Over and over, the same questions for months now: “Should I buy Nintendo’s new console, the Switch? Is it any good? What’s the deal?”
I expect these questions.
I’ve been writing about video games and technology for the past eight years. I’ve been doing this for long enough that my friends, family, and colleagues come to me with these questions ahead of major purchasing decisions. As such, I take answering this stuff pretty seriously. These are my people! And we’re talking about hundreds of dollars here.
That said, I’ve played the Nintendo Switch. I’ve been writing about it for months now. I have answers.
This is how I’ve been answering the question “Should I buy the Nintendo Switch?” when friends, family, and colleagues ask: “If you’re ok spending a lot of money to play a single game, go for it. Otherwise, wait until at least the holiday season.”
That’s because the Nintendo Switch — Nintendo’s new console that launches on March 3 for $469.95 — is extremely light on launch games.
The gorgeous “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” (above) is the marquee launch title on the Switch. It’s the only major game launching with the console on March 3, the only game you’ll “need” to play for many months. No equivocations, no caveats — the games lineup for the Switch is remarkably light.
Things improve as the year goes on:
- An updated “Mario Kart 8” arrives in April.
- A new “Splatoon” game is planned for the summer.
- A new, 3D “Super Mario” game is planned for “holiday 2017.”
That’s pretty much it (at least so far).
No major third-party games — like the new “Mass Effect,” for instance — are heading to the Switch. The console itself doesn’t do anything that other, less expensive game consoles can’t do. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 cost less, are more powerful, and have massive libraries of excellent games. Aside from the Switch’s main gimmick — turning into a portable console — and Nintendo’s first-party game lineup, there’s no standout sell point for the Switch.
It is, in essence, a very expensive “Zelda” machine.
That may be enough to sell the most hardcore “Legend of Zelda” fans, but it’s far from mainstream appeal. The question quickly becomes, “Do I want to pay nearly $500 to play a single game?”
The answer for me — and many others I’d bet — is no, no I do not.
I’ve been playing “Legend of Zelda” games my whole life, starting with the very first on the original NES. I consider “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” to be one of the best video games ever made. To say I’m a big fan of the “Legend of Zelda” series is a dramatic understatement of reality.
So if I’m not sold here, who is?
Maybe you! Listen, if you’re looking at the Switch as an investment in a console that will pay off over time, by all means drop the $469.95 on March 3, another $60 on the new “Zelda,” and have a blast. I get it. But also, maybe wait. Hear me out!
As of right now, in early February, we know very little about the future of the Switch.
Perhaps Nintendo will have an incredibly robust program for its “Virtual Console” — the online service where Nintendo sells digital versions of old games from previous Nintendo consoles. A subscription service that enabled access to a huge library of classics would be a major sell point! As of now, we have no idea — Nintendo’s said that the service will exist on the Switch, but nothing else.
And hey, it’s fun being an early adopter — I get it. When everyone else is scrambling to get a Nintendo Switch next holiday so they can play that hot new Mario game, you’ll be sitting pretty.
But there are huge benefits to waiting. Not only will you know much more about the product you’re buying, but it’s entirely possible that the prices will drop. The console’s unlikely to drop dramatically in price before the holiday season, but it is possible; additionally, that new “Zelda” (and others) will assuredly drop in price.
In so many words, there are only benefits to waiting — and few benefits to buying the Switch when it launches in March.
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