Sunday, May 22nd, 2022

Is Nintendo’s Monopoly Enough to Win the Next Generation Handheld War?

Image: Nintendo

In the world of entertainment technology, everyone likes to stay ahead of themselves. About a year later, that is, until it becomes clear that the technology is not yet ready, everything is the “next big thing.” Augmented reality and virtual reality are good examples. Both are exciting technologies with great games and some major success stories, but the vast majority of gamers around the world play on flat screens with controllers (or touch screens with smartphones / tablets). doing. Over the last five years or so, the market has had great innovations and changes, but in reality, the mainstream scene is ticking with many of the same practices.

This is also evident in the discourse around Nintendo and Switch. With the advent of new hybrid / portable devices, people wonder if it disrupts the switch-driven sector of the gaming market. Still, to this day, none of them are, and it is unlikely that it will be at least next year or two β€” for some reason.

These devices are small, often untargeted to the mainstream market, and are frankly designed for niche audiences who just enjoy switching switches. This $ 1200 portable PC is a good example of a device that offers a fascinating glimpse of a fictitious switch. It’s not bound by the boring mass market practicality, such as its reasonable price and decent battery life.One of the superficially switch-like devices that goes against the trend a bit Is Valve’s Steam Deck, which seeks to offer the right price range with the appeal of playing a huge Steam library on the go.

However, there are several reasons why a deck-switch comparison isn’t right. The first is the intent for Valve’s devices. It turns out that even enthusiastic supporters of the deck aren’t aiming for mainstream influence, at least in this early form. Not only are purchases limited to Valve’s own platform, but manufacturing and logistics challenges have pushed even existing pre-order deliveries well into 2022.

For the sake of clarity, these are not criticisms, but they do evaluate what Valve is trying to achieve with Steam Deck. While wealthy companies like Epic are trying to stop Steam’s incredible digital monopoly, it’s how the business of setting up scenes, testing bodies of water, and manufacturing portable gaming hardware works. Make Steam stand out in the conversation. For Valve and its most enthusiastic supporters, Steam Deck is fascinating and exciting.

Steam deck 2
Image: Valve

However, as a suggestion, I’m not a direct challenger to Nintendo’s or Switch’s approach.For one thing, Valve clarified: There is no monopoly of any kind in the deck, “This is a PC and you have to play the game like a PC.” This isn’t a little surprising, but it’s a reminder of what this device is trying to achieve. It’s not a platform, it’s Steam. Deck is a hardware created by Valve and shows how far portable PC technology has advanced. Steam is a very popular storefront and still a major power for PC and Mac games, and as the company reveals, Deck hasn’t changed its focus.If anything, it’s probably designed to remind people that they’re sitting in a huge Humble Bundle-enhanced Steam library. Maybe … Play on the go with this bit of kit.

Nintendo’s first-party franchise is often emphasized as follows: NS It’s an important differentiator, but the power of the franchise isn’t enough … Switch hits some other important areas that are just as important as the game.

The lack of exclusivity is clearly a big difference from the usual battles of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. The technology of Switch (and all Nintendo hardware since GameCube) means that its monopoly is not a technical showcase, but their appeal is driven by other qualities. Nintendo continues to maintain premium entries for franchises such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, Metroid, and Pokemon on hardware alone. Mobile may have spin-offs and alternative games, but the famous “main” release remains console-only. These games are important in promoting the first topic. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild We did it at launch β€” and to maintain momentum as generations progressed.

Of course, Nintendo has undergone broad and consistent scrutiny as similar “hybrid” concepts and products emerge, whether it’s a full-fledged device or a grip / controller for a phone. Switch products have significant strengths that go beyond monopoly. Combined, “rivals” sporadically emerge and contribute to the market’s leading position, despite the ongoing openness of iOS and Android games that support controllers and TV play. ..

Nintendo’s first-party franchise is often emphasized as follows: NS It’s an important differentiator, but the power of franchises isn’t enough, as unsold systems like the Wii U and GameCube show. Switch applies to some other important areas that are just as important as games. Affordability and ease of use are important. Quite a few players of different types are looking for an affordable and intuitive gaming system right away. PC games may be the pinnacle in terms of graphics experience, but they aren’t. Simple or affordable.. Consoles are usually both, and in the case of Switch, it offers a hybrid setup that’s perfect for TVs and portable play, features accessible games, and technically out-of-the-box multiplayer options and controller flexibility. increase. There are various tricks, but all are wrapped in an intuitive setup that is easy to understand.

Switch family
Image: Nintendo

Availability and affordability also affect other major markets, households and families. That’s why Nintendo’s current ads revolve around young photogenic people who are motivated to make their families smile in the living room or play Switch when they go home for vacation. I have. This reflects the fact that Nintendo’s data, as well as numerical marketing, may identify these consumers as being of great value to what Switch offers. There are also systems with lots of family-friendly games, or even more colorful, “safe” and more challenging games. After all, Nintendo’s view of shooting games is, after all. Splatoon 2..

Nintendo is undoubtedly in a more challenging place for the next system in terms of “getting it right.”

And now, these are areas where the pace of “rivals” that are discussed and forgotten is far off. They are not available on the mass market and do not have an important combination of clever design, accessibility, affordability, and exclusive games.

However, it’s important to remember that Nintendo can’t afford to be overconfident or fall into the boom bust pattern that all of the “Big Three” have experienced from generation to generation. Nintendo is undoubtedly in a more challenging place for the next system in terms of “getting it right.” Nintendo, unlike past generations, cannot support poorly performing home video game consoles by selling popular portable devices. One system model is very profitable and profitable when acting like a switch, but if a single platform flops, that’s a difficult scenario.

Qualcomm Portable
Image: Qualcomm

Nintendo’s competition in hybrid spaces isn’t that threatening at the moment, but there are signs that some may be planning to make a breakthrough, even years away. Not only is Valve testing water, Qualcomm, a leading mobile chip producer, manufactures developers / concept devices. Just as Switch chose the Tegra X1 GPU, it’s likely that NVIDIA’s Shield device caught the eye of Nintendo. On top of that, there are endless rumors that companies like Apple and Microsoft are probably exploring these areas. Much of that noise seems to revolve around cloud technology. The idea is that over the next few years, increasing access to 4G and 5G will open up streaming technology to potentially billions of players.

Currently, switches are the only major product that fills a particular area of ​​the market and helps explain why it is still shifting over 20 million units annually. Still, Nintendo’s next move will not only maintain the momentum generated by Switch, but will also be important in reading trends and seeing off future rivals. So when you see the headline for a destructive hybrid device that “challenge” the switch, go beyond the exaggeration and look a few years ahead. Here you will find Nintendo’s biggest challenges.

But don’t bet on the companies that are still at the top. As history proves, Nintendo is full of surprises and nothing, if not resilient.