When the original Wii hit the streets, Nintendo was praised for being innovative. Third-party developers seemed eager to shove their games on the console at first, but eventually they began to notice that owners were more focused on more generalized motion-based titles than hardcore experiences. The Wii U appeared to set its sights on that seemingly forgotten hardcore crowd with better hardware and a tablet-like controller, but hardcore players and developers just didn’t take the bait, flocking to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One instead.
Now Nintendo is attempting to reach that crowd again with the Switch. And while the hardware and Nintendo’s overall innovative approach — combining a console and clamshell handheld into a single unit — seem hopeful, whether or not customers and developers will flock to the new system is currently a wait-and-see game. Publishers are understandably cautious about what they are throwing onto the next-generation post-Wii hardware, including Electronic Arts chief financial officer Blake Jogensen.
During the UBS Global Technology Conference, Jogensen said that EA will be bringing one if its biggest games to the upcoming console/handheld hybrid. But he also hinted that the gargantuan games publisher will only provide “a game or two” at first, and indicated that EA can’t predict if the Switch will succeed or fail at this time.
“We’re excited for Nintendo,” he said. “It’s an interesting device, but I can’t yet predict how broad it’s going to be, and will people be interested in a portable device alongside their regular portable device that they have.”
Jogensen definitely makes a point. Nintendo is trying to eradicate the line separating the living room experience and on-the-go gaming with one single solution. Right now, there seems to be no plan to move away from the 3DS platform when Switch arrives in March 2017. The company has even stressed that the handheld aspect of Switch will be different than the 3DS, and software will continue to roll out for the older handheld well into 2017.
But the big problem with handheld game consoles is that the increased progress of mobile technology enables gamers to play great titles on their smartphones and tablets. This is the very reason why Nintendo shareholders pushed the company into releasing titles like Pokémon Go and Miitomo. However, Nintendo has remained successful in the handheld market it essentially created with the original GameBoy while Sony’s latest Vita handheld just didn’t catch on here in the States. Many are curious as to how the Switch will disrupt and/or merge the handheld and living room markets early next year.
Right now, the “big game” from EA could be any franchise the company is currently brewing across its multiple development houses. Maybe Switch owners will see The Sims 4 or perhaps even Battlefield 1 or the latest Mass Effect installment. Regardless, Nintendo’s brief tease in October will be followed by a curvy full-page layout for all to behold on January 12, just days after the hectic CES 2017 convention in Las Vegas. Maybe at that time EA will fully disclose what Switch owners will have in their hands this March.