Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 18, 2017

Email: Another possible constituency for the Switch…

Tablet games.

The Switch has a touchscreen so it has the hardware necessary for many tablet games, whether or not they get ported over just depends on the developers ability to work with Switch’s architecture, and if it’s worth it to develop a port.

Kids who own a tablet may want a Switch, but kids who own a Switch may not want any other tablet. Kids only want these things for entertainment, after all. Assuming Switch will have Netflix, an internet browser, and all that usual fare, the only thing separating it from other tablets for a lot of kids will be what games they can play on it. If the Switch takes off we could very well see a lot of tablet or even mobile games get ported to it. I think it would benefit Nintendo to support getting these games if they want young kids to get a Switch.

I’m sure there’ll be some Art Academy type games and art programs available too.

Whether or not we would start to see other non-game apps get put on it, I don’t know. But it’s definitely a possibility. Nintendo has sold cookbooks on DS and 3DS, there have been multiple language learning games for both of those systems, and 3DS even has an audio guide for the Louvre. Nowadays these types of things are usually just on tablets and smartphones. I’m not sure if those types of tablet apps being ported over to (or similar new ones being made for) the Switch would feel out of place or at home on it.

It’s interesting that the Switch is literally a tablet, but nobody is really talking about how it might compete with other tablets. I’m sure Nintendo will treat it first and foremost as a games machine, which is exactly what they should do (and exactly what I want them to do, personally). But who knows what could end up being made for this system, by them or by third parties. But regardless of all that, I think the most popular and successful tablet games will eventually be ported over.

Let me sideline your email by pointing out that we have seen no gameplay with the touchscreen which is odd. Does Nintendo have an order that all Switch games be playable in both mobile and dock mode? Maybe.

But what is that touch screen going to be used for? Why have it there? We could just place Joycons on it and save an extra expense.

Nintendo has a habit of stuffing their hardware with ‘tech possibilities’ only to utilize such tech a year or two later down in the lifecycle for ‘surprise!’. This is an Iwata custom. DS only started using its wifi a year afterward (which, ironically, was also when the DS began to take off).

Nintendo likely is placing their strategy around their manufacturing. The first consumers they are targeting now are those who have money and early adopters. Guys like Malstrom want a new Bomberman, a new Street Fighter 2, and such and will pay $60 for that new Bomberman (yes, I know…, but that Bomberman is still better than all your shitty AAA games, and I’ll still be playing it twenty years from now too).

Nintendo may use the touch capacity to target non-gamers at a later date.


For newer readers who don’t know what is meant by ‘constituencies’, it is a term I stole from Hudson concerning the Turbografx 16. The Turbografx 16 wasn’t exactly a failed console because it created ‘constituencies’ that continue to exist to this day and prop the system up in cult worship. The Turbografx 16 had three of them. They are:

-Hardcore Arcade Gamers (These are shmup fans. Blazing Lazers success made Turbografx 16 THE shmup console of all time as every shmup ever made at the time was put on the console. Some games like Legendary Axe too also is greatly appealing to these gamers.)

-JRPG Fanatics (Turbografx 16, especially the CD games, created a constituency among RPG fans. Unfortunately, many of the PC-Engine RPGs are not translated, but the console does rival the SNES in its RPGs.)

-Bomberman cult (Three bomberman games came out for the Turbo [Bomberman, Bomberman ’93, Bomberman ’94] which created a sort of mini-cult around the game.]

A constituency is someone who keeps returning to the system for that type of game. For SNES, a big constituency is RPG fans as SNES has many RPGs. Platformers are also a big constituency for SNES as well as NES. Genesis had its constituencies but one of its most important was its sports fans which took them away from SNES despite NES having them.

The N64, Gamecube, Wii, and Wii U have ‘party constituencies’. They are all fantastic local multiplayer consoles, the Wii especially.

The way how a constituency is made is that a hit game appears on the console and a flood of imitators appear (because that is what the game industry does). Then those imitators sell because there is so much demand for that type of game. A good example of this would be Super Mario Brothers and the flood of platformers afterward.

I think Switch will continue Nintendo’s ‘party constituency’ and take in new ones such as their handhelds and Vita’s ‘RPG constituency’. We will see.

Malstrom said:

“Switch will become a RPG powerhouse that may surpass the DS and rival the SNES”
See what NIS SOFTWARE saying:

“As you’ve said, we are a software company that has grown together with PlayStation, and are well aware that a lot of our fans are on PlayStation platforms. So it is not as if we will stop developing games for PlayStation. Overseas, PlayStation 4 sales are incredibly strong and we will continue making games for the PlayStation 4 platform.

However, in Japan we can’t just ignore the move to portable gaming consoles. Our games are well suited for portable gaming, so when you think about it, it is important for PS4 and Nintendo Switch to balance each other out and do well. With that in mind, from here on multiplatform development for PS4 and Nintendo Switch is very much a possibility.”

(font: http://nintendoeverything.com/nippon-ichi-switch-and-ps4-multiplatform-development-very-much-a-possibility/)

Some companies that do RPG have supported Sony because it has a homemade video game and a portable video game. NIS (Disgaea), Atlus (Persona), Capcom (Monster Hunter) and others need to launch their games in a portable video game, as the Japanese consumer plays more time on laptops. Currently Sony does not have a laptop, only Nintendo, is a monopoly.

3DS + Wii U + Vita = Switch

Three platforms’ pipelines go to Switch now.

Hardcore Gamer: “Where are the third party games???” Switch isn’t taking the AAA or AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGHH Game Industry games from PS4 or Xbox One. But Switch is cannibalizing the 3DS output (obviously), Wii U output (obviously) and what will take Nintendo gamers by surprise, Vita output.

Many of the Switch’s game line up are Vita type games or games that would have gone on Vita. Switch’s Dragon Quest Heroes 1 and 2 is the Vita version. Disagea 5 is a series that has been on Vita.

Imagine if PSP and Vita weren’t around for Generation 7 and 8.  DS and 3DS would have gained so much more additional third party support. It’d be like the Gameboy and GBA days all over again!

You are right that Switch will be a monopoly as Microsoft and Sony will have no handheld competition. People point to smartphones and tables, but that type of competition are mobile PCs. They are to gaming handhelds what PCs are to home consoles.

Microsoft is arguably leaving the console market (though still putting out hardware for legacy purposes it seems).

As consumers stop using the TV, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sony leave the console market one day. Maybe Generation Thirteen? Ask me in 2041. Probably sooner.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 16, 2017

Email: Switch will take off in Japan

I’ve spent a couple of weeks in Japan some years ago. I saw Nintendo 3DS all over the place, those were everywhere. Everywhere. I saw only two PS Vita.

Japan has a good niche market for the handheld due to the constant train/subway commuting. The console mobility, added with strong JRPG titles, will mean the Switch is possibly THE winning console in Japan for this generation.

Maybe Nintendo focus on Japan on the console platform market from now on?

Switch is not just gaining the development pipelines of 3DS and Wii U (though Wii U was arguably Nintendo only). Switch will be gaining the development pipeline of Vita too. Switch is Vita 2. There will be no Sony handheld this time around. Those handheld games have to go somewhere.

Hi Master Malstrom.

We have proper account systems in Android, iOS, even on Steam, since probably more than 10 years ago.

You get a new hardware, enter your credentials, and boom: everything you purchased is displayed in your list (you just have to download again if you want).

Why Nintendo, Sony and MS are afraid of this?

I know that Google and Apple do not make their best profit from software licensing in their online stores, but again, it’s a shrinking market (game consoles), and appears they prefer to see this market dead then proper implement a real account system.

Like you, I purchased several Virtual Console games, to later realize it was dead money. So, on WiiU, I purchased ZERO games on VC (and started to purchased real old 8 and 16bit consoles).

I’m afraid Nintendo terrible online system will affect us who never use their online system. Example: on WiiU Fit, for every person who wants to play the game, you’ll go to a long, long setup process, because every person on WiiUFit requires a Nintendo account. Most of friends/family-members tried to play, just gave up. It’s a complete non sense spend 15 minutes to setup a game that you’ll play 10 minutes.

At least, I completely ignored MiiVerse. As any former gamer, I really hate the social media usage on games. Hope Nintendo get aware of this.

And, the last-but-not-the-least comment: I really laugh from the hardware email saying that Bomberman is a crap game. While I have a WiiU, my kids and I play a LOT MORE Bomberman on SNES then any other WiiU game!

I suppose it is because of the customer service required for such accounts? That is expensive.

As far as gaming goes, please understand. This is a real game.

Related image

Pictured Above: A Real Game

This is not a real game.

Image result for super bomberman r

Pictured Above: Not a Real Game

The Hardcore Gamers tell me this all the time. “That is not a REAL game!” Oh noes. Switch has no games at launch now. What we gonna do?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 16, 2017

Email: Don’t underestimate ARMS

I got to try ARMS at the Switch demo event in my country yesterday, and I’ve got to say it’s fun. It’s everything you could want from a game like Wii Boxing, and the arcade vibe is strong in this one. It reminds me of cult arcade games like Windjammers, SEGA’s Virtual On and Capcom’s Powerstone… Come to think of it kinda feels like a Capcom game or a SEGA/Dreamcast game actually, even though it’s developed by the Mario Kart 8 team. Something about the colors and the “energy” of the game I think.

For starters, on the technical side, the motion controls are even better than anything we ever got on the Wii. Unlike the WiiMotion Plus, the Joycons never need any sort of calibrating or recalibrating. Remember in Wii Sports Resort when you would gradually lose accuracy and periodically had to point the Wiimote at the screen and let it rest flat for a while? Yeah, that’s gone. The motion controls just work perfectly, all the time. Whatever movement you want to do, the game replicates as intended. They’ve become so refined that you actually control your character’s movements with motion controls only, and it feels natural. If you tilt a Joycon during an attack, the glove will change its trajectory accordingly, for instance. The only small caveat is, it takes a little bit of time to separate in your mind the motion-controlled actions from the button-based actions such as jumping and dashing, but it shouldn’t take long to get used to it. Nintendo says you can play using “regular” controls (probably for portable mode), so that should appease motion control haters anyway. The cherry on top is that the game is pretty, colorful and extremely smooth.

But is it fun, you may ask. Why yes, yes it is. It seems to have a good amount of depth beyond the surface. Between the extensive mobility the game offers – e.g. full 360° movement, dashes, evades, jumps, including a quadruple jump for one of the characters, grabs, super attacks, charged attacks, blocking, character abilities and selectable gloves with different properties – and the accuracy of the motion controls, this feels more like a bonafide fighting game where actual technique and reflexes are involved than a party game. There were only one arena and five characters in the demo, but Nintendo has already stated that there are going to be more. Here’s a video where the Nintendo Treehouse guys go into detail about the mechanics:

Granted, you’re probably right that the need for two sets of Joycons for local multiplayer is going to hamper its success. Oh well, at least there’s going to be online play to soften the blow. Like Splatoon, it’ll probably never be a true breakout hit/system seller, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it as an arcade gamer. This was the one game I took another go at at the event because I just wanted to play more of it and get into the subtleties of its gameplay. I’m not going to say “be excited for it” just yet, but you should definitely keep an eye on it.

P.S.: Tried Super Bomberman R as well. Plays like Bomberman. Not a fan of the artstyle, but it could be worse. 30fps is disappointing, but not a big deal. Plays fine with a JoyCon turned on its side – doesn’t feel as cramped as I thought it would -, and it’s gonna have 8-player multiplayer. The host couldn’t tell me any more info about the game. Bummer. But rest assured: it sure is a Bomberman game!

We went through this during the Wii. There would always be a game people would hype, sometimes Nintendo would hype it up too. Remember the Treehouse gushing over how The Wonder 101 would be Wii U’s killer app? Yeah.

Can use traditional controller saying that all the motion can be mapped to buttons? Cannot play multiplayer unless you pay $90 more for additional Joycons? I will channel the Hardcore Gamers and say for the ARMS: DOA.

It’s a cool combat system. Now put that combat system into a RPG system where you gain xp, can cast spells, where you travel a vast overworld. It would be the spiritual sequel to Zelda 2.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 15, 2017

Puyo Puyo Tetris best launch game for Switch?

Checking out the launch games more, and holy shit at Puyo Puyo Tetris. It is out in Japan for PS4 but is first being translated when it comes to Switch. At $40, this will be an absolute steal. Check out the videos below to see what I mean.

This game looks awesome. Check out the match that starts at 26:35 where he fights GreenTea.

The above is Big Bang mode. Not sure what is going on here, but it looks cool.

If you want to see some normal play, this is the Giant Bomb lets play of the japanese version. Still looks tons of fun.

This is the Switch trailer for it so I can see how it sounds in English. I was kinda like ‘ehh? Tetris is cool’ for this one, now it is my most anticipated Switch title.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 15, 2017

Email: People are sleeping on the online app

Every time I see it mentioned, people are harping on the fact that Nintendo is building a companion app for their online services. Now, we don’t know yet whether or not it’ll be mandatory (and it seems like it’d likely be not), but I don’t mind even if it was mandatory.

See, the thing is, using your console to manage a friends list, voice chat, parties, chat rooms, all of that stuff? It sucks. I don’t have an Xbox One or PS4, but I did go through some of this on the 360 with Xbox Live. It’s just not fun. Especially on a controller. Did you know the 360 had a little accessory where you could plug in a tiny little keyboard to the controller? Ha.

The fun is after you get everything setup.

Using an app to set up all of this, to add friends from message boards or real life, with the ability to type faster or copy paste information, why not? I can setup game plans, my friends will receive notifications for them, and I don’t even have to have the console on? This is perfect for online tournaments and communities.

You see, that’s the biggest problem. In order to have good time with these online services, to get the most out of them, you often needed a computer nearby anyway. Or you’d be texting everyone. Some people use Facebook Messenger for this sort of thing. With online communities and message boards where you’d prefer to not give out your real name or your phone number, it’s even more of a hassle. And then when it comes time for voice chat, there a lot of people that would just use Skype, Mumble or one of the many other free PC voice chat services and just have it nearby.

When Splatoon came out, I just downloaded the mobile Mumble app for iOS, connected to a friends’ home server, and then played with him on speaker while I had headphones in to hear the game sound.

Of course, one could say that I only did this because Nintendo didn’t have voice chat in many of its games. But I say, why not go for a brave new world? Considering the parental controls, Nintendo is going big on using your smartphone to connect with your Switch. You don’t have to have some crazy UI where the console tries to do everything and be everything. That’s what computers are for. That’s where phones are going nowadays. Let the Switch focus on being the game console. The only thing involving people that it needs to do is have voice chat. Everything else, and more, can be done with the communications device in your pocket.

So when it comes right down to it, the most exciting part of future Nintendo online features is whatever they might do with these Switch apps. The least exciting part is, of course, paying for online. The one game they announced that would be a system seller for me and is only available on Switch is Splatoon 2. If they’re smart, they’ll be building up the single player and the world they have going there. But still, a majority of the game will be spent online. In the worst case, I’ll just play it through the summer while the online is free and then head back to Overwatch on PC with Discord/Mumble. Considering they want to give out a free game every month, there’s a good chance it won’t be $5 either.

Interesting email. I’m glad you wrote in.

I’m purchasing the Switch currently as an OFFLINE console. This may be why I am curiously looking through the RPGs and local multiplayer. Nintendo’s online plans are terrifying because of previous consoles and bad communication.

And what of the Virtual Console plans? I don’t intend to buy any of the games (I learned my lesson with the Wii doing that, I only buy original cartridges now).

I do want Virtual Console releases of the following games:

Ikaruga

Radiant Silvergun

Salamander

You see where I am going with all this. Ikaruga is a Gamecube game that would be a welcome VC addition.

Hmm, maybe I should sell my copy of Fire Emblem Path of Radiance before it appears on the VC. Or maybe the price on it will go up once it appears?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 15, 2017

Email: Now that my thoughts are settled

I ended up preordering. I wasn’t overwhelmingly superhyped, but rather when I heard pre-orders were selling out I didn’t want to be caught in a hardware drought in late summer.

Heaving felt let down by the Wii U, which only saw use for Smash and Netflix, I decided to use your test of 3 games now and 3 games later before buying. Bomberman has been a hit when played on my RetroPie (along with soldier blade and devil’s crush), so that will be a day 1 retail buy along with Zelda. I’ll get Redout or Fast Racing RMX, both games launching either in the month of release or very soon after, which is close enough to count.

The 3 future games will be Mario and Sonic, then probably 1 RPG from the choices I have. Xenoblade 2 looks to be more overtly anime than X was, and typical Shonen fare at that. It will need a better soundtrack than X had. Setsuna looks bland, but the chrono trigger combo attacks sound cool. I could also see myself getting SFII. ARMS will depend on the online details. The controller issue I mentioned earlier is alleviated by knowledge that motion controls can be disabled. Buying a second set of joycons was pretty out of the picture, but I will likely get a $30 wired Hori pro controller regardless of ARMS.

When I look at what I’m getting, I see such variety! People are too focused on the first day. By the end of 2017, the Switch will already have a healthy lineup of varied titles. I will have basically one game in every genre within a year. The launch day lineup may be lacking, but this is the best year 1 lineup I’ve ever seen for a console since I started with the N64.

And as a fun fact on the N64, when I got it, I thought I would be able to play Super Mario World on it. My mother, herself a lapsed gamer of sorts, knew enough not to get me the old machine. I had to settle for Super Mario 64, and I forgot that memory of wanting SMW until I would later read your blog around ’08. That, along with seeing my mother blast through the original LoZ on the Wii VC, were large reasons for me continuing to read your blog even after you stopped (apparently) worshipping Nintendo in the middle of the Wii generation.

hahaha. From a business standpoint, how could one not worship Nintendo during the early Wii years? It was unprecedented!

It’s funny that since the mid Wii lifecycle, I’ve been down on Nintendo. It does feel good to stand up in all the rubble and begin waving the Nintendo flag again. People are shocked, of course, of the optimism. But I always saw my job here to see the future. Wii was BIG BULL that turned into a SMALL BULL. 3DS was BEAR. Wi U was BIG FAT BEAR. With Switch, I see SMALL BULL that will eventually grow into normal BULL.

In order for Wii and DS numbers to occur, we need a 2006 economy. That simply isn’t going to happen. But the Switch is perfectly positioned to take up the upcoming economic rebound.

The DS was slow to grow because it was released too early. The DS did not have the correct software and the DS hardware had a revision (DS Lite). By hitting the expanded markets, DS went *pop*. The Wii had such a strong start because the Wii had the correct software on it and the correct hardware. Wii hit the expanded markets at launch.

I think the Switch is in a better place than the DS in knowing where it wants its hardware to be and already has the expanded market software. The problem the Switch faces is that it doesn’t have that 2005/2006 economy for it to *pop*. So when the economy does rebound, I expect the Switch to sail with it.

3DS and Wii U had offensive hardware and incorrect software. Nothing about Switch is offensive to me (aside from the initial price hurdle and those terrifying online pay plans). I don’t see anything wrong with the Switch software at this point with the exception that I want MORE software (but isn’t this the case at every launch?).

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 15, 2017

Macroeconomic trends of Generation 9

Nintendo does design their game consoles based on macro-economic trends. In the past, the game console was just better ‘hardware’ that did better graphics and all. After the Gamecube, Nintendo realized it needed to change.

With the Wii and DS, Nintendo saw the macro-economic writing on the wall especially for Japan. Japan had fallen economically from the mid 1990s. The demographics of Japan is an aging population. There are less and less babies. The pipeline of children coming in was shrinking which meant Nintendo’s core market was shrinking. It was THIS that caused Nintendo to look to sell to other markets and to non-gamers. Nintendo wanted to sell to older people because Japan is filling up with older people.

Nintendo’s pattern is that first party games create an install base for the console which third party companies then come in and exploit. For those of you talking about third party game companies and Nintendo consoles, did you know that there has never been heavy third party support for a new Nintendo console? The only one I can think maybe would be the SNES and most of those games were sequels to NES known franchises (e.g. Castlevania 4, Gradius 3, Super Ghosts and Goblins, Contra 3).

It’s a mistake to compare third party output for Nintendo consoles to Microsoft and Sony because both Microsoft and Sony are closer to PCs than consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony, who are not game companies, literally design their system around whatever the third parties want and take the massive financial risk to do so. Nintendo is not willing to risk billions of dollars for third party companies. Likewise, third party companies will not risk putting so much money into an unproven system.

This is why we see the cycle of a few third party games coming out which are very tepid efforts. The third party companies know that they need their staff to know the machine, in case it takes off, and they want to keep good relations with Nintendo. And when the console takes off, then the third party companies double down and make more games for the Nintendo hardware. For what we call ‘very successful’ Nintendo consoles such as the NES, look at the launch line up. It is nearly 100% Nintendo games. Third party games didn’t really get going for the NES until 1988 and 1989, two to three years after the system had been out.

Launch line-up for Gameboy

Alleyway
Baseball
Super Mario Land
Tennis
Tetris

These are all Nintendo games. All of them.

Launch line-up for Gameboy Color

Centipede
Game & Watch Gallery 2
Pocket Bomberman
Tetris DX

Another release of Tetris, a port of Centipede, ports of ancient Game and Watch games, and some Bomberman?

Launch line-up for Gameboy-Advance

Army Men Advance
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
ChuChu Rocket!
Earthworm Jim
Fire Pro Wrestling
GT Advance Championship Racing
Iridion 3D
Konami Krazy Racers
Namco Museum
Pinobee: Wings of Adventure
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
Rayman Advance
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
Super Dodge Ball Advance
Super Mario Advance
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

We definitely do have some third party software. But most of this software are ports of older games including Nintendo’s ‘flagship launch title’.

Launch line-up for DS

Asphalt Urban GT
Feel the Magic: XY/XX
Madden NFL 2005
Metroid Prime Hunters – First Hunt (Demo)
Spider-Man 2
Super Mario 64 DS
The Urbz: Sims in the City

The Switch lifecycle is going to be unique to the Switch, but if any console trajectory matches it I think it would be the DS. Look at this pathetic launch line up for DS. There is nothing. Even the flagship Nintendo game is a port. Terrible! And yet, within a year or two, the DS would become an absolute sales juggernaut and outsell nearly every console ever made. (“Are you saying Switch is outsell everything?” No.  DS had solid launch, stagnation, slow increase, than BAM social phenomenon. Switch may not hit those heights, but I expect Switch momentum to grow after a stagnancy period.)

Going back to the Wii, while Nintendo successfully grew the install base for the DS and Wii using non-gamers, third parties didn’t exactly jump in (aside from making games for these non-gamers, the shovelware). I heard stories that if a programmer was supposed to make a Wii game, he would threaten to quit! Internally, there was much developer backlash against developing for a game console selling to non-gamers. Iwata mentioned this in one of the investor faqs.

However, non-gamers are not the only expanded market. Former gamers are another expanded market. This seems to be where Nintendo is aiming for market growth. There are more former Nintendo gamers than current Nintendo gamers (especially after the Wii U!). Majority of game developers also fall into the former Nintendo gamer camp.

Two Major Negative Trends Hitting the Game Industry

One is the economic malaise. People don’t have jobs so people don’t have money to buy games.

Another is that video games keep costing more and more to make. Games are being less and less profitable.

“So where is the flood of Switch games?” I think Nintendo’s First Party games are producing. Zelda, Mario, additions to Mario Kart, Splatoon sequel, plus whatever at E3 we haven’t seen, etc. The result of Nintendo combining their development teams is not to flood the console with software but to save it from droughts because games take too long and are too expensive to make. The positive trend of combining handheld/home console development assets counteracts the negative trend of rising development time and costs… at least for now.

Where are the analysts praising the PlayStation 4 for its ‘victory’ over the Generation 8 market? You don’t hear it because the video game market is shrinking compared to the generation prior. At first, they blamed Nintendo’s poor performance in Generation 8, but they don’t do that anymore. Microsoft looks like it is gearing up to exit the console market as we traditionally known. Future Microsoft hardware will be more like the Steam hardware in that it plays PC games that you can get from many other places. And what exactly will Sony do with the PlayStation 5 especially coming from the PS4 Pro? Game costs keep skyrocketing up.

Where will the economy be for Generation 9?

Long ago, I thought Generation 8 would be a period of stark recession (it has) and Generation 9 will be a period of war (noticing a rapid build-up between the West and Russia). Due to recent events, we can change the crystal ball prognosis for Generation 9: peace and rapid economic growth. In America, at least, corporations and investors were sitting on tons of money because of an unstable legal environment. Now, they are ready to invest. This is why the stock market has been booming lately. I do expect an American economic boom in the new few years. Whether or not that extends to other countries is unknown. I do think Mexico will enter a period of distress and revolution.

The correlation of macro-economic trends and game console sales are interesting. The Wii was designed to counter a negative macro-economic trend. It did OK in Japan. In other parts of the world such as America where the economy was good in 2006, it was sold out. The Wii stayed sold out until early 2008. 2008 was when the big recession started.

Nintendo knows that the true reason for game industry growth was due to good macro-economic trends: growing economy, population growth, and gamers having disposable income (gamers getting real jobs and spending it on games).

The Atari 2600 floundered around until Space Invaders came out for it. Atari 2600 really took off in the early 1980s which was around the time the American economy rebounded. The Gaming Crash of 1983 was when the economy was really beginning to roar. The American economy has been solidly growing through the 1980s and 1990s. The NES, SNES, Genesis, PlayStation, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance all rode this economic wave. There was a dip in the early 2000s, but the American economy came back. PS2, Xbox, Gamecube (Gamecube sold best in America), DS, and Wii all took advantage of this.

After 2008, the American economy has been a different story.

One of the reasons why I predict the Switch will have a DS style ‘later rise’ is due to expectation that the American economy will bounce back. Economic rises and declines are cyclical. You can already see the investment money roaring out there as we speak.

Let’s say the American economy begins to roar back in 2018 or 2019. The game console that will likely benefit from that macro-economic trend would be the Switch. The PS4 and Xbox One are already getting old and the idea of a game console having to use a TV will be seen as antiquated by a generation raised on tablets and smart devices. I think long term growth will be on the Switch.

Switch’s profitability

One thing I was way wrong about the Switch was thinking Nintendo would go aggressive on the price. To the contrary, Nintendo is going aggressive on the profit. Nothing about the Switch is cheap. What I mean by that is that in no part of the Switch does Nintendo seem to be cutting out the profit.

From what I can see so far, Nintendo has done an excellent job on the Switch’s game cases and cartridges. People paying $60 for these Switch games just to have them and collect them will happen. This is going to be some serious profit for some game companies. The Switch could be a very profitable haven for game companies especially indie ones who can sell their game on Switch for full price instead of download only. Many Switch users such as myself would pay to have that great indie game on a cartridge instead of a download.

As the economy comes back, I expect investment to go into Switch games especially with a Switch install base carved out. I expect PS4 and Xbox One to largely miss this investment wave due to being at the end of their life cycles.

The Switch also poses an existential threat to the PlayStation. Gamers are going to like having the choice and freedom to play their games on the TV or portable with the Switch. When the PlayStation 5 comes out and is just a larger GPU with a controller connecting to a TV, I think the market will have become adapted to the lifestyle Switch provides and many gamers will not want to be tethered to a TV. Early indications of this market behavior can be found with the excitement behind the port of Skyrim for Switch. Skyrim, already an old game, will be bought yet again because of Switch’s possibility of playing Skyrim on the go. When it comes to multi-platform releases between Switch and other consoles, I expect the Switch one to win because of the portability factor (for me, it would be the cartridge factor).

Sony has shown they cannot compete with a mobile gaming device. I do not believe Sony could make a Switch clone. As the market likes the multi-function the Switch provides as the market trends away from the central television set, what is Sony going to do?

“But Malstrom,” you say, “Nintendo doesn’t design hardware so Sony cannot copy and to hurt Sony.”

Bullshit they do.

I also have a suspicion that the Switch will become a RPG powerhouse that may surpass the DS and rival the SNES. Think about it. The initial install base of Switch will be those who bought Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You already have excitement over Skyrim, a half-decade old RPG. You have excitement over ports of other RPGs that got overlooked on other systems.

And I suspect Arcade Gaming will have a large constituency on the Switch. By Arcade Gaming, I mean games like Bomberman, Mario Kart, Street Fighter 2, etc.

Will the Joy Cons take off?

Nintendo has a habit of pumping in technology into their hardware to use it later on with second year or third year games. DS had wifi capability that was unused until Mario Kart DS came out well after a year the system had launched. I bet Nintendo has software plans for those Joy Cons.

I don’t see ‘party gaming’ taking off the the Switch. Wii wasn’t so much connected to the TV as the Wii was connected to the living room… where there was room for the party to occur. I don’t see Switch dominating the living room. Unless there is some compelling software for it (1, 2, Switch is not it), I think the Joy Cons are going to be largely ignored by consumers.

The ability to switch between portable and big TV is going to be a significant value-booster to A) RPGs (because people will want to level up their character on the go) B) local multiplayer gaming. It’s not well spoken about but the DS was the best local multiplayer experience one could have in gaming surpassing the Wii, the N64, the Gamecube, and any other system. Being able to play multiplayer console games without a TV or using multiple Switches is going to rock.

Does anyone see any other strong constituencies being born on the Switch than the two I mentioned above?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 15, 2017

Email: Yet Another Switch Reaction Email

The thing that stands out to me the most is that the system doesn’t seem to come bundled with a game. I’m surprised this isn’t a bigger point of contention for people, as the price of the Switch will actually be $360, since if you actually want to USE the thing you’ll need to buy a game in addition to the system. Has Nintendo EVER launched a system without a game included in the purchase before?

Hopefully they’ll announce a few different bundles so you can get what game you want with it. But they might charge extra for a bundle, and $300 is clearly already pushing it for a good number of people.

I won’t be buying the Switch at launch, but I never buy a console at launch anyway. For this reason I’ll be getting Zelda on Wii U. The game still looks fun to me but I don’t like anime-face Zelda and I really, really hope there’s an option for me to turn off voice acting. Nintendo doesn’t have the best track record with English voice acting, and I’m not too enthused after seeing the English dub of the Zelda trailer. I’d prefer if I can turn it off completely and just read the dialog, but if I can at least switch the dub to Japanese I’ll accept that too (I don’t speak Japanese, so for me it wouldn’t be too different from hearing the nonsense fantasy language from the past few games, haha).

Bomberman is actually the game I’m most excited for and probably the first game I’d get if I were to buy a Switch. I’m really, really happy this series has been revived. Not much else to say about it.

As for the presentation itself, I liked the showmanship. But they should have shown more of the games. They could have announced No More Heroes 3 in like two seconds, instead they had Suda51 stand on stage and blab about nothing for five minutes. Why not use that time to show the trailers for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Bomberman instead? The biggest offender with this is 1 2 Switch. They’re obviously trying to recreate Wii Sports with it, but we barely know anything about this game.

A pretty fundamental part of Wii Sports is that you could immediately understand it. We’re all already familiar with the sports games in it. 1 2 Switch is some kind of mini game collection I guess? Is it like Warioware, where a bunch of games fly at you really fast? Is it like Nintendo Land where you only have a small number of playstyles, but they’re all fleshed out a certain amount? What the hell is this game? You’re supposed to play it while looking at the person you’re playing with instead of at the tv screen, and personally I can’t decide if I think that’s weird and dumb or actually kind of neat, but I still don’t really understand how I’m supposed to play the game like that. Are the players just supposed to read instructions from the tv and then start doing stuff once a timer starts? Will a voice from the game announce what we’re supposed to be doing while we play? I’ll have to wait until there’s more information about this game, and it’s really not my kind of thing anyway, but I honestly just don’t know what this game is supposed to be. If it’s hard to explain how to play this game to people, that’s a big sign that it’ll be a dud.

I already have Mario Kart 8 so I’m good there. Something about Mario Odyssey seems weird to me, which is odd because I love 3D Mario. The hat is really stupid. It looks like a return to Mario 64’s control scheme rather than the simplified Galaxy/3DWorld stuff, and that has me hopeful, but the levels don’t interest me. Jungle world, desert world, food world, we’ve seen all that before. The only one that was new was new york which was just weird. Meh. I’ll probably pick it up at some point but right now I’m not really excited for it.

Everyone seems to hate the HD rumble but I’m actually looking forward to that, if it’s used well. I don’t care about using it for minigames or whatever, but if I’m playing Zelda and I can feel the difference between hitting a rock, a tree, an enemy with armor, and an enemy without armor, I think that’d be pretty cool. It’s a little detail but I think it would make me enjoy the game more, as silly as that might sound. But it’s definitely not worth the high price for additional controllers, and I hope they quickly start offering much cheaper controllers that come without that feature. The HD Rumble should be marketed as a luxury controller or something for immersive gaming, not the standard.

That’s about all I have to say. The other games don’t really stand out to me, but I’m glad they’re there for the people who are into them. It looks like a pretty decent launch list to me. I won’t be buying the switch right away, but I’m expecting it to build up a good library relatively quickly and I’ll probably pick it up once there’s a good sale.

Nintendo consoles not coming with a bundled game is actually the norm especially in Japan. Nintendo 64 didn’t launch with a bundled game. Gamecube didn’t launch with a bundled game. Wii only was bundled with Wii Sports outside Japan.

Nintendo definitely wants this Switch to be profitable. No matter how good the Switch sells or how bad it sells, it seems clear that the price is not going to be coming down.

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