The Nintendo Switch, however, is throwing a wrench into the works by its very nature. While it does function as a home console, its heavily advertised main gimmick is that is transforms into a mobile tablet-ish handheld to play the same games on the go. So, who exactly is it competing with now? Some may still say Sony and Microsoft, but based on what we’ve seen, I fully believe that Nintendo is going to be squaring off against the iPad.
First, let me talk about why I don’t really think that Nintendo is competing with PS4 and Xbox One anymore, and they really haven’t been for some time. I believe this is true about the PS4 Slim and Xbox One Slim, which are what most price-focused consumers will be picking up these days, but also about the upcoming PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio, the high-end, ultra-powerful variants of each system.
At this point, Nintendo consoles have become one of two things for most buyers. Either A) it’s an additional system to bolster something you already own like a gaming PC or an Xbox or PlayStation, or B) it’s your only system if you are a die-hard Nintendo fan or someone completely focused on family gaming. The Wii U failed because of this very dynamic. When it came down to a choice between a Wii U and an Xbox One or PS4, there simply wasn’t a comparison in most instances. The Wii U was a less powerful system that yes, had access to some great first party Nintendo games, but lacked almost the entire third party catalog that the other two systems (and PC) took for granted, which were dozens of the most high profile games released every single year. Because of that, you either had to be content only playing Nintendo games, or buying it as a supplementary system.
I am not convinced this narrative is going to change with the Switch. While there were a great many things to be excited about during the reveal of this console, one selling point I am hugely skeptical of is Nintendo trying to tout tremendous third-party support right out of the gate. We have to keep in mind that Nintendo also tried to play this card with the Wii and Wii U, and those systems had many brands “supporting” them initially until suddenly, they weren’t, and nearly every major multiplatform series had fled Nintendo.