Nintendo Missing the Message on Switch
Nintendo announced the NX back in 2015. The announcement happened amid light Wii U sales. The promise of new home hardware caused everyone to wonder what would come next. However, Nintendo said nothing regarding what the console would be. Among a clearly sinking Wii U with fewer and fewer games releasing, Nintendo painted themselves in a tricky situation. Rather than explaining anything about the Wii U, they would go on to be virtually silent for a year and a half regarding the NX. We now know that the NX is the Nintendo Switch, but how did the reveal amongst the deafening silence work out for them?
The problem with Nintendo’s approach of extreme silence is that it paved the way for rumors and leaks. Nintendo holds some of the most beloved IP in entertainment history, so it is completely obvious that millions were clamoring for some information on it. By withholding all news, rumors and leaks began to sprout. To be fair, rumors and leaks aren't new to the video game industry in any way. However, the Switch was one of the rare cases where many of the hardware leaks were spot on and clearly informed by an insider. This allowed the public to paint the Switch narrative and not Nintendo. Once it became clear that some of these rumors were true, it instilled a hope in everyone regarding each rumor that sprang up.
Nintendo Switch has a very weak software launch outside of Zelda, which is coming to the Wii U on the same date, and that problem was further exacerbated by rumors of a launch Mario game, Smash Bros port, and a pack-in game. Simply put, Nintendo had bad news to deliver. Instead of getting out in front of it, they allowed the internet to run rampant and establish an expectation for what was to come. This ultimately has hamstrung Nintendo and their ability to validate the Switch as a day one purchase. You may retort by explaining that preorders are sold through. That is swell, and I am aware because I am one of the many that purchased one. This does not change the fact that Nintendo has began the Switch train with a rough start. A weak launch and no pack-in game (i.e Nintendoland or Wii Sports) doesn't instill faith that this won't be another Wii U which was poorly supported and unattractive to third-party development.
I want Nintendo to succeed, and I want the Switch to succeed. Again, I preordered one, and I am eagerly awaiting the first week of March to get my hands on it. However, I am a rare case. A handheld-home console hybrid that is littered with JRPGs and Musou games is pretty much all I've ever wanted, so showing me an event showcasing 3 Musou games, 2 Dragon Quest games, and a wave of other RPGs is fantastic. However, these ports of old niche games have almost no mainstream appeal. Nintendo is operating with very little good will. The Switch reveal was their opportunity to turn that around, but they failed at that.
This doesn't mark the end for Nintendo, but it does put them in a position that will hopefully force their hand. We need a good weird Nintendo in the industry for their bizarre yet fantastic games and worlds.