New Nintendo hardware announcements are always some of the most exciting moments in the video game industry. Whether it’s the entire world making fun of the Wii’s name or the collective sigh of bafflement when the Wii U was announced, it’s safe to say that Nintendo always manages to catch us by surprise whenever it reveals a new system. This week, the gaming world was obsessing over the Nintendo Switch, the official name of the long-rumored, and now revealed, NX. There’s a lot to be excited about here, whether it’s the awesome idea of taking console-quality experiences on the go or the idea that Nintendo could finally right the ship after the disaster that was the Wii U. Still, as awesome as the Nintendo Switch is in practice, smart consumers should hold their breath before getting their hopes high. There are a ton of ways in which the Switch could fail to live up to expectations, and those who take a wait and see approach will be rewarded.
If you’re looking for the number one reason why you should pause before getting excited about the potential of the Switch, it’s the lineup. As of right now, we don’t technically know what the Switch’s lineup is going to look like, be it at launch in March 2017 or beyond. Sure, it’s a safe bet to assume that a 3D Mario title, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros. and other Nintendo stalwarts will make their way to the hybrid platform, but what’s to say that Nintendo’s third party fortunes aren’t going to remain the same. Yes, Skyrim was on full display during the Switch’s debut trailer, but Bethesda hasn’t yet gone on record yet about whether or not its hugely popular RPG will actually be playable on the platform. What’s more, every developer who was shown off during that flashy graphic was listed as a “partner,” which sounds like a fancy term for a developer currently messing around with the tech. Would it be all that surprising if a number of the developers on that screen didn’t actually make a game for the Switch (like Konami, for instance)?
The question on developer support for the Switch is going to largely come down with how Nintendo’s custom version of Nvidia’s Tegra chip plays with modern titles. If it becomes a major hassle for developers to port games over to the Switch, then we’re not going to see very many games towards the middle and end of its lifecycle, unless it sells like crazy. Unreal Engine 4 support is a massive step forward, and it’s perhaps the most exciting announcement to come out of the Switch news flurry. Not only will this allow for a host of AAA titles, but a fair amount of indie titles also use Unreal Engine 4 and the also-supported Unity engine.
We do know that Nintendo is likely going to be focusing all of its development effort over the next few years on the Switch, meaning that we could potentially see far more first-party entries on this system than on any modern Nintendo system. Think about it: if all of the teams working on 3DS games and Wii U games were developing for a single platform, the potential output could be massive. This is, of course, what we’re hoping for. The dream scenario would be a new 2D Mario title every year, with installments in all of the other beloved franchises to go along with a host of third party titles. Whether or not that becomes a reality is anyone’s guess at this point, but hopefully consumers will be savvy enough to let the support for the Switch build organically and restore Nintendo’s former glory.