How the Nintendo Switch Succeeds by Becoming the Underdog
The gaming industry has always been driven by console power. How has Nintendo found success by ignoring this trend?
The Nintendo Switch has become Nintendo's biggest success in years. But the trick Nintendo used to achieve this success is extremely different than other strategies gaming giants use.
Gaming giants like Microsoft and Sony (and old Nintendo, too) raced to have the most powerful console. Power was everything. The race for power began around the Nintendo 64 era. But only now with the Nintendo Switch do we realize something. You may have the most powerful console, but it will become obsolete relatively quickly. Think of it like this: it is 2013. You just bought the new "most powerful gaming console"; the PlayStation 4. But guess what? The PlayStation 4 will not be the most powerful console in five or six years. If you bought the PlayStation 4 to have the most powerful console, you'll have to get another console in five or six years. With the Nintendo Switch, it released with outdated specs, and thus began its life cycle obsolete. You didn't buy the Nintendo Switch to have the most powerful console. You bought it to have a console/handheld hybrid gaming system. In five or six years, it will still be exactly that. What I'm trying to say is, the reason to have a Nintendo Switch will not go obsolete: you will always have it to be a console/handheld hybrid.
Many say that the Wii U was a financial failure because of its marketing and lack of third party support. While both those factors contributed to the failure, the main one was power. Not that it was underpowered, but it was overpowered at the time of its release. This sounds very unlikely when talking about the Wii U, but let me explain.
When the Wii U released, it was more powerful than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. However, about a year later, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One released and were way more powerful than Nintendo's own Wii U. As a result, the Wii U became obsolete extremely fast. Since the Wii U became obsolete so soon in its life cycle, third parties stopped making games for it. The gaps between first party games were so large that there was no reason to have a Wii U in the first year or so. People then forgot about it. The key with the Switch is that it released underpowered compared to the other two major systems. Thus, Nintendo could focus on the innovation of the console to attract consumers. (It helps that the Switch has a gimmick that people actually find innovative and a need for, compared to the Wii U.) Nintendo also made sure not to repeat its mistakes with the Wii U and ensured that there was a large amount of first party support in the first year to give people reasons to make the switch to Nintendo Switch. Plus, if the Switch didn't sell as well as it is, then we would have another Wii U on our hands. With the Switch outselling the Wii U's lifetime sales in just ten months, Nintendo's hybrid is already seeing some fantastic third party support in the form of DOOM, FIFA 18, and L.A. Noire.
With the Nintendo Switch selling so well, third-parties will soon flock to the system. With each Nintendo Direct, we see new and unexpected games come to the system. I bet you never thought that DOOM and Dark Souls would make their way to the Nintendo Switch, huh? With good third-party support in the first year, I have no doubt that we will see more frequent third-party games on the Switch in the near future.
It seems that Nintendo is taking all the right steps this console generation. Let's just hope that the sales stay strong and third-party support continues to increase so that Nintendo's Switch has an amazing life cycle.