Nintendo’s new video game system, the Switch, isn’t able to browse the internet, stream music, movies, or play any media that isn’t a video game.
It’s a game console, first and foremost, despite its resemblance to tablets like the iPad that are so often used for media consumption.
That’s by design — as Nintendo of America senior public relations manager Kit Ellis told Business Insider in January:
“At launch we are really trying to be clear that this is a gaming device first, so you’re actually not gonna see a lot of that at launch. It doesn’t mean that it’s not going to come later on, but it likely won’t be there at launch.”
Still, now that the Switch is out and early adopters are putting it through its paces, there’s growing demand for streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. For instance, a top-voted Reddit thread urged Switch owners to get in contact with Netflix and demand the service on Switch:
It sounds like Nintendo has heard those demands.
In an interview with The Washington Post published Wednesday, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime directly confirms that those services are in the works. “We’re talking to a range of companies about other services, companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon — things that will come in time,” he said.
When those services are coming is another question altogether. None of them are crucial of course. Fils-Aime says as much: “In our view, these are not differentiators. What differentiates us is the way you play with the Nintendo Switch and what you can play.”
He’s not wrong in this respect.
Nintendo has always differentiated itself with the games it makes, from “Super Mario” to “Donkey Kong” and many others. The Switch continues this tradition — its marquee launch game is a fantastic new “Legend of Zelda” game that’s getting near-universal praise.
What Fils-Aime isn’t saying, however, is also apparent — Nintendo would assuredly rather you kept using its console over its competition. Part of the reason that Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 had Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other video services at launch is because Microsoft and Sony don’t want you to turn off their consoles and go elsewhere. Nintendo’s last two home consoles, the Wii and Wii U, both had streaming services.
Of course, it’s not so hard to turn off the Switch and access these services from an Apple TV, Roku, or even another game console. But wouldn’t Nintendo prefer I keep using the Switch? It sounds like the answer is yes.
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