Switch It Up: 6 Ways Nintendo Can Win 2018

Nintendo Switch 2018 Predictions

There’s an electricity that surrounds the Nintendo Switch. The hybrid handheld / console released in March 2017 to incredible fan fare and praise thanks in part to Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. From there, games like Arms, Splatoon, Golf Story, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and others kept the system chugging along at breakneck speed until the kiloton explosive of amazing that was Mario Odyssey hit the scene at the end of the year.

Safe to say, 2017 was Nintendos year, hands down. And boy it felt great to *love* a Nintendo product again. That said, with 2017 officially in the books, 2018 is something of a question mark for the house Mario built. What does Nintendo need to do to continue winning against Sony and Microsoft?

Read on to find out:

1. Launch an ‘Xbox Game Pass’ type Virtual Console Service

How much a month would you pay for access to upwards of a hundred classic NES, SNES, and N64 games? 10 bucks a month? 20? 30? The fact of the matter is of all the major console developers, Nintendo’s back catalog is arguably the most notable. From Mario to Kirby to Metroid to Zelda, there are dozens of all-time classics developed by the big N – and no way to play them on the Nintendo Switch.

With the delay of an official online service and no Virtual Console in sight, perhaps the biggest question for 2018 is how, exactly, Nintendo is going to implement its massive backcatalog on the Switch. The original plan was for a 20 dollar online service to include a ‘classic games’ selection with added online play.

However, with that plan delayed until sometime this year, and the success of the SNES and NES mini – it’s likely Nintendo is re-evaluating their virtual console plan. A prevailing theory is NERD (Nintendo European Research and Development), who did the excellent emulation for both versions of the mini, are the guys in charge of the virtual console; and the delay on the VC’s debut is because they’re taking the same level of care with the emulation quality on the Switch as they did with the SNES and NES mini.

If that’s the case, great. But the question of distribution remains. If Nintendo wants to ‘win’ the battle over Xbox One backwards compatibility and PS Now, they need to deliver a platform that entices gamers. 5, 10, and 15 dollars a pop for classic games is fine, but with Xbox offering $10 a month for literally a 100+ games, many of them classics – Nintendo, like they did with the Switch in the first place, will need to modernize their model to compete.

2. Load up with (discounted) Wii U Ports.

There were a lot of great games on The Wii U – Bayonetta, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and many, many more. Unfortunately due to the Wii U’s somewhat sour reputation, a lot of these games weren’t purchased or played as much as they deserved, and should be glossed up and ported to the Switch for a discount…Which Nintendo has already started to do. They’ve announced Bayonetta 1 and 2 are coming ahead of Bayonetta 3. They’ve already brought over Pokken Tournament and Mario Kart 8.

But there’s room for more – Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Smash Brothers, and especially Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, deserve to find their way onto Nintendo’s new console. Not only would this add an onslaught of quality titles to a system that already has two all-time greats in Zelda and Mario, it’ll also allow previously underplayed games to get a chance in the sun.

Plus Donkey Kong is incredible and needs to played by everyone. Everyone!

3. Deliver Switch Pokemon This Year

Nintendo Switch Pokemon is hype as duck. PsyDuck that is – you’ll give yourself a headache from your own excitement. With a brief announcement in 2017, Nintendo and Pokemon fans knew a full-fledged Pokemon game was coming to the Nintendo Switch.

It’s okay to get giddy. I know I am. The question is “When?” will we get to play this new Pokemon game? Of all the games announced to be coming this year, so far we have Yoshi’s adorable papercraft-style side-scroller, a pretty mundane looking Kirby, and then nebulous promises of Bayonetta 3 and Metroid Prime 4.

Which…makes the release schedule feel a little light. If Nintendo can deliver on a massive, ‘real time’ Pokemon game on the Switch for 2018, it’d go a long way to solidifying the Switch’s 2017 wasn’t just a rookie fluke, but rather a sign of incredible things to come.

4. Double Down on Art Design

Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s Wolly World, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. For whatever reason, Nintendo loves to use Yoshi and Kirby to experiment in graphical and art design – to great success. Both the Kirby and Yoshi games look stunning and push the envelope in terms of what games can look like. In fact the newest Yoshi game seems to be delivering a really cool, 3D paper-craft aesthetic.

Nintendo should experiment with art design and graphical design – while encouraging other designers to do the same. The Switch is not as powerful as the PS4 or Xbox One, and will never challenge those console – or the PC – in terms of realistic graphical fidelity. But aside from Xbox’s Cuphead, Nintendo’s wiped the floor with both Sony and Microsoft when it comes to games having a great ‘look’ to them – even if it’s not particularly realistic.

Thus, Nintendo should do what it does best. Come at things from left field, and deliver visual experiences games haven’t seen, and never knew they wanted…until they did.

2. Don’t Release A Hardware Refresh

10 Million people bought a Switch in 2017, not even a year into The Switch’s lifespan. The console has some issues regarding a flimsy kick-stand and small internal storage capacity. As a result, you might think a hardware refresh would be in order.

It probably is, but Nintendo *needs* to wait to do so. Several years. Nothing leaves a sour taste in the mouth of a gamer than buying a new console, only to find a hot, new version of that console is on the way. Getting an Xbox One S only to find the Xbox One X is more powerful is a kick in the teeth.

Thus, while the console has some problems, hardware wise, Nintendo would be wise to ride out the current hardware for as long as possible – ideally dropping the price along the way – at least until The Xbox Two and PS5 are announced sometime in 2018 or 2019.

5. Support Good Third Party Developers At All Costs

A capital ‘h’ Huge part of the Switch’s success has been due to support from third parties and independent developers (who are also third parties). Games like Golf Story, SteamWorld Dig 2, SteamWorld Heist, Battle Chef Brigade, I Am Setsuna, and many, many more have provided the much-needed connective tissue between major first-party releases.

Considering Nintendo’s restrictive practices on the NES, SNES, and refusal to switch to CD / DVDs for the Gamecube and Wii – it’s a shock there are any third party devs left that actively want to work with Nintendo. Yet, they do. Square is back in a big, bad way, releasing old classics on the 3DS and Switch. Ubisoft’s seen massive success on Switch, with 20 percent of *total* Q3 sales coming from the Switch.

Nintendo cannot afford to mess this up. No strange policy choices. No limits on how many games a publisher can make, and no major changes to the eShop or how games are distributed there. Do not fix, what isn’t broke.

This is the absolute *key* to Nintendo’s success. They need 3rd parties delivering innovative and unique experiences while Nintendo is in the lab cooking up their next Zelda, Mario, or Metroid. Those parties need to feel supported and need to make sure development is worth while. 10 Million plus people own a Switch and will always be looking for games to play on it.

More people will likely own one in the future. It’s a no brainer to bring games to the console – but if Nintendo decides to charge developers more, or simply change their approval process, you could see things change rapidly.

Not that Nintendo would do that. After desperately appealing to the common denominator with the Nintendo Switch, and appealing to basically no one with the Wii U, it seems that Nintendo has their head on straight after a rocky couple of years. They have the momentum of a runaway train, and if they keep bringing the quality games and keeping consumers enthralled in their little hybrid that could, there’s no way they *don’t* win the console war this generation.

Now can we *please* get Mother 3?

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