New consoles are always exciting in the video game industry. When a new Nintendo console makes its debut there is always a buzz. Whether consumers observe with tentative curiosity or feverish fandom, the discussion around new Nintendo hardware is electric.
This fervent dialogue is likely due to the love most gamers have for Nintendo. Gamers owe a lot to the Japanese game making company. They were a key business in rebuilding the industry after the infamous video game crash of 1983, ostensibly rebuilding the foundation for the market we have today. Nintendo has delivered iconic IP that have a strong hold within pop culture, so much so that Universal is building a “Super Nintendo Land” at their major theme parks.
It is this nostalgia-fueled admiration for Nintendo that is their strength and their weakness. When the company makes big, bold, successful strides, they are praised. But, when Nintendo slips, they seem to fall hard: both financially and in the eyes of fans.
Being so entwined to the video game industry and media, along with an active presence on Twitter, I am disheartened that most of the fallout after the live Switch press event has been resoundingly negative. The echo chamber I willingly lock myself into cries out that Nintendo has tripped once again at the starting line and is already struggling to catch up.
I see how this negative response is justifiable. Nintendo did not knock it out the park Thursday night. The Switch was presented in broad strokes. When it come to the hardware itself, it is sleek and appealing. With the launch seven weeks away, the apparent lack of games shown has sounded the alarm for gamers. Bundled with odd decisions and gaps in information, the event may have begged more questions than it answered.
What I struggle with, both as a Nintendo fan and commentator in the industry, is how overwhelmingly loud the negativity is and finding my place within the conversation. My Twitter feed, key journalist and personalities I follow, and the wide array of people similar to myself cry out doom and gloom for Nintendo. It’s like watching a key pillar erode away before my eyes and I cannot do anything to save it.
I want to believe this negativity is a cry of desperation. To some, it may seem like Nintendo is the prodigal son, wandering far off in a land over casual gamers, motion controls, and no support. Reading between the lines of the dissenting tweets, I see “Why won’t they come back? I want my Nintendo back.”
Therein lies the heart of the matter. There is a sense of ownership and maybe more accurately, a sense of family. A desperation for success so others see Nintendo the way fans see them. They know what a thriving Nintendo can do. So when Nintendo misses a step, the reaction is amplified because of the impact it may have on other people’s perception of the company and, ultimately, the company’s fate.
I do not speak for everyone, obviously. I don’t want to pretend to either. Maybe this entire analysis is something my brain cooked up to defend Nintendo. People noticed the flaws in the press conference and, to some, those issues are more severe than others. I don’t want to sweep legitimate concerns under the rug.
The Switch is in an interesting position: One I believe Nintendo can make positive. The hardware, as I said before, is looking to be sleek. It’s some of the finest looking first generation hardware I have seen come out of Nintendo in a while. The launch lineup is divisive, as I have alluded to. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will be fantastic, though not strong enough to carry the system into summer.
More than anything, I want everyone to be happy. An impossible request, I know, but I want both fans and Nintendo to thrive. It breaks my heart to see Nintendo be dismissed so early on.
For more detailed thoughts on the Switch itself, keep your eyes peeled on the blog or my Twitter feed at @MaxTheWhite for a full blog post. I also want to write about my personal views on the Switch itself, affording one, and why I decided to be there on launch day in another post as well. Let me know how you feel about the Switch in the comments below or by tweeting at me.