Nintendo Unveils Its Mobile First Vision for the Future Video Games

Posted on October 20, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Games with 65 Comments

Today, Nintendo unveiled its next generation video game console, which will double as a mobile gaming system as well. Dubbed Nintendo Switch, and previously code-named NX, this new device looks to be a delightful departure from the monolithic consoles that Sony and Microsoft offer.

“In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system also enables gamers to play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose,” the company notes. “The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles.”

console

While hard core gamers will question whether any mobile system can deliver the graphics horsepower needed to meet the expectations of those who experience 4K graphics or virtual reality on other consoles, what I see here is quite thrilling. The system is truly modular, too, and not just between docked/console and portable modes. You can remove the controller pads from either side of the handheld, for example, and play games while that handheld is propped up on a built-in kickstand. Two people can even compete on the same device, each with their own controller pad.

modular-controller

And there are concessions to gamers from other platforms: The Switch gamepad looks a lot like an Xbox Wireless Controller, and features the same basic button layout. And the game graphics shown look just fine, thank you very much, and for the most part are not as cartoonish as those on previous Nintendo consoles. (Obviously, the Mario game that is shown is on the cartoonish side, by design.)

to-go

In some ways, the Switch appears to one-up Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere scheme, in the sense that you really can play Switch anywhere. With Microsoft’s solution, you’re limited by the size and portability of these devices on which you can play. The firm’s expensive Surface Book, for example, cannot successfully play any Xbox Play Anywhere title with any degree of graphical fidelity or performance.

kickstand

I’m impressed. Like many, I had written Nintendo off. But the Switch looks innovative and fun. I cannot wait to get one.

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Comments (72)

72 responses to “Nintendo Unveils Its Mobile First Vision for the Future Video Games”

  1. 699

    I can't wait to get one of these gems, too. I'm a huge Nintendo fanatic, mostly a big Zelda and Mario fan. I have the Wii U and the 3DS but greatly looking forward to this. Any word on internal storage capacity and sale date or price?

     

  2. 140

    I agree that this console will have to hit all the industry sweet spots.  But, either way, I will be buying one.  I am a Nintendo addict.

  3. 5234

    If the system is $199, I'd buy one.

  4. 427

    In a word, Brilliant! This will remind everyone of how innovative Nintendo can be.  I think the smartest thing about this is they are appealing to the people who like the handheld (and or mobile) games and those who enjoy console gaming.   This seems to be a really cool idea to meet both needs, be in both markets while manufacturing just one device.  I still think that mobile phones will dominate mobile gaming, but this will resonate with kids who use Nintendo's current hand helds, at least I think.   This seems like they will take back some market share like they did when the wii launched.  Who knows in a few years though if this will turn out to have been another fad.  I think if they coud put out a killer android phone that accepted those tiny game cartridges as well that might be one more step towards an awesome consumer experience.  I only say that because the portable system isn't something you are going to stick in your pocket and whip out while standing inline somewhere.   Anyway, I'm sure this will be a hit.

    • 1292

      In reply to awright18:

      I don't understand. They tried the weird tablet thingy with the Wii U, why do they think this Wii U 2.0 all of a sudden people are going to embrace the tablet thingy? At LEAST this time Wii U 2.0 will support gaming engines like Unity and Unreal which is a big reason why Wii U was sunk. They are trying to be in two camps at once, mobile and console gaming. We already all know how it works out when we combine a toaster and refrigerator. ;)

      • 2131

        In reply to FreeJAC:

        The WiiU wasn't a portable. This is actually the reverse of a WiiU - instead of a wireless gamepad that extends the stationary gaming console, the gaming console is the controller with modular controllers. They're not combining two unrelated device types (your silly toaster and fridge example) but taking one device and extending it to all their gaming reaches. I think l, as long as they have the quality games to run on it, can be successful.

  5. 2130

    In reply to JudaZuk:

    "Well considering it is Nintendo .. it is most likely proprietary storage either way :/  They seem to just love making stupid things like that.
    It was the same with Playstation in the beginning, but I thing that was some remnants of the fact that the Playstation was after all designed for Nintendo in the first place :)  Thankfully Sony stopped with proprietary storage, I doubt Nintendo have yet.. "

    Not sure where you got that idea. Nintendo has been using SD cards for storage on handheld and home console for the past two generations, along with USB storage on the Wii/Wii U

  6. 5714

    I've been a Nintendo fan since the NES days .. I had every console including a Wii U and loved them all ... this looks HORRIBLE!!  I just don't see the point  to having detachable controllers.  I would have replaceed the "Dock" with a USB Powered - HDMI Dongle to wirelessly transmit the HD single to the TV.  Then you could move the console from one TV to another TV with ease.  

    Nintendo has spent years innovating dual screen gaming and this relegates the extra screen to an ugly and awkward docking station. The video shows adults standing around outside playing games on a tiny screen with tiny controllers...that's not going to happen...

    This will be an EPIC failure, I doubt they sell even three million units.

    • 5818

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

      I'm thinking that this is like every single console launch.  There are several new ideas that are thrown out there and some stick and some don't (3-D in 3DS, Kinect with XB1).  Your right, adults won't sit around and play, at least not what we think of as traditional gamers.  I can absoutely see my 7 year old trying to get every one of his friends and his mom to play with him by pushing a controller on them.  I have a sneaking suspision the skewing to older players in the trailer was done to entice the younger ones.  Marketers have done this for decades, for youth based products they always show a demographic playing with the toy that is older than the actual targeted age group.  This is because the younger kids always aspire to be like the older kids.  

      For the hard core/premium game buyer then my guess is that it will mostly stick in it's cradle until your forced to go on some long trip.  Then the portability of the console becomes a rarely used, but nice to have feature.  If looked at as a traditional TV console, it's underpowered especially as it relates to PSPro and Scorpio.  If looked at as a next gen portable that competes with smart phones, it's up there with the best the market has to offer.  It's gaming dedicated nature will allow it to be competitive for some years.  

      Depending on what 'clicks' pun intended, in the market, this may sell the same 10 million that the Wii U sold, it may sell less, like the 3 million you predict, or if the kids and families decide it's the right mix, it may be a big hit.   I can see mom's saying "I'll buy this for you because you only get one thing and this will do both" Just like Mom's bought the Wii because they wanted to play with the motion controls.  I sooo remember several mom's I knew buy the Wii instead of the Xbox 360 the kids were clammoring for.  


  7. 1567

    whilst it looks interesting, battery life is a concern, also noting that apparently there is a vent on top and possibly a fan inside, how not-so-quiet my last Nintendo Wii was, how inefficient Nvidias precious Tegra processors have been (both heat and power perspective) and it seems there are a few hurdles.

     

    Also in the past devs have had difficulties porting to Nintendo Wii consoles in the past due to a lack of CPU power hindering things like AI algorithms and physics, since this thing is said to use an ARM Processor it may be restricted from that standpoint as well.

     

    • 5234

      In reply to nbates66:

      Tegra inefficient?  That's relative.  Nobody has a low power CPU with anywhere close to the GPU power.  If games are coded to use less CPU power and more GPU (even for compute), Tegra really shines.  Is it as fast as an AMD APU?  No.  But then it's still far more energy-efficient and far less expensive.  Intel is nowhere close.

      I'd be more weary about NVIDIA's driver and kernel support though because their lifecycle support contracts are horribly short and restrictive.

       

      PS Vita used an ARM processor.

  8. 2481

    I think this is a smart move for Nintendo. However I do not think adults will buy this but more for children.

  9. 2175

    Xbox fan here, but very excited for this product. My kids would LOVE this but I'm also into the fun Nintendo games too. Ok just Mario Kart and most Mario related games, but they're fun.

  10. 5486

    I see Nintendo are going for the casual gamer again. This certainly won't appeal to hardcore gamers, but most casual gamers get their kicks from their mobile phones/tablets these days. Is there really a market for this? If their isn't, and Nintendo get it wrong again, it really will be game over.

  11. 5485

    My kids have the Wii U and one 3DS each. They share an iPad with me but each want their own. Oh and the oldest one (9 years old) wants an iPhone for the Pokemon go etc etc.

    Now this?

    Error, error, device overload, blip.

    I think the success of this will be entirely dependent on how well it works. If it work flawlessely, both from a solo and multiplayer perspective, including online ... it might have a chance.

    But, I would prefer and invest in something more like this!!! Both for myseld and my kids:

    https://shield.nvidia.com

     

  12. 442

    Hey, at least it's got an audio jack! :)

  13. 1043

    I just hope they reduce the dead zone on the control sticks. Trying to blay BlackOps 3 on the Wii-U was a terrible experience. Going with nvidia for the processor makes me wonder if they are going to run the system on a custom build of Android with a walled-garden app store similar to the Amazon Fire or nvidia Shield? Would certainly make it easier to get apps for media services like Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, etc... on the system, as well as make it easier for all the Andorid/iOS developers they hired over the last three years to make games and apps for it.

    $249 for the tablet and base station would be reasonable, but this is Nintendo we're talking about, expect $299 and excuses.

  14. 5288

    Not a single kid in the ad, and the parts look like a little less kid friendly than Nintendo is generally known for.  I'm on the fence about that.  On the one hand, like Joe Camel, get them while their young.  You've always known you could give a kid a Nintendo and its going to be kid tough at least to an extent.  Hell, when I moved into my house I dropped my Wii (packaged up with all the accessories) down a flight of stairs and they all still work.  Not sure any Xbox would have taken that beating.  The other thing is pretty much once you are a Mario, Zelda, or Metroid fan, you stay one for life. 

    On the other hand one of the big problems I have with Wii and Wii U is they never felt marketed to me, a long time Nintendo gamer going back to the NES.  This is also true of the GameCube at least when it launched, but they seemed to figure it out and get Mature titles on there.  Re-releasing it in Jet black instead of that purple helped too.  Anyway, later GameCube aside they all felt a little too kiddy for me.  I would tell people I didn't leave Nintendo, Nintendo left me.  Now it feels like they are coming after us again and I love that.  Let's hope this thing lives up to the hype.  Also, please give me some Metroid with a side of Zelda!!!  The other way around is fine too. 

  15. 728

    For yet another product generation, Nintendo's valuable game IP will be trapped inside gimmicky and inferior hardware. I speculate they would make significantly more money by porting Mario et al. to iOS, Android, Xbox, and PlayStation.

    • 5234

      In reply to Matt Lohr:

      I'd flip that and say that Nintendo's valuable hardware will be saddled with gimmicky and inferior game IP.

    • 442

      In reply to Matt Lohr:

      There's a big fat line between hardware porn and gaming.  While it's fun to keep both in the same context, there's no need for it in the long run.  Nintendo's Wii release proved that.  So, if the games rock, only hardware fanatics will put any weight on the specs to that level.  Or in other words, it's more about the game.  Get it?

    • 1567

      In reply to Matt Lohr:

      not sure i'd go that far, the idea is at least a somewhat different one that stands out between the Xbox One and PS4, i just fear there is too much chance the system's hardware won't hold up. I have these doubts because of things like the Nintendo Wii U (a device released less than 4 years ago!!) still had a resistive touchscreen on it instead of a capacitive one!

      (PS - that kickstand better not be flimsy plastic Nintendo... if it is most people will break it in a month haha)

  16. 543

    wireless controllers on a flight ?

  17. 3118

    I wonder if all the classic games I bought for the wii will be able to transfer to this. Or will they have to be purchased again???

    • 1001

      In reply to rbwatson0:

      For the Wii? Don´t kid yourself... the chance that they are transferable are minimal.

    • 699

      In reply to rbwatson0:

      yes, all titles you purchased on the Wii U and/or 3DS should be transferable. Nintendo has tied that to your user ID. I was able to transfer most of my older DSi titles to the 3DS when that system came out.

      • 2354

        In reply to bbold:

        Actually, Nintendo doesn't tie wiiware purchases to your ID.  The games themselves are tied to your account however, the account itself is tied to the console (at least that was the case when I checked about 6 months ago).

        So even though you can stick your ID on a new device (after deregistering it on your old one) you're still SoL, especially when the deregistering thing seems to not work most of the time.

        Discs or carts, no problem, but be prepared to call and fight with nintendo to keep ownership of your old games.

    • 2354

      In reply to rbwatson0:

      Take a flying guess   hahaha

  18. 193

    Wow. Nintendo might actually hit it out of the park with this one. With the Wii U when it was announced all I could think of was "what? why?" but this thing makes so much sense!

    I use a Nintendo 3DS myself and love the portability of it as well as having actual controls and good games (vs smartphone), but occasionally I would love to put it up on the big screen and relax on the couch while playing the same game. I've also been tempted to get the Wii U for some of it's games but couldn't justify it just for those couple. Well Nintendo has found the perfect solution! Combine both of those consoles! I am super excited for this! This is something I've been hoping for but thought of as just a pipe dream.

    Way to go Nintendo! Back in the game!

  19. 6844

    Pretty sure this is where the Xbox app on phones is heading. People have phones anyway so there's a competitive advantage built in.

  20. 600

    I'm not sure if I'd get one for me, but I know my 10 year old will be wanting one for his next birthday. 

     

    Our family has tried most of the recent consoles (mostly as gifts for my kids) over the years, PS3, XBox 360, Wii, the Wii-U, X-Box One and a few different DS modes I have to say I'm excited to see how the Switch plays. 

     

    I think it's clear consoles have to change to meet the changing reality of modern Smart phones and Tablets.  I find it harder and harder to find the time to sit down in front of the X-Box for some gaming. But I always seem to find a few minutes here and there for some Gaming on my Phone.

  21. 5530

    With regards to the horsepower of the graphics processor in this, it's using the guts that Nvidia uses in thier SHIELD tablet, on which Nvidia showed off Skyrim running on it in 2013. It's no coincidence that the promo video shows the Switch running skyrim too.

  22. 2371

    Looks to me to be much lower resolution graphics an number of polygon count on the game demoed.  This looks more like a system for kids primarily.  The types of games are more of a casual gaming nature and not high res, FPS games.  Microsoft would be wise to come out with an entertainment/casual gaming version of the Xbox for younger kids.  Allow those games to play on the high end xbox consoles as well.

     They need controller for phones too, and not like the current xbox controller, one that will mount to phones.

  23. 5234

    So are those memory cards or the rumoured return of game cartridges?

    If they're memory cards, I'd bet they're proprietary.  If they're game cartridges, where do your savegames go?  On OTHER memory cards?  Are they proprietary?

    • 5027

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Well considering it is Nintendo .. it is most likely proprietary storage either way :/  They seem to just love making stupid things like that.

      It was the same with Playstation in the beginning, but I thing that was some remnants of the fact that the Playstation was after all designed for Nintendo in the first place :)  Thankfully Sony stopped with proprietary storage, I doubt Nintendo have yet.. 

    • 1043

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Wii-U and 3DS both support regular memory cards for storing digital purchases, Nintendo just encrypts the download. No doubt they could use a single SD card slot to handle that and physical game cards for brick&mortar store sales. The device will certainly have some amount of internal storage as well, given the size of Wii-U games 128GB seems likely, enough for 5-6 AAA titles and all the Virtual Console classics.

  24. 5234

    Too many batteries....

  25. 6014

    Very cool technology that is designed to meet a use scenario I have never had any interest in.  I wish them success with it even though I won't be buying one.

  26. 1243

    Why do all the ads show adults using this thing? 90% of the time it's going to be kids or 20 somethings who leave it docked in the living room or bedroom.

  27. 5314

    I really can't explain it, but for some reason I'm finding the Switch weirdly interesting, something about it just seems right to me.

  28. 5027

    seems rather pointless, I wish Nintendo could just realize that the party is over, like Sega did years ago, and stop making quirky low powered consoles and instead focus on making games, and making them availible where most gamers are today.

    Will it sell?  Well yes, there are still Nintendo fans out there, but they are becoming less and less, because Nintendo keep stubbornly make low powered hardware that only let you play specific types of games.

    A PS and Xbox  could run any game Nintendo has to offer without a problem, but then also offers so much more.  So if you choose between consoles, and you only can buy one,  why would you pick the one that basically only lets you play some random game based on Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong or a mix of all of them.. or a Picachu.. if you can pick a more powerful system that can offer you low-end games, indi games, and high end games with vast variation.. ?? Then you really really need to be a Nintendo fan to limit your experinece to pick the Nintendo console. 

    If Nintendo would just release their games on Xbox and Playstation, and why not also on Tablets: Windows, iOs and Android ..  they would sell games easily.   Personally I feel it is time to move on from Mario and co... they keep rehashing the same old characters in everything over and over again.  But even if i feel that way, I would  most likely buy some Nintendo games out of Nostalgia , and even new games if they are any good if it was availible to Xbox as an example  But I would never pay for Nintendo hardware just to play 1 or 2 games that seem kind of fun.

    Because after all, is really anyone making any money on selling consoles?  Sony and Microsoft sure isnt.  

    They sell them at a loss, and make their profit in selling games and Services.   So why Nintendo?? Why are you not just selling games and services.. why waste money developing yet another strange thing that will only sell to a linited type of market.. and most likely at a loss, and then you cant even make up the money on games, because you consumer base is much to small. 

     

    That is what killed the Wii ... it was low powered, but kind of uniqe, and lots of fun for families so in that case it did not matter... but they made no money on the console really .they planned to make that up selling games.  But they hardly sold any games at all.

    Because they made the huge misstake of bundled all the games that  a majority of families wanted with the console ..  so you bought the Wii for you family, you had lots of fun with it .. but most people never ever bought a game for it after that.  You had the Tennis game, the bowling game and you were basically set . Some maybe bought some accessories, but that was rather limited.. 

    And of course the Nintendo fans bought games .. but not the large base of normal consumers/family that actually bought the thing and made it an initial success .that then flopped..  

     

     

     

    • 2354

      In reply to JudaZuk:

      MS and Sony break even on sales.  Gone are the days of sony taking a $300-$350 bath for every PS3.  Other than that, you're pretty much spot on.

       

      Also, even though its a youtube clip, the framarate while in 'portable' mode seemed really low compared to when attached to that fugly dock.

    • 5305

      In reply to JudaZuk:

      ...because there's nothing quite like a solid Pokemon game, and that is why you'd buy the Switch (or the 3DS XL today or the fleet of Nintendo handhelds of the past). It's essentially the same reason why many of us prefer Halo or Forza and would buy the Xbox One, even though there are other FPS and racing games out there on the PS4 and PC. If you have enough people who apparently value a specific set of experiences and content, why shouldn't you try to milk them? 

  29. 2354

    This really just looks like yet another gimicky easy-to-break fugly (the dock, of god the dock) that, like the Wii and especially the U, will have tremendous initial sales if Nintendo don't do their usual trick of limiting supply to create demand and buzz.  But only for a month or two.

    Portable gaming on a dedicated device is dead.  The Vita was an amazing piece of gear but it never gained any traction against the juggernaught of phone gaming.  It was too big (though smaller than the switch) and cumbersome, especially when you already had a 4-6" device in your pocket with a much larger game library.  And knowing Nintendo the games are going to be uber expensive, especially compared to phone ones.

    There is a reason sony have dropped the vita and channeled all their efforts into, as Paul says, the monoithic console.  Non-phone mobile gaming is dead, and this bizzare franken-console isn't going to change that.

    • 1043

      In reply to zybch:

      With over 58 million 3DS handhelds sold to date Sony and Microsoft combined don't even come close to the success of Nintendo handheld systems. Nintendo combining their console and handheld fanbases together is a brilliant move that will make Sony and Microsoft shit their pants with jealousy. The only thing Nintendo needs to be concerned about is reliability and "friendliness" of the hardware, the Switch doesn't look to be entirely kid friendly and the video was only targeting 20-something singles.

    • 5027

      In reply to zybch:
      Watching the controllers slide a part and in to the "console" ..and all over the place my initial thought is ... that will break ..fast.
      Anyone who has ever used any electronic devices, made in plastic, that had anything that needs to slide in or out of something knows that that works fine the first times..then the groves gets worn and it all becomes more and more loose .  And do you really want the controllers at the end of such a devices to be wobbely...?
      and if you loose one if them, can you even buy a replacement for just that part, lets say left side controller?
      Sure the versatility looks cool on video, but is it really practical? .. no, not really 

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