Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 18, 2017

The probability of a Switch phenomenon?

I see many people online trying to figure out whether or not the Switch will become a ‘phenomenon’ like the DS and Wii. They keep trying to find a Wii Sports or hardware element that could do it. I’m just shaking my head at all this.

It all comes down to the games. As Nintendo used to say, “Playing is believing.” What is interesting about the Switch is that with the Great Software Reveal, it will be in our hands in six weeks. Six weeks! This is different from the ‘Great Software Reveal’ at a E3 to have the console come out in November. Switch games aren’t being defined by hype and marketing but by actual playing. And I like this a ton.

I remember back with the NES and just renting the entire game library. You’d come across a game, say, Mega Man, and go, “That game is good but something is off on it.” You are glad you rented it, but you wouldn’t buy it. Then you rent Mega Man 2 and go, “OMGWTFBBQ!!!!” You start spazzing out because the game is so incredible. Then you go buy Mega Man 2 and then pre-order Mega Man 3. This is what I did. You tell everyone about Mega Man 2. You have your friends play Mega Man 2, and they become excited. Thus, Mega Man 2 becomes a phenomenon and catapults the franchise.

I interpret the Switch launch games very differently from most gamers. They look and do not see any AAA games so they go, “No games on Switch! Console is DEAD ON ARRIVAL!” and that is that. Ironically, this is how I perceive their consoles. I just see their AAA dogshit games and go, “I do not want to play any of that, ” and do not buy the console.

One thing about gamers is that they are very funny about games they love to play. When a game comes out they resonates with gamers, the gamers will spread the word. While it may seem that there are ‘too many games on the market’, this is not looking at it from the gamer’s perspective. From the gamer’s perspective, there are ‘no games’ or ‘few games’ on the market because none of these games resonate with the gamer. It is very hard to make a game that resonates. These games then become phenomenons.

When looking at such phenomenons on non-Nintendo platforms,  I can point to Grand Theft Auto 3, Call of Duty 4, Halo, and Dark Souls for starter. Gamers loved playing these games and told other gamers which they then bought the game. The gamers’ word is better than any marketing.

What is curious about the Switch line-up to me is that aside from the ports, we haven’t really played these games. I remember the Wii launch. I would bring out Wii Sports whenever there were people around (my door became a revolving door as the entire neighborhood came by to try out Wii Sports). Alone, I’d pop in Twilight Princess. I also was playing the Virtual Console (I love original Mario Brothers). The rest of the Wii launch I didn’t care for. Excite Truck may have done it for some people, it didn’t do it for me.

When you have multiple games you love playing at the same time, this is when you get a hardware phenomenon. Iwata understood this which is why he tried releasing DS games at the same time instead of spacing them out. I’m not sure if this was the correct maneuver.

Look, very few people bought the NES at launch. Most people got into the NES years after it launched. All the great games that had earlier come out were there. So it was a multitude of gaming goodness. People said “Wow!” and went NES crazy.

What I’m trying to say is that the Switch line-up is full of games I want to play. They may not be new games. I have played Terraria and Minecraft. Still, I want to keep playing them. I want them on Switch. I’ll probably buy both on Switch. Game consoles are successful by putting out games people want to play, not games that game journalists and the game industry wishes to experience.

Thinking back to Wii launch, I liked Twilight Princess despite its bad elements and despite the Aonuma-isms. It was a solid game and gave me enough single player meat for a while. Breath of the Wild looks to either meet the job Twilight Princess did or greatly surpass it. Could Breath of the Wild be a phenomenal hit? There is probability that it may be. I hear non-Nintendo gamers talk about this game. It is on their radar.

People are missing this BoW “Wow!” possibility because they have seen many Zelda games come out with no phenomenons. Therefore, they assume, BoW “Wow!” will not be a phenomenon. But the original Zelda was a phenomenon. I’d argue Zelda 2, 3, and Link’s Awakening were as well. Ocarina of Time was most definitely a phenomenon. Could BoW “Wow!” be a phenomenon? The probability indicator is highest for this than any other Zelda game I’ve ever seen. BoW “Wow!” could pop.

While games like Super Bomberman R, Binding of Isaac, Minecraft, Terraria, Puyo Puyo Tetris, etc. are not going to take the world by storm (because they already did in an earlier incarnation), these are fun games and gamer games as opposed to game industry games.

The DS became loved because we loved playing its games. It is that simple. It is why the NES and SNES and Genesis and other consoles become loved. With this launch line up full of games I want to play (that I see many other gamers want to play), I see the Switch becoming incredibly loved. People will carry their Switch around with them like they did their DS. And the more they love it, the more they buy for it. They become fans of the console. And I think this all sets the stage up for a mass phenomenon.

I think Wii Sports has given us a false impression of how console momentum actually works. You do not start day one with mass phenomenon normally. It takes time.

I do not think even Nintendo realizes how it is when someone buys a game console after a year or two and goes backwards in the game library. The Nintendo perspective is always forward with the momentum. I think a big part of why the NES and DS phenomenons occurred was because there was a game library already waiting full of games people wanted to play. These games were not stand-outs on their own, but there were incredibly fun. Super Mario Brothers may have sold the NES, but we love playing Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong + Jr, Wrecking Crew, Excite Bike, and the games that came out before.

After one year of the Switch, if someone buys the Switch for a game or two that comes out in Year 2, they are going to be thrilled by what appeared in year one as they explore the library. Zelda BoW “Wow!”, Mario Kart 8, Super Bomberman R, the RPG ports, Splatoon 2, etc. etc. Playing all these games combined may create a very excited consumer.

One thing Nintendo knows is that you only have the first year to define the console’s reputation. After that, it is extremely hard to alter that reputation. Since mostly kid friendly games came out for Gamecube the first year, the console got stuck with a reputation of being the kiddy console despite the releases of Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime. I bet Nintendo has is being very careful, and is working with Japanese third parties, to ensure the Switch’s first year lays the framework for a positive reputation.

I expect Smash to be unveiled at Nintendo’s E3 to launch this holiday season. Smash would be a great game to push their online too and a good companion to the single player only Mario Odyssey.

A Metroid game would likely be planned for February or March in 2018 since that is considered a ‘low footprint game’.

I don’t understand why I, and some others, see something very different with Switch’s line up than they do. You see, I place ZERO VALUE on AAA games. They have value in that they are a game, and more games are better than less games. But I have no interest in Game Industry AAAAAAA games.

People say, “Nintendo’s handhelds always do great.” OK genius, tell me how many AAA games are on the handheld? None! AAA games hang out on home consoles.

How many AAA games were on Wii? Exactly.

When you go back to 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming (my favorite!), this was before the AAA games of Game Industry. Gaming was more fun back then. For sure!

I don’t understand how having AAA games on the Switch matters AT ALL. Where are the great game phenomenons for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4? I don’t see them. Maybe they haven’t arrived yet.

The point is that AAA Game Industry games do not make Nintendo platforms a success. Therefore, the lack of them cannot make the platform a failure. The observers and commentators need to use ‘different eyes’ to look at the Switch software.

Related image

Above: Complete failure! Absolutely no AAA Game Industry games!

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