Nintendo on quality games over powerful hardware, 4k visuals

Just a few weeks ago, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé spoke to The Verge about the Switch. The longtime executive first explained why Nintendo is not worried about 4K gaming, and then went over other topics as well.

Reggie made clear the company’s goal is to reach as many gamers as possible.

“The Nintendo mission is to reach as many consumers as possible and to have them engage and have fun with our [intellectual property]. That’s what we try and do,” he said. “So inherently, we go for a more mainstream audience. Inherently, we want our products to be affordable … easy to pick up and experience, low learning curve.”

Next, he explained the Switch price point and suggested a 4K-capable console would hurt more than help.

“That’s the way we approach it. And so, what that means is, a sweet spot of $300 for the Nintendo Switch, a platform that has Mario and Zelda and Splatoon. Going against a more limited consumer pool, a higher price point, requiring investments in other ways — 4K TVs, what have you — that is a strategy that for us, candidly, is a bit too limited.”

Nintendo is likely taking the right approach here.

Most of Nintendo’s audience is not conerned with seeing the best graphics or screen quality. Otherwise, the Switch would struggle as a console. But it has become one of the most difficult hardware to purchase.

Even before the Switch, the Wii in 2006 initially sold well against the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Yet, the Wii lacked strong spec numbers and HD support. People bought the console because it had a low-ish price, plus innovative games.

Think about the PlayStation 2 vs. the original Xbox. When it came to specs and visuals, the Xbox had no competition. Yet, PS2 won because it had a vast library of quality games. The Xbox needed a better variety of titles (more RPGs).

Any handheld examples? The Nintendo DS line defeated the more powerful Sony PSP and PS Vita because the former offered better games. Going back further, even though the old Game Boy showed green-ish black visuals, it outsold and buried the colored Sega Game Gear. That bit of gaming history alone demonstrates the power of quality games.

For the Switch, Nintendo needs to worry about games, games and perhaps online infrastructure.

The Wii lost momentum in its later years because of diminishing third-party support. Nintendo’s price advantage also took a hit as the PS3 became cheaper. One generation later, the Wii U lacked the same third-party flow of games.

In addition, Nintendo’s incompetence with online gaming is frustrating. Many online titles on the Wii did not feel like true online experiences because Nintendo restricted interaction with strangers.

Yet, the Switch presents a new opportunity for Nintendo. It started off incredible in terms of hardware sales. But some third-party companies are still hesitant to jump on board. If history has taught anything, Nintendo cannot win alone.

A second red flag seems to be the online plans for the Switch. No one wants a required smartphone app to play games online. Almost everyone believes the interface and voice chat should come through the actual console.

The current lack of a Virtual Console within the Switch is a lesser concern, but still there as well.

Will the lack of 4K cause the Switch’s downfall? No. The hardware is innovative and simply needs a vast library of quality games for support. It would be nice if Nintendo eased up on their restrictive online policies. Offering incredible games, online or not, matters more though. Assuming Nintendo can get this part right, the Switch will last a long, long time.

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