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After the unsuccessful sales of both the Nintendo Wii and Wii U, no one really expected much from the Nintendo Switch. Just like the others, people expected the Switch to flop outside of Japan. But the reality outshone the projections. Because, in actuality, the Nintendo Switch sales exploded in Japan and in the west.
But the Switch isn’t for everyone. As popular as it is, many see as it an overhyped device lacking the newest and most popular games. Customers who love the device have a problem with how Nintendo handles prominent and literally console-breaking issues. And others are perturbed by the lack of new Nintendo-specific titles this year.
This SWOT analysis of the Nintendo Switch Console highlights the qualities most customers rave about, but also the things that make them cringe (hello, cloud saves!). It also discusses the opportunities Nintendo is giving game developers and the not-so-obvious threats preventing on-the-fencers from purchasing.
Strengths: Popularity All Over The Globe
Sales speak for themselves: The Nintendo Switch is a colossal success. Sure, people expected it to be popular among people in Japan because that’s what they do: Support products created within their country, like the PlayStation 4 (PS4) and PlayStation Vita.
And yet, the popularity exploded overseas. Remember last year when everyone was trying to get their hands on The Switch? More often than not, they were met with an apologetic cashier who explained they were sold out, had been sold out for weeks, and couldn’t say when they’d be getting more. Customers were frustrated, but this became a huge strength for Nintendo.
The console became exclusive. Hard to find. Easy to seek out but impossible to nab. The tougher it was to get it, the more people wanted it. It’s like a secret: If everyone is in on it except for you, it only makes you want to know it more. Because exclusivity is a compelling marketing tactic. And it worked.
The console itself is its own strength. You can play at home or on the go. Got a long flight ahead of you? Let the Switch make it easier. Need to spice up your treadmill workouts? Grab the Switch joy cons (controllers) and play while you run.
Not to mention setting it up is simple. You can just turn it on and sit down to play in handheld mode. But if you want to play it docked (connected to the TV), just grab the dock, connect the cords from it to the TV, set the Switch into it, then turn the Switch on. The Switch is popular because you have a choice: Play in handheld mode or, if the admittedly small screen and touch controls aren’t for you, set it up to play on the TV like any other console.
Another major strength? The fact that anyone — four-year-olds to 94-year-olds — can play the Switch. That makes it powerful at family gatherings, bonding with the kids, or going head-to-head with your partner.
Weaknesses: FPS And A Cloud Save “Solution”?
Even great consoles have their downsides. And Nintendo Switch’s weaknesses aren’t anything to laugh at. In fact, most of the community is in a rage over a few of these issues. I’ll break it down simply.
Frame rates and graphics. When a game has lower frame rates, it becomes sluggish. It goes from fluid to choppy. In the worst occurrences, the game becomes unplayable. And on the Switch, some games don’t play well in handheld mode for this reason and because of graphics. A huge offender is the game Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
When played docked, it’s a beautiful adventure of art. But in handheld, it’s just a pixelated mess (in comparison). It was released in December, but even now, this issue hasn’t been fixed. And this isn’t a problem just with this game: most graphic-intensive games can’t handle handheld mode. Some customers don’t care but others refuse to buy until the problem is fixed.
Cloud saves. Say you play a game for 20 hours and then your Switch dies. You’d get a new Switch, log in, and go right back to playing. No issues. That’s what cloud saves do: They save your games off the device so if there’s ever an issue with the device itself, you won’t lose all your progress. You’ll find this feature on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam (for PC).
But Nintendo doesn’t have this feature. If your Switch is bricked (which was a huge problem earlier this year), all of your saves would be gone. Essentially, deleted, without a way to restore them. Obviously, this enrages the whole fan base. It’s one of the biggest flaws to the Switch. Nintendo is finally doing something about this, but not in the way many fans appreciate (more on that later).
Online play. Nintendo was supposed to offer this service, called Nintendo Switch Online, quite a while ago. But it was delayed. It’s a paid service where customers get many features including the ability to play games online with others, enjoy old Nintendo Entertainment System games, and finally have cloud saves!
The price is only $20 a year. This is so cheap compared to what PS4 and Xbox One charge. But people are infuriated that cloud saves, a basic steeple for consoles and PC gaming, are locked behind a paywall. It’s such a basic function for most other gaming companies that Nintendo customers are feeling insulted. Despite the outrage, many people will still toss their $20 to Nintendo for the cloud saves alone.
Opportunities: The “On The Go” Selling Advantage
Game developers are excited because the Nintendo Switch is giving them ample opportunities. As sales continue to skyrocket, more developers are teaming up with Nintendo re-release their games on the console. It allows the devs to smack a full-price sticker on games that are a few months to several years old. Consumers continue to buy, so devs continue to supply.
Nintendo profits, the game devs profit, and so do the customers! Except…not exactly (which I go into more detail below).
The other opportunity is how the Switch is used. You can play docked or undocked. When docked, game devs can focus on creating beautiful, graphically-intensive games consumers will love. Even though it might not look as good in handheld, for the most part, it’ll be OK. Customers will still buy because the handheld mode is an option.
Take Dark Souls, an excruciating older series where you’ll die over and over – and love every second of it. Even though people have played it on other consoles and PC, they’re excited to take the fun on the go. Even if the graphics are less than stellar handheld. This same principle is applicable to any game, ported or built from scratch, on the Nintendo Switch.
Threats: The Game Shop
The Switch is beloved by its community. But it isn’t the most powerful console on the market. It doesn’t have the hard drive to run the same graphically-intensive games the PS4 can. Let’s pick one game as an example: Monster Hunter World.
Customers are clawing at the screen waiting for it to arrive on the Switch. If it truly does happen, it won’t be until next year… at the least. Right now, you can play it on PS4 and it’ll be released on PC later this year. Many new titles are like this: they arrive on a different console and take forever to be released on the switch (if at all).
And then there’s the game shop itself. The Nintendo Switch has hundreds of games available to play but only a few are memorable. Everyone knows about Mario Odyssey and Breath of The Wild (Zelda). They’re the reasons people scoured the internet to buy their Switch. But this year has been a quiet one for Switch fans. Even though tiny indie games are released often, they’re more likely to be a crappy cash grab rather than a game worthy of their price.
The Switch also has an abundance of ports. People may love ports, but not the price tag. Many of these games are years old but sell full price on the Switch. Problem is, you can pick it up on any other medium for a fraction of the price.
Fans yearn for new big name games but all they get are rehashed oldies at a shiny new price. Recently, people are reporting they haven’t used their Switch in months because nothing new (or old-turned-new) is enticing enough for them to play.