- The Nintendo Switch is now 2 years old and has secured a comfortable foothold in the competitive video game console market.
- Nintendo’s hybrid console can be used as a handheld gaming system and connects to the TV using a dock.
- With more than 30 million units sold, the Switch has already doubled the sales of its predecessor, the Nintendo Wii U.
Last month marked the second anniversary of the Nintendo Switch, a hybrid video game system that functions as both a home console and a portable handheld.
With more than 30 million consoles sold worldwide, the Switch has helped Nintendo regain a significant foothold in the current generation of video games.
There’s no question that the Switch’s first two years have been a success, and there’s every indication that the console will continue to grow in popularity. Last year, Nintendo led all video game publishers in software sales for the first time since 2009.
So far, the Switch has been the best-selling console of 2019, too. Amid declining hardware sales for other video game companies, Nintendo is posting its best console sales numbers since 2011, according to the NPD Group.
US NPD HW – Nintendo generated its highest February month hardware dollar sales since February 2011. The company also reached the highest year-to-date dollar sales for Nintendo produced hardware since 2011.
— Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) March 19, 2019
Now that the Switch has celebrated its second birthday, here’s why the console has been such a smash hit.
The Switch was the follow-up to the Wii U, one of Nintendo’s most disappointing consoles.
After the disappointing launch of Nintendo’s previous console, the Wii U, the Switch offered the company a chance at redemption. Nintendo struggled to differentiate the Wii U from the Wii, and its main selling-point, a GamePad with a separate screen, was not fully portable.
While the awkward GamePad tablet was one of the most maligned features of the Wii U, Nintendo chose to lean further into the tablet concept with the design of the Switch. Nintendo developers carried the basic idea of the Wii U one step further and made the Switch a true hybrid console.
Nintendo’s decision to make the Switch a hybrid console has paid off.
The steady growth of the Switch certainly validates Nintendo’s decision to go with a portable hybrid, rather than a standard media center console like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The hybrid features are more than a gimmick; the portable nature of the Switch makes it ideal for children, and using the dock to connect the Switch to the TV is a simple process for kids and adults alike. Time and word of mouth has helped ease the initial scepticism the Switch faced upon release, and people continue to adopt the new console at a rapid pace.
The Switch isn’t loaded with all of the entertainment features that can make the Xbox and Ps4 centerpieces in a home theatre setup. Instead, Nintendo’s console is focused on making it easier to play games and share them with others.
The Switch hardware isn’t quite as strong as the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 at their peak, but it can handle most games just fine.
While the Switch’s hybrid features are innovative, the console’s overall specs aren’t anything too special. The portable display is a 6.2-inch LCD touchscreen with 720p resolution. The console can output up to 1080p with 60 frames per second when docked in TV mode, but games are frequently capped at 30 frames per second in portable mode.
Despite being the newest console among the bunch, the Switch is less powerful than the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. It can still handle most new games just fine, and hardcore gamers looking for the absolute best experience probably already own another console or a gaming PC. Based on data collected by the NPD Group, more than 50% of Switch U.S. owners also own a PS4, and more than 40% also own an Xbox One.
There are some features that do feel absent with the Switch, including the lack of an ethernet port for wired internet with the Switch dock, and the decision not to support Bluetooth headphones
The detachable Switch Joy-Cons are a bonus for players who want to share the fun with a friend.
The Switch makes use of dynamic new controllers called Joy-Cons. Every Switch comes with left and right Joy-Cons attached to the console; players can slide them off and use them as two separate wireless controllers. That means that Switch owners can always use their spare Joy-Con to play with a friend when they’re on the go.
Each Joy-Con can be used as a separate controller and supports motion controls.
They may be a bit small, but the Joy-Cons are incredibly versatile. They each have their own motion controls and can be held vertically or horizontally. While motion controls haven’t always been my favourite gaming feature, the Joy-Cons don’t require any sensors and are light enough to wave around without feeling like a burden.
Other controller options include Nintendo’s own Switch Pro Controller and other third-party devices.
Nintendo sells a standalone Switch Pro controller for people who want a more standard controller. There are also a few Joy-Con variations out there, including the Poké Ball Plus controller released with “Pokémon Let’s Go! Pikachu and Eeeve.”
The Switch allows a wide variety of third party controllers too, including ones that were designed for use with Nintendo’s previous console, the Wii U.
Nintendo’s home-grown games are still the best reason to buy a Switch.
Of course, games are the most important factor for any video game console. Nintendo’s first-party franchises are still some of the most popular games on the planet; six of the top 20 best-selling video games in 2018 were Nintendo titles.
“Super Mario Odyssey” and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” both of which were released in 2017, are already considered modern classics on the Switch. This year, Nintendo plans to release a new generation of Pokémon games on the Switch, along with “Super Mario Maker 2,” which allows players to create their own levels, and “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening,” a remake of the Game Boy classic.
The Nintendo Switch eShop has hundreds of games ready for download, and adds new titles every week.
More than a thousand games are available in the Nintendo Switch eShop, and that number continues to grow on a weekly basis. While Nintendo’s earlier consoles struggled to attract popular games from third-party publishers, the Switch has gotten plenty of attention for its portable design.
The Switch also uses more traditional hardware than the Wii or Wii U, which makes it easier for smaller companies to bring their games directly to the Switch. Nintendo has partnered with a number of indie developers to create Switch-exclusive ports as well.
Switch game cards aren’t too hard to keep track of, but I prefer purchasing digital games from the eShop for easy access. The Switch only has 32GB of onboard storage, but you can easily expand by 256GB or more with a $US20 micro SD card. This will probably be a necessity if you plan on building a large library of games, since a single game can take up 16GB or more.
Last year, Nintendo introduced the Switch Online subscription, which also nets you some classic NES games.
Last year, Nintendo launched Nintendo Switch Online, its first paid service for online play. A handful of Switch games like “Fortnite” can be played online for free, but popular games like “Splatoon 2,” “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
Subscriptions start at $US20 per year, though up to eight Switch owners can share a single family account for $US35 per year. Nintendo Switch Online subscribers also gain access to a collection of classic NEC games, which is probably the biggest perk of having the subscription.
Unfortunately, if you want to talk with other players when playing online, you’ll have to use the Nintendo Switch Online companion app. Players can use the app to voice or text chat with people on their Switch friends list, and certain games have app-specific features.
Nintendo’s upcoming Labo VR Kits are a new area of innovation for the Switch.
Nintendo is committed to building an interactive experience with the Switch as well. Last year, the company released Labo, a kit of cardboard toys that let players enjoy a variety of motion-controlled mini games. Next month, Nintendo will release Labo VR kits that turn the Switch into a cardboard VR headset with a collection of interactive games.
After a successful launch, the Switch has helped Nintendo regain its foothold in the competitive video game market.
The success of the Switch has helped Nintendo wash away the failure of its previous console, the Wii U. In its first two years, the Switch has already sold more than the Wii U did during its five-year lifespan.
With the strength of Nintendo’s iconic franchises and a growing player base to court third-party developers, the Switch has a bright future ahead. As companies like Microsoft and Google look to a future without video game consoles, Nintendo has proven that there are still new ways to create innovative gaming hardware.
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