The release of Nintendo’s newest gaming console, the Switch, has the electronic entertainment world in a frenzy. Stores are consistently selling out of the hybrid console almost as soon as they get them in stock. With the rush of attention Nintendo is getting for their bold outlook on the future of gaming, one may be curious as to what the competition is planning. We know Sony’s latest gaming console, PS4 PRO, has been ultimately successful and the talks of Microsoft’s updated XboxOne titled “Scorpio” is getting more and more praise as the most powerful home console to date. But is that enough to keep open-minded fans coming back for more, or will Nintendo take back control of the enormous market that is video games? Do Sony and Microsoft need to compete on the same level of their Japanese counterpart or simply continue their ongoing quest towards high-end graphics and gameplay?
After the initial release of the wildly successful Wii, game critics, long time fans and casual households everywhere got a taste of what the innovative minds at Nintendo have to offer. Given the boom the Wii gave the gaming community we saw its competitors try their hands at motion controls with Sony’s “Move” and Xbox’s “Kinect”, both seemingly stuck in the wind when compared to the ease and subtleness of the Wii. So after the beginning accomplishments of the Switch, should Sony and Microsoft try their hands at bettering the hybrid console phenom? Or perhaps stick to what got them here today by focusing on their dedicated fan base and impressive game selection.
Looking back at Sony’s handheld past, one would think they’re ready to turn a new page, discover something fresh or, more or less, focus their efforts on what sells, the Playstation home console. The Playstation Portable System (PSP) did remarkably well given its long lifespan and broad number of game titles but future endeavors into the handheld world proved to be in decline. With important added features like a second analog stick, touchscreen and a rear touch pad, the Playstation Vita (released in 2012) has undersold just about every other handheld console to date. Meanwhile Nintendo not only has a solid fanbase for their handheld DS family, but successfully released a half home console, half mobile console, and less than two months later announced a new handheld, the 2DS XL for this summer. Either Nintendo has terrible product management or they are confident they’re delivering exactly what their dedicated fan base wants, needs and craves at affordable costs. My money’s on the latter…
With all this talk about Sony and Nintendo duking it out in the tricky territory that is the handheld market, Microsoft sits in the corner choosing not to participate. Making subtle hints at tossing the idea around, the gaming world has yet to see any mobile Microsoft consoles floating about. But, with the early success of the Switch and almost immediate drop of the 2DS XL releasing soon, Microsoft may try jumping on board the handheld market that Nintendo seems to have all figured out. Who knows, maybe a streaming device that works with the Scorpio console may be on the horizon, giving players even more reason to upgrade to the superior game system.
One thing we do know is that Nintendo has given competing consoles much to think about on terms of innovation at the next level. Could either Microsoft or Sony be planning to step further into the hybrid console market, or both for that matter? Or perhaps they should give their fans what they want, improved quality graphics, traditional controls and a long list of groundbreaking games both with first and third-party developers. The Switch has now officially been done, so would either opposing company be gaining anything by ripping off the Nintendo market? Some might say fans flock to a certain gaming console based off of what they’ve already produced, so why switch (no pun intended) now?
With changes going on everywhere you look in the entertainment industry, technology rapidly advancing and new ideas striking when we least expect it, maybe adopting the mobile/home console is the next big step in gaming. That being said, many thought the motion controls and immersive play style Nintendo brought with the Wii was sure to be the future of video games, only to be snuffed out by what has and always will sell, quality video games, no matter how you play them.
Nintendo is nothing short of innovative and carries its weight in new and inventive ways while lacking in the graphic department, until now. Making strides in the performance area of the never-ending console war, the Switch produces gorgeous HD graphics, positioning itself right in the thick of the competition. Whether or not Sony and Microsoft choose to follow suit, continue pushing the high-definition and/or shaky VR market or produce something entirely new remains uncertain. With E3 right around the corner, expect the bar to continue to rise in response to the stirring success of the hottest item on the market right now, the Nintendo Switch.