Experts project Nintendo will sell 40 Million units by the end of 2020. This would make it worse than the Wii in sales, but well ahead of the Wii U, which only sold 13 million units. Gamestop’s director of merchandising Eric Bright has even said, “[The Nintendo Switch] could eclipse the Wii.” after examining the system’s first couple of weeks on the market.In this series, we explore how the Switch can be a mega success comparable to or better than the Wii. Each article explores how Nintendo can compete in different spaces to help the Switch beat the Wii. In the last article, we examined the importance of a good Virtual Console on the Nintendo Switch and highlighted the power of nostalgia. We will more fully explore a topic we have touched on briefly in previous articles, peripherals for the Nintendo Switch.
The Joy-Con are awesome! From the moment they were introduced, and all of the packed in features were explained people have been raving about how awesome they are! People went crazy online with “Joy-Con Boyz” memes, as a way of expressing adoration for these HD Rumble, Gyro, Pass’n’Play, NFC, Screen Capture controllers. At their heart that is all they are, controllers. A fusion of all Nintendo controllers past, from the NES rectangle to the Wii U Gamepad. What may be even more intriguing than the Joy-Con themselves is how they interact with the console, snapping into place around the screen with the option to be used separately as well, this unique style of controller-system interaction opens the doors for more innovative controllers in the future.
Standard Controller Variations
The Joy-Con are great and very versatile. The ability to turn a pair into two separate controllers is itself pure Nintendo genius. But they are not ideal for all styles of play. For example, right now if you want a standard D-Pad for retro style gaming your only option is to buy and use the Pro controller. Nintendo should release variations of the regular Joy-Con with only a few changes. Here are a few Joy-Con variants that would be sure to be popular:
Retro Joy-Con, replace the joysticks with D-Pads for better retro gaming co-op experience;
GameCube Joy-Con, give the controller the buttons native to the controller commonly considered Nintendo’s best including analog triggers (why stop with the GameCube, these could be made for any number of past consoles);
Travel Joy-Con, replace the joysticks with sliders and add a D-Pad, these slightly smaller variations would be to minimize weight and space in a bag and would not be ideal for sharing.
There could and should be more variations than these.
Some people have complained about some of the things the Switch is lacking. Any features the Nintendo Switch apparently lacks could be added via specialty peripherals. A camera peripheral would be very useful in a variety of games and open up the Nintendo Switch to the world of augmented reality. Another piece of tech we want to see in future peripherals is GPS technology. This addition could further bridge the gap between console and mobile gaming, an idea the Nintendo Switch was built around. These two additions could open up to entirely new types of gaming. A peripheral with a data plan for online play on the go would be a game changer. Other techs could also enhance the Switch, at this point the only limit is the imagination of developers in what tech would make for a great gaming experience.
Not all peripherals should be created equal, and not all should follow the Joy-Con style and design. Game developers should be willing to build peripherals for the Nintendo Switch that match the game they are developing. Imagine if with the launch of Arms Nintendo also released boxing gloves that could connect to your device and control Ribbon Girl, or whichever character you choose. That may seem a little odd, but there are controller designs that could improve gaming. Imagine a racing game, like Mario Kart that has two half wheel controls that fit onto the Switch and, instead of requiring you to pop a standard controller into them and to reach awkwardly for the buttons, have the buttons ergonomically located on the wheel. The next generation of music games could make your controller attach to the Switch for easier play on the go. How amazing would it feel if the next great shooter that used the gyro features to aim gave you a controller where the fire button actually feels like a gun trigger, looking at you Splatoon 2.
At launch, the Nintendo Switch only came with Joy-Con in two varieties: Grey and Neon. Still, you can only buy gray, red, and blue Joy-Con. Since skins appear to damage the paint on the Joy-Con and Switch customization for Switch owners isn’t currently a viable option. Nintendo should take advantage of this situation and create colorful Joy-Con for consumers to add a little bit of personality to their consoles. They could start with just making different colored Joy-Con and eventually move on to even more fun variations. Character design Joy-Con (based off of Mario, Samus, or Pikachu) or Joy-Con with the color schemes of past systems would likely become coveted by fans and may even reach collectors status at a level similar to the beautiful Amiibo!
The Joy-Con are fantastic, and it is almost a shame that they are overshadowed by the Nintendo Switch’s unique portability. Nevertheless, the Joy-Con are truly innovative pieces of tech. Perhaps their greatest contribution is the flexibility they give developers to continually innovate and reinvent gaming. Nintendo would do well in the future to let buyers choose which Joy-Con variations and custom skins they want with their Switch, much like they let the Japanese market customize colors for initial Switch orders. Some people may even be willing to order a second Switch to get one that comes exactly how they want it!