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Thoughts on Nintendo’s Switch Announcement

Last night, Nintendo held a one-hour keynote to announce further details about the Nintendo Switch, its newest gaming console. Details had been scant since its teaser video back in October. You can watch the entire livestream of the announcement below.

Here are my thoughts on the main announcements, which included pricing (MSRP $299.99) and availability (March 3, 2017 in the US):

  • The launch lineup for this device is pretty rough. While the Zelda trailer was great, that game is also coming out on Wii U. It was also bit of a surprise that Super Mario Odyssey and Arms, which got significant airplay in the announcement, will not be launch titles.
  • Can launch title 1-2-Switch be as popular as Wii Sports in terms of getting non-traditional users into the gaming console space? Perhaps, but based on what they showed, it looked more like it should be a pack-in game and not something that you’d fork over $50 for on launch date. (And as my colleague Peter Sciretta pointed out, couldn’t this thing just easily be a free iPhone game?)
  • Many gaming outlets had run with a rumor that the Switch would be priced at $250. I have to say that the $300 price tag feels a bit steep to me for what we’re getting.
  • On that note: the pricing on the accessories is intense. $80 for two halves of a joy-con controller. $90 for a dock. These products are clearly where Nintendo expects to make a ton of margin.
  • The Switch will come with 32GB of storage and a 720p screen. Battery life will vary (dramatically) from 2 to 6.5 hours depending on the game you’re playing. That battery life number seems pretty precarious — two hours is barely enough to get out the door and through the subway. But maybe it’ll be enough for most people who are willing to bring a dedicated gaming device with them.
  • In terms of the presentation itself, it was both competent and unexpected, staid and bizarre. The interpreters varied in quality greatly (with one of them appearing to almost melt down completely) but I thought they did a good job overall. It was more about the potential of the Switch than what the product is actually launching with. My guess is that’s the right approach for the long term, but I’m not sure how much heat they’ll be getting at launch. We’ll see.

I also recorded some very rambling thoughts with a couple colleagues of mine yesterday, including Jeff Cannata from the DLC podcast. You can watch that Periscope here.