How the Nintendo Switch Is Facing Handheld Console Gaming

The Nintendo Switch is scheduled to release next month to the entire gaming world. Many have given positive thoughts on the new console, but with positivity comes negative remarks. Many claim that Nintendo should ease up on taking these giant leaps towards change, giving examples towards the Wii U ceasing production in Japan, which draws the era to an end. The Wii U failed to convince the consumer that a home console with a secondary screen would work, almost making it worthless to buy. The Wii U sold about 14 million units since 2012, PlayStation 4 managed to do that in a year. This time around, Nintendo is once again pushing towards new horizons with the Switch, a hybrid gaming console that offers portability of AAA games.

Noble attempts have been seen by Microsoft and PlayStation to bring console handheld gaming quality to the hands of gamers. There are still many that are a fan of the PS Vita and the PSP, but those numbers are few.

During 2013, Nintendo opened a research and development facility in Kyoto, Japan to bring in both the company’s handheld and gaming development groups into one. In the past, these entities had been kept apart. While one makes improvements in the handheld area such as the 3DS, the other worked to improve the functionality of the Wii U. Now that they are together, a synergy of handheld and console gaming has combined to bring the Switch into the market. But what does it all mean to us?

What the Nintendo Switch is trying to bring to the gaming world is the ease of portability and full on gaming on the go. This falls into the hopes that if the average gamer buys the product and enjoys it, Microsoft and PlayStation will follow suit and compete for sales. Perhaps we’ll see something from each of these companies in the years to follow? We have seen attempts at these strategies by the Vita and PSP, but these are not consoles in the slightest.

The Nintendo Switch offers a modulated form of AAA games on a tablet-like system which converts to a full console when docked for TV gameplay. The marvelous feature here is, the game doesn’t change in quality, only the display size in which you are playing the game. The Switch is a right step in the design that Wii U had intended to its mass audience. A system that that involved two forms to play your game on, your television and the smaller handheld screen. The Switch is different in which the handheld part is the main console, and you’re able to take it outside of your home. Despite the three to six-hour battery life that the Switch offers outside of the home, it’s an obvious change towards a different future.

Games such as Legend of Zelda, FIFA and Skyrim will be able to be played on a full 1080p TV with high definition. When you undock the device, you can pick up where you last left off on a smaller display. Sony’s PSP and Vita attempted to bring the console experience to the handheld, but that’s not what people wanted. Keeping gaming all on one device answers this downfall that other competitors have tried to tackle in the past.

One thing that does make me skeptical of this new era of gaming is how high of a standard will the mass audience hold the Switch to. In this modern era, if a game or console isn’t able to hit 1080p 60fps, then it’s deemed obsolete. The Switch’s handheld screen features a 720p display, and I’m not surprised why people are looking down upon this spec. Smartphones today are able to run at a higher resolution on a much tinier display. 4K has been slowly creeping in on the market from the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S. Having to rely on a dock to boost resolution and performance to achieve 1080p on a big screen seems odd.

Mobile games from Nintendo have recently been changing how we look at mobile gaming in the past few years. Releases with titles such as Miitomo, Pokémon Go, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing in the near future, Nintendo is relying on these titles to erase the line between mobile and console games. In what seemed to be the 3DS’s final year, the handheld system was saved by Pokémon Go’s release. Ever since the popularity spike of Pokémon due to Go, Pokémon Sun and Moon has been Nintendo’s fastest selling titles to date. We can see how the influence of handheld gaming does to a product.

While Microsoft and PlayStation plan to wait it out, the Nintendo Switch is bravely taking the chance on mobile console gaming in the modern era. The Switch is quite an interesting piece of technology that no one has an idea how it will do. After my experience with the Nintendo Switch at PAX South earlier this year, my opinions have swayed multiple times after researching this brand new console. The line between console, mobile and handheld gaming is slowly fading together. Will Nintendo trip on its own feet or make a success out of it? We’ll have to see after the Nintendo Switch releases on March 3 of this year.

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