a bunch of college kids sitting around playing Mario Kart?
I do give the video some credit though for showing a thirty-something playing the new Zelda game. He was alone, in his apartment, with the lights off. That seemed to be the most accurate account of a video game’s audience I’ve ever seen in any gaming ad, ever. And it worked because it’s real. The harsh fact is, is that as much as Nintendo used to push their latest systems solely to kids in the past, it’s really nostalgic millennials and older, that buy these systems. The problem with that though, is that although embracing that business model head-on may play better to Nintendo’s mainstream audience, It won’t bring in new thumbs. If your barrier to entry is too shallow, little may be willing to adopt.
Maybe they should call this system ‘The Nintendo Switcheroo’, because that’s really what’s happening here. The problem with only advertising to an older audience, is that it doesn’t bring in fresh meat. There isn’t one kid in this entire video. Literally, not one. If Nintendo is marketing this towards kids and teens, I wouldn’t know it. But maybe that’s the genius of the video? Kids want whatever they can’t have. They want whatever is fresh and new, and their older cousin is playing. And if that was a deliberate decision, then Nintendo may be a step ahead after all.
Now on to the actual system. I think my main gripe with this new console, is that it’s style over substance. Taking my screen with me, doesn’t really change my gaming experience. It doesn’t do or give me something I don’t already have. It’s gimmicky, and that’s cool…(I guess), but overall, it doesn’t really make me gaze in wonderment as to how I’ll play games in the future. It’s great that their is a huge influx of 3rd party support, but for the most part… who cares? There’s always been 3rd party support. Adhering to Nintendo’s unique and constricting system configuration, forces game companies to ease back on anything outside of low end ports from Sony and Microsoft. It’d be nice to have a decent original Arkham game on ‘The Nintendo Switch’ that plays wholly different from anything I’ve ever used, but I wouldn’t count on it happening. So outside of the typical Nintendo fare, it’ll most likely be another port machine, and that’s about it.
Nintendo clearly has money to burn. They can go on doing absolutely nothing for years, and still turn a profit. It gives them time to spend on pet projects that either go nowhere or don’t hit as hard as they’d like. It’s difficult to say where they may land, and with what product. Personally I thought the ‘Wii’ was total shit, but I love my ‘Wii-U’. (I really do). The ‘Wii’ however did something no other system did at the time, and due to that system’s success and consistent onslaught of recognizable game characters, Nintendo has afforded itself the luxury of taking the risks other companies really couldn’t. One of the last huge companies that had so much time and money dropped into R&D for a defunct product was Google; with it’s Google Glass. And as admirable as it is when a company eats the cost while simultaneously trying to push the tech industry forward, right now, that future of gaming is not touch screens. It’s VR.
In other news, Google recently announced it would halt Google Fiber to over 10 major cities and is laying off 9% of it’s workforce. It’s chief executive, Craig Barrett, even stepped down. Their reason? They took too long to roll out Google Fiber, and now ATT is laying it’s own pipe (cable). I suppose it’ll be good though to have WiFi on the courts, when I gotta impress my tinder hoes with my dope gaming skills.
Of course I could be wrong and it could make a papillion-fazillion dollars…