Nintendo has been heavily under the microscope since hosting the Nintendo Switch Presentation in Tokyo last week. We here at Level Down Games watched the conference live as it happened, and truth be told, we enjoyed what was shown and are more excited than ever for the Nintendo Switch. But, we also understand where a lot of the criticism is coming from, and some of the complaints that gamers have with the new hybrid console.
This article is not going to dive in to those issues, as others have already covered it enough and there really isn’t much else left to be said about the current circumstances at this point in time. Instead, we’re going to explore an idea here that the Nintendo Switch is more or less going to be a more popular and more successful version of the PlayStation Vita. It remains to be seen how the Switch is going to sell in Japan, North America, and Europe, but if pre-order numbers are anything to go off of, it certainly seems as if the Switch is going to be popular, at least at first during the initial shipment of consoles. Nintendo has stated that they plan to ship around two million for the initial Switch allotment in March, which would certainly kick things off on a positive note if they do indeed all sell out.
Unfortunately for Sony and for fans on Vita Island (and if you don’t currently have a Vita, check out the Vita Relocation Program that Kinda Funny has been working on), it’s a handheld that is struggling to hold on, even after providing fans with countless hours of enjoyment with titles that wouldn’t have been able to be released on any other handheld device. It’s only a matter of time before games stop being released for the system, and it rides out into the sunset one last time. Once the Switch is on the market, I truly don’t think there’s any hope at all that the Vita survives another full calendar year.
So why would the Nintendo Switch, a home console and handheld hybrid, be similar to the PlayStation Vita? After all, it connects to the TV and offers graphical and gameplay improvements when docked and in TV mode than it does when being used as a handheld. Remember the Vita TV? No? I’m not surprised. That little device allowed fans to enjoy quite a few of the games released on the Vita on the TV. Sure, it didn’t offer a bump in performance or anything like that, but it still allowed for games like Persona 4 Golden to be played on the big screen.
If the Switch truly takes off like pre-order numbers are suggesting, especially over in Japan, we will start to see a migration of all third-party Japanese developers as they move on from the Vita (and the 3DS, sooner rather than later) to the Switch. Western third-party developers may not be as eager to jump on board until there is an install base for the system that meets their expectations, but companies like NIS and Idea Factory are almost certainly keeping a close eye on what happens here. In the same regard, NIS America, Idea Factory International, Aksys Games, Acttil, and others that localize games for the western audience are also going to be monitoring the sales of the Switch, as it is the next logical console to start releasing and localizing games for.
The Vita and 3DS both had extensive libraries for fans of specific genres to enjoy. Imagine a world in which those libraries were combined into one handheld. A world in which those games could be played on the go and at home. A world in which the Nintendo Switch is the go-to system for not only fans of Nintendo IP’s, but for all major and minor third-party Japanese developers. It certainly could happen, and we’d be surprised if the Switch doesn’t outright replace both the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS within twelve to eighteen months of being on the market.
I loved my PlayStation Vita, and personally, I’m all for the Nintendo Switch capturing that audience and expanding on it. I don’t want Nintendo as a company to go up against Sony and Microsoft in terms of raw power and traditional gaming. I like Nintendo where they are at, in a position to be the primary gaming company for diehard fans and those that just don’t have a lot of time on their hands, and as a complimentary console to the hardcore gamer that already owns a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One.
Staying true to that mentality, as well as continuing to release games on mobile devices, is what’s going to keep Nintendo around for years and years to come. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.