Comment: From concept to reality – Nintendo switch price proves divisive

£279.

That will be the official price for Nintendo’s latest Switch by the time it is released in just over a month and a half’s time on March 3.

Billed by the company as a “brand new kind of system that offers a wider diversity of play styles” whether glued to the coach, or buckled into a plane, consumer interest is now going to turn towards very real details about power and price.

After a very well received reveal video announced the machine late last year, Nintendo is no longer delivering an exciting concept pitch, but a very real system that it hopes will stake a key position in a videogame market where market share is ceded to powerful competitors such as Microsoft and Sony.

So with its imminent launch, top of the agenda for consumer media and gamers is very much the console’s cost.

Reporting for the BBC, Mark Cieslak noted that the US$ 299.99 starting price for the unit was above what analysts and gamers had anticipated.

“The stakes are high for the Japanese firm after its most recent console, the Wii U, failed to replicate the success of the original Wii,” noted the BBC.

“Nintendo shares dipped as details of the launch trickled out.”

The stock market’s concerns were seemingly reflected by online broadcaster Pat Conti, star of the Pat the NES Punk show, who was cited by the BBC as feeling Nintendo was overcharging for a concept that remains underpowered compared to lower price traditional game consoles available.

He raised particular concern via Twitter, about the cost of peripherals and additional controllers likely to be a key component of the more social gaming Nintendo appears to be targeting in its promotional material.

Jim Sterling, host and producer of the online Jimquisition show , suggested the price was a reasonable and somewhat expected amount for the launch, presuming that a sufficient number of the machines are available at the cost given once put up on online auction sites.

Nintendo has very much founds itself walking a tightrope trying to introduce a hybrid console that can serve as both a HD-ready living room console and a portable device that will aim to straddle a much broader gaming market than before the emergence of tablets and ubiquitous online play.

Specs and hypotheticals

Covering the additional details on the console, Time magazine noted that the 6.2 inch portable touch screen device that can detach from the SWitch was capable of running at a resolution up to 1280-by-720 pixels for those who like a slightly clearer graphical sheen.

In addition, the console has 32GB of internal storage that can be reportedly expanded using hard drives or SD cards, while supporting up to eight players linked to the device in close proximity.

“Switch is in effect a composite of everything the company’s been working toward for decades: a game system you can dock with a TV, but also removed to go mobile, and attach a pair of left and right controllers—called Joy-Cons—that let you play anywhere,” wrote Matt Peckham for Time.

“Motion sensitivity? Check. Family-friendly software? Check. Beloved Nintendo franchises? Check, several times over.”

Online play will also be supported with a dedicated Nintendo service that will initially be free, before the company starts charging for content and the ability to play games over the internet later in the year in a similar move to how Sony and Microsoft operate.

In terms of wider technical specs, the full power of the machine is uncertain, although it seems to be able to handle advanced ports of more successful acclaimed games for its previous Wii-U console in handheld mode.

The company has maintained that it expects a battery life for its portable component of the hybrid machine to last between 2.5 to six hours when taken out into the real world. However, for key system sellers such as the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, this is expected to last for the lower end of that spectrum with being charged or plugged in.

Paul Tassi, writing for Forbes, suggested that the console’s launch appeared a case of glass half full for Nintendo.

Tassi said he was not “terribly optimistic about the long-term prospects of the Nintendo Switch,” questioning how different it may be from the critically acclaimed, but relatively underperforming Wii U over the last half decade.

“While I know never to count Nintendo out, I do tend to focus on some of their more frustration decisions, because frankly, there are a lot to choose from,” he said.

“But I like Nintendo as a company overall, and certainly love their games, as they’ve been some of the best I’ve played not just in recent years, but during my entire lifetime as a gamer, which I know is true of so many others.”

Tassi did see some potential positives for Nintendo, including the launch of its latest sprawling Legend of Zelda title at launch as a unique and potentially lucrative seller of the system that is rarely available with newer consoles in recent years.

Additionally, he also praised the central gimmick of a hybrid console that can be played at home and the go as a much more unique selling point that it’s hugely popular Wii and less successful Wii U.

While questioning the proposed ‘1-2-Switch’ motion controlled game that can be supported by the console – played up by Nintendo this week as a major innovation – Tassi said that some lesser known titles had already garnered more buzz to for the console.

“Snipperclips, which also uses the Joy-Con controllers for a co-op puzzle game that’s both adorable and a lot of fun,” he said. It may not be the system’s Wii Sports (the Switch really needs a pack-in game, incidentally), but if enough players discover it, the system might have more worthwhile exclusive games in the spring than just Zelda after all.”

Reporting for TechCrunch, Brian Heater, suggested that the company found itself at a precipice with regard to a need to balance fan expectations with the broader market demands of an ever changing landscape for gaming at home and on the go.

“If the company plays its cards right, the Switch could play a role in ushering in another golden age for Nintendo — but the console has an uphill battle, thanks in no small part to the stumbles of its predecessor, the Wii U. And while the new system is no doubt an innovative gaming experience, it’s not exactly a straightforward plug-and-play experience,” he wrote.

Heater added that for all the Switch’s potential and technology stuffed into its box at launch, it had chosen a lofty price point for a new system considering its previous position of successfully undercutting competition.

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