To say the Nintendo Switch has had a strong 2017 would be a vast understatement. Coming off of the failure of the Wii U, Nintendo created a console that has managed to reignite mainstream interest in the company while also drawing back fans who had abandoned Nintendo platforms in favor of other consoles or PC.
Early on, games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe helped to keep players glued to their system, and as we moved into summer and autumn, titles like Splatoon 2 and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle kept the momentum up. The future, however, is still a question mark. It remains unclear if the Switch can continue to sell at its current lightning-fast pace, because with a few missteps, it could plateau more quickly than we expect. Here is what Nintendo has to do to keep up the Switch’s momentum in 2018.
Keep the first-party games coming
It’s no fluke that the Switch kept selling beyond its initial launch window: its lineup of games has been absolutely incredible. But if you look at the games released over the course of the year, they hit many of Nintendo’s key franchises. There have already been entries in Mario and Zelda, the company’s biggest series. Wii U hit Splatoon already has a sequel. A Mario Kart game – albeit a remastered one – is already out, and even the sequel to Xenoblade releases this week.
It seems foolish to tell Nintendo to slow its roll with new releases, but the company has to ensure that a similar pace is established in 2018. As of now, we know about new entries for Kirby, Yoshi, and Fire Emblem expected to launch in 2018. New Pokémon and Metroid Prime games have also been announced, but it seems more than a little optimistic to assume those games will be out next year.
There are a few series, however, that are question marks, and releasing them during normally dry periods in 2018 could help to keep players glued to their Switch consoles for longer stretches of time. The “Wars” franchise – Battalion and Advance – has remained dormant for years, and with the Switch’s traditional control scheme and touch screen, it seems like a match made in heaven. Likewise, we haven’t seen new full entries in the Mario Baseball or Mario Strikers series since 2008 and 2007, respectively. Particularly during the summer months, these seem like obvious choices, and the motion control in the Joy-Con controllers would make them more engaging than had they released on the 3DS or Wii U.
Double down on third-party ports
The Switch’s unique blend of portability and (relative) processing power places it in a great position for both console and PC players, as it encourages “double-dipping” on titles they had already owned. Thus far, we’ve seen a few prominent third-party publishers, most notably Bethesda, embrace this and release special ports of their past games, as well as announce plans for future Switch ports. Doom and Skyrim may have finally disappeared from your radar, but the prospect of being able to play them in the palm of your hand, possibly while you’re away from your home, is quite enticing. Though it seems insane to expect a Wolfenstein II port to release without significant downgrades, it has me excited about what else Bethesda has in store. Given the lackluster sales figures for the other versions of Dishonored 2, it could make sense for it to hit the Switch, as well, and the game’s first-person combat seems like it would translate well to the split Joy-Con controls.
Bethesda is just one publisher, though – it can’t begin and end with one company. Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Square Enix, and Ubisoft have all taken interest in the Switch, but Nintendo needs to encourage these companies to release Switch versions for many of its upcoming games. When the system was announced, a huge list of partner companies was also shown, and it included names like Warner Bros., Konami, Capcom, and even From Software. Thus far, we haven’t heard much from these companies.
If a Dark Souls trilogy is in the works for the Switch, Nintendo would be wise to announce it soon rather than later. And though independent creators have already flocked to the system, there are still plenty of gaps to fill. Telltale Games, for instance, has only released a few of its series on the Switch, with classics like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us nowhere to be found. Particularly, if Nintendo allowed for cross-saving between other consoles and the Switch, it could encourage players to jump ship completely.
Cancel the subscription requirement for online play
Nintendo initially planned to begin its paid subscription online service for the Switch this autumn, but the company instead chose to delay it until sometime in early 2018. When it launches, a subscription will be required in order to play the majority of Nintendo Switch games online, and users will also gain access to a library of classic games for the NES and Super NES. When Sony announced it would be transitioning to a paid subscription model for PlayStation 4 online multiplayer in 2013, few were surprised, as the company had a fairly robust infrastructure in place already, with a chat system and several online multiplayer titles available at launch.
Nintendo isn’t Sony, and the Switch isn’t the PlayStation 4. There are a handful of Switch games with substantial online multiplayer communities, but the system’s portability has the adverse effect of limiting its usefulness for internet connectivity. As such, it isn’t the ideal online device, and Nintendo has to recognize this. With hilariously archaic voice chat support and few of the features offered on either Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, it’s insane for Nintendo to expect people to pay for online play. The only logical option is to keep online play free, and limit the subscription service to its back library of retro games – with no Virtual Console to speak of, it would still be the only way for fans to play their favorite games of yesteryear on their most convenient console.
Disclaimer: The following article was written freely based on the author's opinion, and it may not necessarily represent Inven Global's editorial stance.