Not Quite Ready to Make the Switch

For the past two weeks, the Internet has been abuzz as more and more details about Nintendo’s next home console come out. Starting with a lackluster press conference in Japan, people were immediately expressing concerns over the lessons the company hadn’t seemed to learn from recent missteps.

With the release of more systems specs came yet another realization: SD and USB 3.0 support has to be patched in.

Now, I’m not the first to ask the question, but I am one of many wondering why Nintendo is releasing a console that they don’t seem to have completed yet. Why does the Switch have to launch in March? Why are there so many details they seem to be “working out?”

I have a theory, and that theory has a name: Zelda.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017 Trailer

Fans have been promised the next major entry to the beloved franchise would be playable on the Wii U, but as the Wii U has been dying a slow death for a few years now, it probably doesn’t make much financial sense for Nintendo to lock that game on a console that’s outlived its welcome.

Someone must have asked about putting Zelda on their next console as well then, which would have led to a big decision: do you release Breath of the Wild on Wii U and then release a “remastered” edition with the launch of the Switch? Or do you leverage the selling power of Zelda for the Switch’s launch?

The Nintendo Switch

As far as I can tell, Nintendo decided on the latter.

They couldn’t not release Breath of the Wild on the Wii U. That would have received a huge backlash and they’d have alienated their core fan base, most of whom may have bought a Wii U in anticipation of Zelda.

So they tried to align the launch of Breath of the Wild with the launch of the Switch. It seems that Zelda has been pretty much complete for a little while now, espcially after its showcase at E3 2016.

On the other hand, it seems that Switch was not ready to show at E3. In fact, Nintendo didn’t show off the console at all until January.

Now they seem to have been left with another difficult choice: do they delay Zelda again (a game promised for 2016, by the way)? Or do they move up the launch of the Switch (a console that wasn’t quite ready to be launched)?

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It seems, again, that they chose the latter, and now find them in the predicament they’re in with a very soft launch line up, little to no true third-party support (games from 3-5 years ago don’t count) and only one game to really move the console.

Hey, to their credit, it’s worked before. Launching Twilight Princess with the Wii (and simultaneously on GameCube) was a brilliant idea and pushed the hardcore Nintendo fans to jump to the next console. But the Wii was a fully developed console, and launched fully functional on day one (with a packed in game, nonetheless).

So that’s my theory. How this will all turn out for Nintendo, no one really knows, but they don’t seem to be doing themselves any favors. We’ve finally gotten to see a bit of the Switch UI and eShop and they seem to have at least fix that problem from the Wii U, but there is so much left to be seen, and news like these patches needed to enable basic functionality are right to leave some concern.

Do I have a Switch preordered? Yes. Will I keep it? I don’t know yet. I want Nintendo to succeed, but I also want to make certain I’m getting a full-fledged product, not an unproven concept.

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