It seems like Nintendo has a set agenda on what they want to do and who they want to do it to and are not concerned at all with what people on the outside looking-in think. There could be a method to this madness.
Recently there have been reports from Eurogamer that the Nintendo Switch would not only be using the Maxwell GPU architecture instead of the Pascal architecture, but be substantially less-powerful than the XBOX One and closer to the Wii U in power.
Now to people who have been paying attention to Nintendo next-gen console news this is nothing new. As early as January of this year we heard similar rumors.
Of course we had the Eurogamer report and Emily Rogers corroboration back in July of this year detailing in almost minute-detail what the Switch wound up being.
Eurogamer: Nintendo NX is a Portable Console with Detachable Controllers.
So nothing they said here was new. They are just reiterating what they have said all along. However, Nintendo fanatics and Nintendo detractors have come out of the woodwork and are raging to either damage control or doom and gloom the Nintendo Switch.
The doom and gloom people are basically saying that this is the nail-in-the-coffin for the Nintendo Switch. It won’t get ANY 3rd-party support, and the system will fail. There is no possible way it can have visuals on-par with the XBOX One and PS4. There are no plans for an external GPU or Supplemental Computing Device, and it’s a FACT that the Switch is using Maxwell GPU architecture and not Pascal architecture.
On the other hand…
The Nintendo Fanboy crowd is basically saying that the clock-speeds being low is no big deal, that the APIs will bail out the lack of power of the console, or that a 9th-generation console being vastly under-powered compared to 8th-generation consoles is no problem AT ALL. That miraculously 3rd-parties out of the goodness of their own hearts will port games to the Switch it’s whole life-cycle “just because” and the 1st-party Nintendo games will make the Switch a success.
Both of these stances are completely ridiculous, and here is why.
Let’s start with this idea of the Nintendo 1st party games being enough to get the Switch over. The Wii U for the 8th-gen has the best-selling 1st-party titles of any console. In fact, THE best-selling 1st-party game this generation is Mario Kart 8 with over 7 million. The top 18 best-selling games on the Wii U were all published by Nintendo. The Wii U has sold more 1st-party games than the PS4 and XBOX One combined. Yet……..the Wii U has only sold 13 million units…………………😐
So if Nintendo 1st-party games can sell as much as they did and that didn’t help the Wii U much at all, why would that change with the Nintendo Switch? 1st-party games will sell tremendously on the Switch no doubt, but you have just seen a clear illustration that is NOT ENOUGH. So the rebuttal to that would be, “3rd parties are high on the Switch so that means it will get 3rd-party support.” Let’s examine that.
Although Nintendo posted a huge list of developers that allegedly are on board with the Switch, only a handful actually have announced games in development for the console. Now we may hear more companies on and after the January 12th press conference because NDA’s most likely will be lifted and anyone will be able to talk about what they are doing. As of right now, there is only a smattering of 3rd-parties that have admitted games in development for the Switch. You also have to look at the motives behind 3rd-parties that are praising the Switch.
Ubisoft has made a lot of money dumping their casual-friendly shovelware games onto Nintendo consoles. With Nintendo targeting the blue-ocean again it’s not rocket-science that Ubisoft would be excited about the Switch because it is possible that another Wii-like boom ‘could’ happen if the Switch catches on the mainstream, and they want to be in on that.
Also, if the rumors are true that Ubisoft is developing Beyond Good and Evil 2 for the Switch as an exclusive, they most definitely have a vested-interest in the success of the Switch. ZombiU was the best-selling 3rd-party game on the Wii U and it didn’t do well at all on the PS4 and XB1. So even if they decided to make it a multiplat later, there is no guarantee that would help much. So the best-bet would be to aggressively support the Switch and be right there on the forefront with a major-title available.
To a lesser extent, the same applies for Square-Enix as well. Dragon Quest games have always sold best on Nintendo platforms. Portables in particular. So with the Switch being a portable-console, again, that fits their agenda perfectly.
So basically any developer that is looking to make hay with casual-type games or games that have been successful in the portable-arena are going to look at the Switch as a prime-spot for those games.
Will this be enough to SUSTAIN the Nintendo Switch long-term? In my humble opinion, no. It may help the Switch get a good kick-start, but long-term I can’t see it doing much good for Western sales. Much like the 3DS has had solid 3rd-party support from Japanese developers, I envision the Switch also following suit.
On the other side of the coin you have the fact that even in the best-possible scenario it is very highly-unlikely that the Switch could output visuals any better than the PS4 no matter what API it is using. There just isn’t enough hardware there on a mobile-device to do that. That is why there MUST be a Supplemental Computing Device or ability to plug in an external GPU via the USB type-C port on the dock and the tablet itself. It is interesting to note that the leaked drawing from the Foxconn employee detailed a “third” piece of hardware that could connect to either the dock or the tablet.
…..I’m just sayin’. You know? I guess we’ll find out on January 12th, or at least I HOPE we will find out. Now let’s say that the Switch can output visuals on-par with the PS4. Some Nintendo fans would say, “What’s wrong with that?” Well for right now and the short-term, nothing is wrong with that. However if this is ALL the Nintendo Switch is and there is no upgrade-ability at all, EVERYTHING is wrong with that. We already know that the PS4 Pro is far more powerful than any possible specs that can be produced using the Tegra architecture. While the Switch will be OpenGL, DirectX 12, and Vulkan API compatible, so will all the other consoles as well. So it is a lateral-move. Nothing is gained or lost there. Microsoft’s Project Scorpio most definitely will be more powerful than the Switch. We don’t know what CPU will be inside Scorpio, but the GPU stomps all over the Tegra architecture. Then you will eventually have the PlayStation 5 and you know Sony is not going to be out done by Microsoft.
Let’s just keep it real here folks. 3rd-parties are NOT going to be fooling around with the Switch once Scorpio and PS5 are around. They just aren’t. Even if the Switch is a smash-hit like the Wii was, it will just get shovelware and scraps just like the Wii did. It’s going to be difficult enough for developers to develop games that can run in 4K and on 1080p machines seamlessly. They aren’t going to be wasting time trying to scrunch-down games designed for 4K machines into a mobile-device that also will need similar considerations of being able to run at 1080p and then 720p with a seamless transition from dock-to-portable mode. Of course Nintendo will be able to do that smoothly because it is their hardware, but I don’t think anyone has thought about how 3rd parties are going to be able to handle that.
So there needs to be something down the line to make this thing more powerful if this is all Nintendo has. Of course, the possibility still exists that it is not the only console Nintendo has waiting. We’ll leave that for another time.
So who is Nintendo making the Switch for? I think that they are looking for a niche’ audience with this device. They know that in the worst-case scenario the 60+ million install-base of the 3DS will be a prime target for console buys. They know that if 3rd-party support does dry up again, that it won’t be like with the Wii U because you will still have all the Japanese 3rd-party support and Nintendo able to make more games because they aren’t splitting up the divisions anymore. So you got your Nintendo loyalists, the casuals, and the dedicated-portable crowd. It’s not enough to be a threat to Microsoft or Sony, but it is enough for Nintendo to be profitable with the Switch and even though I’m not interested in the device at all, I can be objective and see that there is a higher probability for it to succeed rather than fail. Don’t think it’s sweet though. The fail factor is still pretty high.