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The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

Why Nintendo doesn’t iterate

The key to “Switch 2’s” success
Though+Nintendo+has+been+continually+present+in+gaming%2C+their+latest+console%2C+the+Nintendo+Switch+is+their+best-selling+mainline+home+console+to+date.+%0A
Made on Canva by Ben Schneider with permission from Nintendo
Though Nintendo has been continually present in gaming, their latest console, the Nintendo Switch is their best-selling mainline home console to date.

As the Nintendo Switch comes up on its seventh year on the market, there has been speculation within the gaming community of a possible successor in the works. 

Nintendo is unlike most companies for the fact that they rarely release true successors to their game consoles. While companies like Sony or Microsoft release iterations of their consoles that have some better specs with each model, the design and structure largely remain the same. 

With how much Nintendo is a pioneering figure in the gaming landscape, every console they release is a defining moment in gaming, and each one is its own new thing entirely. A new Nintendo console means a new era, new ways of control and completely new branding. In order to fully understand this, we need to take a look at the history of Nintendo’s consoles and successors. 

Arcade coin-ops began to fade away in the late 70s and early 80s, and demand for at-home gaming experiences was created. This paved the way for a Japanese playing card company, called Nintendo (who previously released major arcade games including Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong), to have a monopoly on the gaming industry entirely with their brand new console: the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

After a string of strongly disappointing game releases from other game companies in the early 80s, the video game market crashed, experiencing a great recession. This spurred an overall lack of trust in the industry as a whole. In many ways, Nintendo’s new console revived gaming through genuine quality in their releases. 

They capitalized on the success of the NES with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) six years later. This, for all intents and purposes, was one of the few times Nintendo put out a direct continuation for one of their consoles.  

Sure, the SNES did well critically and commercially, but they were no longer the only option for consumers. Sega’s Sonic was proving to be a worthy adversary to Nintendo’s Mario. Sony would launch the original PlayStation in 1994, selling over 100 million units. 

For the most part, Nintendo would go the next 10 years putting out great games, but their home consoles would continually be outshined. The Nintendo 64 had groundbreaking three-dimensional graphics, which changed gaming forever, yet sold a third of what Sony sold. 

The GameCube, despite making a massive graphical leap, sold even less. These were out-there systems only being sold primarily to kids and hardcore fans who appreciated Nintendo’s craftsmanship. Many look back on these consoles incredibly fondly, yet in the grand scheme of things, they were not as transcendent as they’re made out to be. 

The Wii was strange in the fact that, under the hood, it was basically a slightly souped up GameCube. Still, it was a smash hit for its easy-to-grasp motion controls and extremely broad appeal. The console’s specs may have been underwhelming, but the controls were so creative and exciting that it didn’t seem to matter. 

Nintendo obviously wanted to capitalize off the success of the Wii, yet a lot of people didn’t even know that its successor, the Wii U, was a completely new console. The marketing for this system was fumbled, to say the least. The main gimmick of this console was a large controller with a screen on it called the GamePad.

The technology was certainly there, but many people couldn’t see the real use behind this thing. It was clunky. The battery didn’t last very long, and few games actually used the second screen well, resulting in Nintendo’s worst selling mainline home console to date. 

Enter: the Switch. This is another GameCube to Wii type scenario. Take a console that didn’t sell too well and create some out-there gimmick around it. 

This time it was a console that could not only be played on the TV, but on the go as well. It was a truly novel concept, quickly becoming Nintendo’s second best-selling console ever, right behind the DS. 

With all that out of the way, the main question is: How will Nintendo succeed the Switch? 

Nintendo has a long lineage of releasing inventive new consoles, so people are wondering what’s next for the company. (Made on Canva by Ben Schneider with permission from Nintendo)

Leaks and rumors online have been saying that Nintendo will iterate on the Switch directly, in the same way the 3DS succeeded the DS and the Wii U succeeded the Wii. An issue with this is the company’s history with dropping the ball on these types of iterations.

Not to say the 3DS or Wii U are bad consoles, far from it. They often refine the ideas of their predecessors exceptionally well, yet sell significantly worse in comparison. 

The key to the “Switch 2” is going to be having enough to separate it from the original Switch, while still capturing what made it successful in the first place. There have been a number of different reports that have come out about the “Switch 2,” notably that it may have specs comparable to a PS4. 

This is a little disappointing considering the current Switch is only a bit less powerful than even that, but still these are mainly rumors and leaks so take this with a grain of salt. However, realistically speaking, Nintendo is probably going to play it safe here. 

Call it the “Switch 2” or some other distinct naming convention, so everyone knows exactly what it is, but make it worth the purchase from the consumer with new, boundary-pushing features. Nintendo gave up on competing with Microsoft or Sony on graphics a long time ago so simply making it slightly more powerful will not be enough. 

However, any way Nintendo plays this, the reality is that the “Switch 2” has no real chance to surpass the original Switch. Just by simply looking at Nintendo’s past consoles, there is a clear trend: unique and exciting ideas sell hardware. Iterations are beneficial, yes, though they will never net you the same success. 

So Nintendo, don’t make another console just to put a cool new thing on the shelf. Make something that will truly benefit the games that are played on it, because the games are what truly matter.

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About the Contributor
Ben Schneider
Ben Schneider, Section Editor of Style and Culture
In his third year as a Chatterbox staff member, Ben Schneider is excited to work as the Style and Culture Section Editor. He hopes to put out consistent and quality work about all things Style and Culture. While mainly focusing on reviews himself, Schneider hopes to broaden the variety of his pieces this year.  Schneider also plays for the WHHS tennis team and has been a part of the basketball program in the past. He hopes to attend college and have a future in journalism. He likes to spend his free time listening to music, playing basketball, and writing for Chatterbox.
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