Nintendo Switch to Launch March 3 for $300

Posted on January 13, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Games with 33 Comments

Nintendo announced today that its next-generation Switch game console will ship on March 3 and will cost $300.

I’m still curiously excited by, and interested in, this console, which as you may recall will transform between in-home console and portable form factors. And I say this despite my general lack of interest in mobile gaming or Nintendo’s Disney-like approach to gaming.

Anyway. You can view the Nintendo Switch presentation on YouTube, but here are my key take-aways.

Nintendo entertainment DNA. As noted above, Nintendo certainly has its own style, and it’s clear there are millions of people around the world who just gravitate to this sort of thing. Helping matters, the Switch pulls in key features from literally all previous Nintendo consoles dating back to the original NES. It’s a pretty impressive legacy.

Pricing. The $300 price tag is only a bit higher than I expected—I was thinking something closer to $250, given how Microsoft and Sony priced their own more powerful consoles over the holidays—but not a deal-breaker. And since this console will not be limited by region locking as with previous Nintendo hardware, it’s even more appealing.

Availability. The Switch will be available on March 3 in Japan, the United States, Canada, major European countries, Hong Kong, and other territories, Nintendo says. So it’s not a staggered launch where certain key markets have to wait.

Online services. While details are still vague, Nintendo will augment the Switch with online services that include all the expected features like online multiplayer, matchmaking, chat, and so it. These services will become paid in Fall 2017, but there will be a free trial period before then. (Switch also supports local multiplayer over Wi-Fi.)

Diversity of play styles. The key to this console, I think, is the diversity of play styles it affords, thanks to its modular design. It can be played while connected to your television, but it is also a system you can bring with you, to share the fun wherever you go, as Nintendo said. Beyond that, it supports multiple control (and controller styles) as well.

Nintendo Switch Console. The Nintendo Switch Console is essentially a tablet computer with a capacitive touch screen. It can be used with the Switch Dock (below) and various controller types as a home system. Or, you can use it on its own by connecting two Joy-Con controllers (one on each side) as a standalone mobile gaming machine. But you can also use those controllers wirelessly (one in each hand) and prop up the console with its built-in kickstand; this is called Table Top mode.

Nintendo Switch Dock. When you combine the Switch Console with the Switch Dock, you arrive at what Nintendo says is just the “Nintendo Switch,” a traditional TV-based video game console, and is used in what Nintendo calls “TV mode.” It can be used with a variety of controller types (see below).

Joy-Con Controllers. The Nintendo Switch includes two Joy-Con controllers—left and right—which look a lot like the left and right sides, respectively, of a traditional controller. They can be used with the Joy-Con Grip (below) to create a wireless controller, can attach to the Switch Console and used directly, or can be used independently. When the Joy-Cons are connected to the Switch Console, this is called Handheld mode.

Joy-Con Grip. This special part connects two Joy-Con controllers to create a more gamepad-like experience.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. This more traditional game controller works much like an Xbox or PlayStation controller.

Battery life. When used in Handheld mode, Nintendo Switch will get 2.5 hours to 6.5 hours of battery life, depending on the game. The system charges via USB-C (nice), and can be played while charging, of course.

So that’s the hardware, or at least most of it. I’ll be looking at the software and games, as well, but we’ll see if that warrants its own write-up.


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Comments (33)

33 responses to “Nintendo Switch to Launch March 3 for $300”

  1. 5534

    My son, who has been a Nintendo fan since about kindergarten age (he'll turn 21 a week after this releases), pre-ordered one from Best Buy last night. He's pretty excited and said he's going to put it in our family room so he can play it on our 102" projection screen. (I wasn't so excited about him ordering it though, because the plan was to get it for his birthday. Oh well, will just have to give him the cash instead.)

  2. 699

    Can't wait to get this! I'm a huge Nintendo fan, ever since my original NES back in '88 my parents got for me for Christmas. I went on to love the GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, Super Nintendo, GBA SP, DS, DSXL and now the 3DSXL and Wii U. Such a great brand, and I love their innovation, franchise games (Mario, Zelda) and it's family approach to gaming. I'll be first in line (or online, as the case may be) to buy this baby!

  3. 5553

    $300 ???

    I got a One S with BF1 for $249 !!! And it does UHD HDR blu ray and HDR streaming and 4k streaming too as well as HDR gaming AND is fantastic and fast for YouTube Amazon Netflix etc.

    Nintendo fail.

  4. 5234

    Here's a bit of info on the GPU of the Switch, as compared to others:

    Xbox 360:  240 GFLOPS

    PS3:  400 GFLOPS

    Tegra X1 (powers the Switch - the Switch may be a custom SKU, though):  1 TFLOP

    Xbox One:  1.31 TFLOPS

    PS4:  1.84 TFLOPS

    PS4 Pro:  4.2 TFLOPS

    NVIDIA GTX 980 (Maxwell arch - same as Tegra X1):  ~4.6T TFLOPS

    NVIDIA GTX Titan X (Maxwell):  6 TFLOPS

    NVIDIA GTX 1080 (Pascal - newer arch than Tegra X1):  9 TFLOPS

    NVIDIA Titan X (Pascal - best card you can buy currently):  ~11 TFLOPS


    • 5234

      In reply to Waethorn:

      It's maybe a bit surprising to find that a PS4 Pro keeps pace with a GTX 980 (which sits between a GTX 1060 and 1070 in benchmark performance) for far less money (even compared to the GTX 10 series).  Something to think about for DIY PC builders.

      • 4370

        In reply to Waethorn:

        Yes, but 980, though between 1060 and 1070, is very close to 1060 et pretty far from 1070.

        • 5234

          It's far from both from a price perspective.  I just mention it because it's the same architecture as the Tegra X1.


          As far as the PS4 Pro comparison, a GTX 1060 3GB card is still close to $300 for some brands.

  5. 3272

    I am rooting for Nintendo to fail. Doesn't mean I won't end up getting a Switch at some point but I am so sick of this company releasing consoles with 6 year old technology with a gimmick to go along with it. This is essentially a Nvidia shield TV. That's what this is, except this plays Nintendo games and not android.

    Some games may go up to 1080p when it's docked. Seriously? I hope the same people who bashed the Xbox One for most games being less than 1080p are consistent and bash Nintendo for it too. It's worse with Nintendo though because this is 3 years later and they still are playing at less than 1080p for the most part. 720p as a handheld is fine though.

    32GB internal memory. Again, really? Download Zelda which will be over 13 Gigs and you're done unless you buy a SD card. If we seem to agree that phones should all come with more than 32GB at this point with apps that are MB's in size, surely a game machine should have more internal memory with games that are GB's in size.

    Motion controls with plastic controllers that break apart. They've done this before. It's a wiimote. While some of the experiences were good, I don't want to be forced to play with motion controls. The boxing game looks cool. But I don't want to be forced to stand and swing my arms with a plastic toy remote in my hand. Just give us a new damn version of Punchout that we can sit down and play.

    I don't know. They piss me off nowadays. They hang their hat on 3 franchises but less and less of the people who grew up playing those franchises are still buying a console and current kids don't have near the connection to those franchises.

    I think Nintendo is out of touch and have been for years. They got lucky with the Wii. Every Mom, Grandparent, Aunt and Uncle bought that thing, bought 1 game to go with it and never used it again. Still amazes me thinking about all the people I saw owning a Wii who have no interest in gaming and used it for a week. I'll probably own a Switch but that doesn't change my opinion that Nintendo just doesn't get it.

  6. 1154

    Based on the much simpler NES Classic issue... when they say they'll be available in all those countries... they mean they will have 3 or 4 in about 10 stores in that country and we'll be treated to endless stories of how it sold out and how they didn't anticipate demand, etc. (putting Zelda as a release title guarantees demand)

    I'm still waiting for the NES Classic to come back into stock...  I'm not even going to try for the Switch until it is well past release date.

  7. 9519

    With it based on ARM,  it'll be interesting to see if Android game developers port their games and if Nintendo will let them. 

  8. 5553

    This will not make anyone SWITCH ??

    • 5714

      In reply to Joe_Blo:

      He's a wake up call for ya...  I have never purchased (or even played) an Xbox or PLaystation, but I have owned every Nintendo Console from DAY ONE.  Switching is what Microsoft and Sony have failed at, and now that they are selling stripped down Gaming PC's, my interest is absolute zero.

  9. 2175

    Nintendo trying new things is what I love about them

  10. 422

    So, I was waiting for this announcement and  have to say, I'm quite disappointed. For 300 dollars+taxes+game it is just too much. I either want a gaming console and you can buy very good Xbox One/PS4 bundle for less, of I want casual gaming for which I can get iPad mini which gives me also a great platform for other things then just gaming.

    Also I was hoping for some app ecosystem so I could use the Switch for Netflix,Youtube etc. It seems to be solely for gaming :(

  11. 5288

    Here's hoping that Nintendo is onto something.  For me personally, Zelda is a launch title, so I'll definitely be picking this up.

  12. 5288

    Some made the argument that this will definitely fail if they don't get third party support.  You NEED the multi-plats, they say.  I think third parties are important, but I also think pretty much everyone who wants to play a multi-plat already has a console to do it.  That being said, the ability to play multi-plats on the go could be big.  We'll see.  I'm rooting for Nintendo, but I don't see this thing replacing my Xbox One.  I'm looking at my TV-stand to figure out how they'll best be arranged around each other :)

    • 5234

      In reply to scd147:

      I don't think multi-platform targeting is valid here: this thing has a low-powered ARM processor with a relatively weak GPU compared to what's in the Xbox One and PS4, which is what game developers are building for.  For one thing, they need to completely recompile stuff from x86 to ARM.  Secondly, the GPU is a much lower-end target, and a lot of companies won't like having to downscale their graphics for it.  

      Honestly, I'd like to see more of a comparison between the general CPU and graphics compute ability of this compared to a PS3 or Xbox 360, which game developers have already abandoned.  That's the indicator of whether or not multi-platform games will come to this.  If the Switch is closer to the older systems, then I don't have any hope for multi-plat third-party support.

    • 5234

      In reply to scd147:

      See my comparison list above.

  13. 456

    I don't think I have seen it yet..  What exactly is in the "Box", like is the dock or the controler combining thing part of the 300 bucks

    I like the idea, but this really seems like it could lead to "Accessory" hell.

    • 5305

      In reply to GotCobol:

      Nintendo said the $299 box will fetch you the main console, the 'joy con' controllers (both right and left), wristbands for the controllers, TV dock, and AC plug and charger. It's a decent deal.

  14. 442

    Considering the complexity of the hardware, $300 is not that bad.  I'm really not that big of a Nintendo fan, probably because of my school and career made me miss out on early days of their offerings.  But this one does have some appeal to it.

  15. 5234

    I want one, but the only interesting game in the launch lineup is Zelda.

    It's $400 in Canada + $80 for Zelda, and then tax on top, equating to $542.  That's an awful lot for just one good game so far.  The other 2 decent-looking games that were shown off were Skyrim and Mario, and those won't come out until later this year.  I wonder if we'll see any price drops before the end of the year....maybe a Cyber Monday discount or game bundle??  Even if the base system price doesn't drop, if they bundle in 1 good game out of that bunch, I'd consider it a much better deal than buying one right now, cuz getting 1 game for free is like getting 16% off, and that more than covers the tax.

  16. 5394

    This seems so logical. If only Microsoft sees the implication of merging Xbox with PC to get a multi-use gaming/PC device. Always someone else beating Microsoft to the punch.

  17. 399

    I'm of two minds about it.

    On the one hand, it's a great idea - my favourite Xbox One accessory is a Linx Vision gaming tablet (an 8 inch, atom based, Windows 10 tablet that slots into a controller) and having console gaming not tied to a TV is great and not having it streamed can only be better.

    On the other hand, I have to wonder just how viable it is. If most people's casual gaming needs are met by their phones then are they really going to want to carry around a dedicated gaming device? Are the few people who would be tempted to lug it around really be all that happy with the Nintendo ecosystem?

    • 1777

      In reply to maethorechannen:

      Keep in mind the 3DS is still a big seller, and the Switch is in some ways the next Nintendo handheld. They're merging their dominance of the handheld console market with the ability to play it on a large screen TV. If they pull it off and attract all their existing 3DS customers to upgrade, this thing is going to be a huge hit.

  18. 5234

    They show some kind of slide-on thing for the separately-sold Joy-Con's.  What is that?  The base system doesn't seem to include any.

  19. 5714

    This is gonna be another MEGA-HIT for Nintendo.  That's how these things work right?  Nintendo redefines the gaming industry every other generation. Nintendo 64 (HIT) Came Cube (MISS) Wii (HIT) Wii-U (MISS), Switch (HIT?).  I don't own an Xbox or PLaystation, and see little need for them over my 4K gaming PC.  But this is something different... a true Two-in-one's got that "Nintendo Has Done It Again" vibe.  Sony and Microsoft should be worried.

    • 5914

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

      I don`t think Microsoft or Sony need to worry. Microsoft will present the project Scorpio this year.


    • 6358

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

      Unlikely. Yes, the Wii put the world to fire, but the N64, Gamecube and WiiU did not. It's essentially a new portable system. You can't have a portable system and a home console in a single piece of hardware at a decent price with today's technology (we're limited by our batteries). Given this, and looking at their past history, I'm going to say this one is going to die because it repeats all the mistakes of the previous generations.

      Although I AM surprised they went with the latest tech (except for SD cards, which is how they're screwing us over again). That's very Nintendo-unlike.

      • 2130

        In reply to Athena:

        What's newer than SD Cards? Since the Switch uses MicroSDXC, and you can download all your digital games to them, I can only assume you mean there's something else. Yes, you also have the option of buying their game cards but it's Sony that screws you with proprietary memory card types, not Nintendo.

  20. 932

    Cant wait to get it!