Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 26, 2019

Email: Is the Switch disruptive?


Hello Malstrom,

I’m sure you are being initiated with e-mails and you probably can’t respond to a lot. But I wanted to run something by you. After this E3, I’ve been thinking that maybe the Switch is disruptive.

With the next console generations coming up, Microsoft and Sony have both been touting their load times. “Looks how fast this loads. Less than a second!” but in years past it was graphics, graphics, graphics. It seems like they are running out of talking points now that graphics are reaching a peak. Now the focus is “fast load times, 60 fps” ignoring that we had those things in years past. It feels like we’ve reach a head on sustaining innovations to where the leaps in performance are ancillary.

Now that graphics are “good enough” Nintendo can make a system like the Switch. I know you’ve talked about “console games” vs “handheld games” before. The former naturally has to be smaller in scope. But Switch can bring a console experience (more meaty games) to a handheld experience. Of course it’s weaker than PS4 and XBox One, and would still be weaker than Scarlet and PS5. But it’s “good enough.” It even has crappy games for crappy consumers. Indie games, which are smaller and much cheaper, flourished on Switch to where they were selling better on the Switch years after the PC release. Sony and Microsoft don’t focus on them much because they aren’t “high graphic, cinematic experiences.” They are lowly games. Switch is even cheaper than the competition and will probably be far cheaper than PS5 and Scarlett.

It’s been a while since this topic has been brought up, so maybe I’m off base here. But it seems to me the reason for the Switch’s success is it’s a disruptive product. If so, do you think Microsoft and Sony will try to pursue their own similar device?

Aside, but I like how Nintendo showed BoTW2.
Breath of the Wild – Anouma sit in front of a screen and tells you how great the game will be and his “vision”.
Breath of the Wild 2 – Cutscene from the actual game. No input from a developers

I feel like since the Nintendo President changed over that there has been far less focus on Nintendo developers as legends or gods towering over the gaming masses. Even when they do come on, it’s “Wasn’t that game cool? Well, here’s another one you might like *snaps fingers*”. We never get their “vision” and they let the game speak for itself. I’m also glad we are past the age of “skits”. Feels like Nintendo is less of an adult daycare and more of an actual company. Hopefully this will translate into good games and they don’t fall victim to the trappings of consoles like the Wii U and 3DS. Time will tell I guess.

Take care and good luck on the game

A good example of video game disruption is the Tamogotchi.


Miyamoto said, himself, that he wished he made Tamogotchi instead of Mario 64. Eventually, Miyamoto did make something similar to Tamogotchi with Nintendogs. For those who do not know, Nintendogs was the moment when DS sales began to outpace PSP sales which saved the company.

The disruptive video game product actually is this:

Nintendo’s Switch has OVERSHOT the handheld market. Switch also doesn’t have a D pad. This PlayDate DOES have a D pad, and is extremely simplified. It is viciously disruptive to Nintendo. If I were Nintendo, I’d hold an emergency board meeting about this device and other future devices that are rushing to fill the handheld vacuum that Nintendo left.

What Nintendo will likely do is release a Switch Lite version. What Nintendo SHOULD do is release a Game Boy Classic Mini. A Game Boy Classic Mini would fill in this space and destroy competitors such as PlayDate. A Switch Lite version still has all the problems of the Switch and truly connect to the ‘crappy product for crappy consumers’.

I don’t think Microsoft and Sony’s consoles are the Switch’s big problem. It is these new handhelds like PlayDate and, from the higher end, it is gaming PC laptops which are making amazing strides. I think a gaming PC laptop is Nintendo’s true ‘upper end’ competitor now.






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