Time named the top ten gadgets of 2017. In the first place was a new gaming console from Nintendo, eclipsed the latest Xbox and PS4, and even ahead of the “revolutionary” iPhone X. For sales of the Switch, which already beats alternatives from Sony and Microsoft for a month, nobody expected such results, even Nintendo. The previous company console with a similar concept, the Wii U, failed. It was hard to imagine that in our world full of smartphones and tablets, the ability of the console to switch to manual mode will become something tempting.
Nevertheless, Switch was a success, and so much so that the company in a hurry to order the production of new units. After super-successful sales, Nintendo is now Japan’s richest company, with $ 9 billion in reserves. Of the gaming firms in the competition - only Sony, which in Japan is the fourth. Some experts even expect that Nintendo will soon capture 40% of the video game market, especially if the Pokemon RPG can be released in 2018. We at Pochtoy decided to try to find an answer to why this happened.
Released in 2012, the Nintendo Wii U, the successor to the relatively successful Nintendo Wii, was a complete failure. Weak marketing, outdated technology, unclear (at least for users) concept. Many looked at the first sales of the Switch, afraid to see the same picture: reviews with negative notes and "happy" users who do not understand how they benefit from their new console.
Worldwide sales of the Nintendo Switch started on March 3, 2017, and almost immediately it became clear that there would be no failure. Great reviews on Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the noise around the fact that this is “possibly the game of the year!” Immediately provided the console with the interest of the general public. Having such an exclusive title in your pocket is a huge advantage. But one game, even so cool, cannot take out the entire set-top box at the price of three hundred dollars - after all, in a few tens or hundreds of hours it will bother you, and the money will be wasted. Switch had 20 games at once from the first day of sales! Let not such a caliber as "Zelda", but with a sufficiently general playtime, so that the purchase of a whole console could be justified. A good schedule was made by the ChildofValhalla user on the Nintendo subreddit - the company's consoles and games for them, available from day 1:
Sufficient users interest in new console features, a good advertising campaign (especially in the USA) and interesting exclusive games gave an initial result. Old school gamers simply had to try Legend of Zelda, and their positive feedback interested the original public. Plus, the game turned out to be a great gift for those who are fond of traditional consoles, and "from the hand" is also not against playing.
For the first 3 days of sales in Britain, according to Industry.biz, sold around 80,000 new consoles. Just for perspective, this is two times more than that of the Wii U for the same period in 2012. The result is not crazy (3DS had 110 thousand, PS4 - 220 thousand), but quite worthy. In Japan, the new Switch was a bomb: 330 thousand in the first three days! There were no exact numbers for the United States, but the Nintendo bosses there said that they had exceeded expectations, and the console had to be reordered in a matter of urgency.
And then came the long-awaited Mario Kart 8: Deluxe and Splatoon 2, which also deserved very positive feedback, and further spun up the flywheel. The massive interest in Switch caused a shortage of stocks in warehouses in the States, Europe and Japan, and Nintendo did not have time to release the system at such a speed with which people bought them. The main offline seller Switch in the United States, the GameStop network, said in March that the new console had the most successful launch of all time among Nintendo consoles. For the first 10 months of sales, Switch purchases are expected to exceed Wii's for all of its existence by 20%. Neither industry experts, nor the players, nor Nintendo itself expected this.
The first pancake from Nintendo came out lumpy. After the launch of the Wii U, the company experienced serious financial problems, especially in 2014, when it could not sell off already released devices. Therefore, the first task of the team working on Switch was to look at the most common user complaints, find out the reasons for the poor perception of their gaming console and ensure the absence of such problems in the next generation device. The main thing the team focused on in 2015 was the reduction in system load time - and the ease of switching the device from home console mode to tablet mode, which could be played with while holding it.
“If you wanted to play Wii U, simply loading the menu, before the gameplay began, took so long that it was starting to put you out of yourself,” says Reggie Fees-Eme, head of Nintendo in America. - “Many users have shared their discontent, and this has seriously damaged the sales of the device. Now we understand that for a switching console, this is one of the most important indicators in the eyes of new customers. ”
Switch turned out to make awesome fast. Even if you start the system completely from scratch, the whole procedure takes less than ten seconds. The console is not as strong as the main rivals, PS4 and Xbox One, but using it, as noted by the owners of several consoles, is much more convenient. When you realize that Switch will boot much faster and immediately turn on the game for you, there are reasons to turn it on, and not on the next PlayStation. The "sleep mode" works the same way. Instead of completely turning off the console, you can click on the button, and its screen turns off, and it will consume a minimum of energy. When you press it again, the console turns on - exactly at the place in the game where you left off. The speed is about the same as that of the iPad or the MacBook in sleep mode, that is, a fraction of a second. Competitors are not able to offer this; the firms that produced them did not have failures, forcing them to rethink their approach.
Another lesson that Nintendo has learned from the Wii U situation is the release of video games for the platform. During launch, there were plenty of them, and there were some very decent ones, but after that - everything. New games were not released often enough, people had no reason to think about the console, and those who did not buy it in the first months, the farther they were, the more convinced they were that their decision was correct. "Reginator" Fiss-Aime says:
We thought to entice users, we launched a maximum of new games right from the start, and that was a mistake. The first buyers saw an excess of games, they did not know what to choose. And then the flow decreased, and in contrast, people had the impression that the prefix was not very “alive”. With Switch, we acted very specifically. First, we deliberately released it with one juggernaut, “The Legend of Zelda”, which will always be available only here, on Switch and Wii U, and people know it. In April, Mario Card 8 Deluxe went, thanks to which we again had a peak in sales. And then we began to quickly expand the list. Now we have more than five hundred games, and in the plans for further growth. Even the most evil critics will not turn their tongues to say that the platform feels bad, and new users always have a reason to buy a Switch right now - before a new release.
Now there are two titles at the console, which many journalists called “games of the year” on the day of their release. This is a Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a wonderful soulful RPG, every mention of which makes Nintendo's shares soar. And Super Mario Odyssey is a platformer, which is called the best in the last ten years, creative and polished to a shine. And, of course, also available only on the Switch, because Nintendo itself is developing it. ARMS and Splatoon 2 also received good reviews, although they are clearly far from the “games of the decade”.
In a rush, other video game developers who initially did not expect Switch to succeed switch to the new platform. Among them are Bethesda, Square Enix, Konami, EA and Capcom. They all believed that the console would fail. Or, at least, will be much less popular than it turned out. Now they are trying to catch up by releasing their most popular games on Switch in 2018, and already announcing the development of new titles in collaboration with Nintendo.
Characterized by the story of the head of The Pokemon Company, developing all the games "Pokemon", Tsunekazu Ishihara. He met with Nintendo management to express his feelings about the future of the new system. Ishihara talks about this in his Bloomberg interview:
I told Nintendo that Switch would fail, because no one would want to carry around a game console in the age of tablets and smartphones. Obviously, I was wrong. I didn’t believe in the gaming public enough. Since then, I realized that a thing of absolute quality will find its audience. When you have an exclusive software of such level as Legend of Zelda, people will follow you wherever you go.
Now The Pokemon Company is developing a new Pokemon RPG for the console, although the details of the project are kept secret.
And, of course, there is a technical aspect that is less discussed, but which is no less important. Namely - Switch availability for third-party game developers, not just for Nintendo. Wii U, unfortunately, during the release did not support either Unity or the latest version of Unreal. The two most popular engines in the industry! Switch has no such problem. It is much easier to adapt the game to it. In addition to Unreal and Unity, even game engines fully controlled by Activision, Ubisoft and EA are supported here.
Nintendo is well known in the video game world as a company that adheres to its principles, despite the influence of the market. It is said of her that she "remained to live in the twentieth century." But in the past two years, the Japanese gaming giant has shown its ability to adapt. It gradually opens for its foreign fans, watching their interests. This is indicated, for example, by the fact that the NES Classic Edition was restarted under pressure from users after the company announced it had ceased production of this old “nostalgic” model. And the whole Nintendo Switch is essentially a response to the criticism of the Wii U.
Cool features that competitors don't have
Nintendo calls the Switch a “hybrid console.” It can both be connected to a TV or be used “on the arms”, like a tablet, thanks to the integrated LCD touch screen. In addition, it is much more powerful tablet, sharpened by the game, and has removable joysticks on the sides, so if you wish, you can control it the same way as the PSP. Moreover: the console has a desktop mode (something between the PSP and the connection to the TV), and the Joy-Con wireless joysticks have movement sensors that allow you to play active games a la Xbox Kinect.
The device costs a little more than some competitors, but at the expense of such a variety of modes, each customer sees specific advantages for himself. The genius is also in the fact that everyone has a reason to take the Switch, no matter what device it owns. Have a tablet? Take Switch to play powerful games on your TV. Have an xbox and ps4? Take Switch, so that you can take it out of the hub and play in bed or on the go. Are there Xbox, Xbox Kinect, PS4, PS Vita and so on? You still need to take the Switch, because only Nintendo has Legend of Zelda and the latest Mario. The network is stretched to the maximum, you can not escape from it, be you at least five years old, at least ninety.
And in each of its hypostases, the Switch turns out to be a completely worthy device, at the level or even in something better than the alternatives, for which it was, in fact, called the gadget of the year according to the Time version. For $ 300 people get a good five or six devices under one shell. In its report on the fiscal year, Nintendo has a graph showing the statistics on the use of the new console. Only 18% play mostly in TV mode. About 30% prefer the desktop or "manual" mode, without the inclusion of a docking station. All other 52%, actively use both configurations. This is the main success of Nintendo: people liked to use the console as planned. The high download speed and ease of switching between modes make it possible to handle the console, which the Wii U never did.
The result - 7.63 million sales of the console in October . Now, under 9 million. By the end of the fiscal year, thanks to the holiday season , 14 million are expected : in the USA and Japan, Switch is considered a first-class gift, and millions of parents will buy it for themselves, for friends and children. This means that for the year the new console will provide more sales than the Wii U for all its existence. And this is not going to stop Nintendo. She has big plans for Switch.
The company underestimated the starting demand for the Switch, and there were not enough stocks in warehouses around the world in March. And this is before the launch of such powerful titles as Super Mario Odyssey and the expected in 2018 Pokemon / Metroid Prime, which should cause another sales boom. Nintendo expects that interest in the system will only increase, especially when high-budget titles from third-party developers begin to appear on it (which is also planned for 2018). In order not to make their users wait and not test their patience, the company is going to release an unprecedented number of new devices - several tens of millions.
The risk, it would seem, is very high: the devices are already pre-ordered, about a billion dollars have been spent on them, and there are no guarantees that they will be needed in such large quantities soon. The same Wii did not meet the expectations. Nintendo is reassured by worried investors that the new Switch, in her opinion, should be compared not with the Wii, but with devices from the DS series. The vast majority of users quite regularly play with the Switch without connecting to a TV. They take the device with them to school and to work, go with him around the house. This is how DS was used, which became Nintendo's best-selling platform, with 154 million devices released. Part of the success of that pocket console was due to the fact that people had a reason to buy more than one set-top box per home. A keen middle class in the USA and Japan sometimes took one DS for each family member. Nintendo believes that history can repeat.
The company once again takes a risk, and orders a record number of consoles to sell them next year. First, in 2017 it was planned to release only 8 million devices. Looking at sales success, the plan for the year was raised to 16 million - so that people could easily buy a device as a gift for the New Year. And now the number has grown to 30 million! Even the most successful standard console did not achieve such numbers, the PS2 sold 22.5 million units in its best year (three years after launch). But Nintendo believes that such numbers are easy for her. The giant failure of Spectacles from Snapchat does not stop her.
Nintendo Switch, like almost any other device, cheaper to take in the United States. There it costs from $ 239 to $ 299 . In Russia, the gadget is sold for 22.5-25 thousand rubles ($ 400). The difference in price for the Xbox and PS4, by the way, is even more serious. And we are engaged in shipment of goods to Russia, Pochtoy.com. You can register , enter the code GEEKTIMES and get $ 7 to the account of the first order.