Column: Nintendo Switch won’t thrive without third-party support

Nintendo cannot expect to sell a successful console solely off of first-party and minor third-party games, regardless of how good they are.
Courtesy of Bago Games Flickr

Hunter Gilbert is a freshman data journalism major at MU. He is an opinion columnist who writes about rights and tech for The Maneater.

Nintendo is an iconic company that helped make video games relevant again after the Atari 2600 and the video game crash of 1983. However, Nintendo has arguably shot itself in the foot again with the release of the Nintendo Switch.

It goes without saying that I love Nintendo. My earliest memory of playing and beating a “difficult” game was on the Gamecube: “Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.” First-party Nintendo intellectual properties such as “Mario,” “Zelda” and “Metroid” are all phenomenal franchises that have had tremendous impacts on multiple generations. But in a modern gaming environment, one in which games take far longer to make, Nintendo cannot afford to bank on selling a console driven solely by gimmicks and first-party exclusives such as “Zelda.”

The Wii was a one-trick pony, a fad that raked in ludicrous amounts of money for Nintendo. Nintendo attempted to tap this market again with the WiiU, which was Nintendo's worst-selling home console. It had plenty of fantastic games, such as “Mario Kart 8,” “Super Mario Maker” and “Super Smash Bros,” but that wasn’t enough to drive sales. Gamers want to play more than Nintendo games for the most part, so why on earth would they buy a console that doesn’t offer best-selling games such as “Call of Duty,” “Battlefield” or “Destiny?”

Third-party games drive sales. There is a reason why you may see an Xbox One bundled with “Madden” or a PlayStation 4 bundled with “Call of Duty.” Exclusive games to specific consoles are great; I enjoy ones put out by both Microsoft for the Xbox One and Sony for the PlayStation 4. Sony has released an unprecedented amount of exclusives this year. But at the end of the day, core gamers’ bread and butter are third-party titles. The PlayStation 4 didn’t surpass 53 million sales solely off exclusives like “Uncharted 4,” “Bloodborne” and “The Last of Us: Remastered.” The Xbox One didn’t reach 26 million in sales of “Halo 5,” “Forza Horizon 3” and “Gears of War 4” alone, either.

You may be thinking, “Well, why doesn’t Nintendo try to get third-party games on the Switch?” The simple answer to that is they can’t. The Nintendo Switch isn’t powerful enough to run a game like “Fallout” or “Call of Duty” like the PS4 or Xbox One. It can run “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” which is a third-party game, but it is dated since it was released in 2011. Simply put, Nintendo needed to make a more powerful console, one that can actually play major third-party titles in order to give the buyer a reason to justify buying the damn thing besides “Mario” and “Zelda” games. Obviously, hardcore Nintendo fans will buy this console regardless. The market that Nintendo should be setting their sights on is the gamers who either don’t have a PS4 or Xbox One, but at the moment the Switch lacks the software options that would interest the majority of these prospective consumers.

The Nintendo Switch shouldn’t be a toy or a console that you pull out to play only three times a year. Nintendo needs to just make normal consoles again.

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