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.
In this series, we examine 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 marketing for the Nintendo Switch and decided that although it is good, it is not speaking to a large enough audience. This time, we will focus on the Switch’s portability and how Nintendo can capitalize on that.
As mentioned in our last article, in his review of the Nintendo Switch, Kyle Orland said “[the Switch] seems to pull portable gaming upward more than it drags home console gaming downward.” which is good news for the system. If the Nintendo Switch didn’t bring mobile gaming up, it wouldn’t have a chance of being a success and the conversation wouldn’t be around whether or not it can catch the Wii but would be centered on if it can even beat the Wii U.
Since the Game Boy Nintendo has dominated the portable gaming market. Even despite the rise of cell phones and mobile gaming the Nintendo 3DS has done well and is the best selling console currently on the market. Each of Nintendo’s portable systems has done well because they have innovated on what makes mobile gaming special. Nintendo needs to learn from each mobile system’s successes to make the Switch explode in popularity. Some of the lessons we will visit below have already been learned and applied to the Switch, others Nintendo still needs to learn and use.
The Game Boy was special because it was portable gaming. It was gaming you could take everywhere, yet this isn’t why it was such breakout success. The credit for that success is the game Tetris. The Nintendo Switch does already have a Tetris game in the delightful and colorful Puyo Puyo Tetris, but this isn’t what Nintendo needs to learn from the Game Boy. Tetris worked for the Game Boy for the same reason cell phone games work, it is a game that can be played anywhere for any length of time. The Nintendo Switch needs games that can be played quickly and briefly. Puyo Puyo Tetris does fill this role, and more games with this quick play style are necessary so that people want to use the Switch when they have 5 free minutes instead of just pulling out their cell phone.
Game Boy Color
Without color, the Nintendo Switch would never leave the shelves, but that isn’t what should be learned from the Game Boy Color. The game boy color improved on the on the go multiplayer model the Game Boy set up for it by adding infrared and a lot of games that took advantage of the system’s link cable capabilities. The Nintendo Switch has a lock on the importance of multiplayer with the ability to turn the Joy-Cons on the side for quick and easy multiplayer fun. Games made for the Switch need to make it easy to “switch” from solo play to multiplayer so that people with Switches can share their fun with the people they meet while playing the device on the go.
Game Boy Advance
Some of the greatest games on the Game Boy Advance were re-releases of games that were originally on a Nintendo home systems. And some of the other great games on the system were reboots and reskins of past Nintendo games. The Nintendo Switch needs a virtual console with an expansive library so that people can play their favorite games in new ways and in new places. The importance of the virtual console is somethings that will be further explored in a future article.
The Nintendo DS is Nintendo’s most successful system ever. You read that right, it sold better than the Wii. It enjoyed this success in part because of its timing respecting the rise of online and cell phone gaming. Because of its enormous success, there are probably plenty of things Nintendo can learn from the system to make the Switch a booming success. Here we’ll talk about just one of those things: download play. Many of the games on the Nintendo DS only required one game cartridge for multiplayer to be played by on multiple systems. The Nintendo Switch needs games with this capability so system owners can share the love and advertise the games their friends don’t have for Nintendo.
Despite what you are thinking, the 3D screen is not the innovation that made the 3DS the continuing success that it is. The Nintendo 3DS has remained relevant in the era of cell phone gaming because of StreetPass. This simple feature makes it so you can play with anyone without ever meeting them face to face. StreetPass lets your device pass information to other people’s devices while in sleep mode, and this is used to grant bonuses on your solo gaming adventures, incentivizing playing on the go. The Nintendo Switch currently does not have a StreetPass system, and it needs one. StreetPass incentives playing on the go despite online gaming being available, and the best advertisement Nintendo can have for the Switch is people playing the Switch while they are on the go.
Nintendo Cell Phone Games
One of the most successful cell phone apps ever is Pokemon GO. Part of what made the game, so insanely popular was that you saw people playing the game everywhere. Nintendo needs to create games for the Nintendo Switch that require in part or at least encourage, play out of the house. Maybe games that use the Joy-Con’s infrared reader to read things that you can’t find in the house. How fun would an Animal Crossing game be that lets you scan real-world items and structures into your village?
The truth of the matter is that most portable gaming happens at home. For the Nintendo Switch to be a mega success, Nintendo needs to get people to advertise the system for them by taking the system and the games out of the house. Perhaps just as important is the need to get those walking advertisers playing with others while out and about, both those who have a Switch of their own and those who do not.