A Month Before Nintendo Switch Launches, We Really Should Know More About It

The Nintendo Switch is dropping on March 3, less than a month from now, and it feels like we still don't know some key features about the console. But how does that compare to other console launches? Is this lack of information unprecedented or par for the course?

So what don't we know about the Switch? Although we know it will have a paid online service, we don't know how it will work or what it will look like (though we know Miiverse won't be part of it). We don't know if it will have an achievement system. We also don't have any concrete information on the Virtual Console, Nintendo's service for selling digital versions of their classic games, which has been a huge feature on Wii, Wii U and 3DS.

To see how other consoles compare, we looked back at three different launches: The Wii U, the PS4 and the Xbox One.

It's worth recognising that online services just aren't as big a part of Nintendo consoles as they are on Sony and Microsoft ones. Until now, Nintendo's online services have been free, and also kinda janky. In any case, we did know about the Miiverse by mid-June 2012 — the Wii U would drop on November 18 of that year. By September 14, we also knew that Miiverse would feel more like a social network than a matchmaking service.

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How Virtual Console Could Make The Switch A Must-Own

Nintendo has yet to say anything about how the Switch will approach classic games, which means there's still hope that they won't screw it up. Very slight hope. But we'll take what we can get.

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As for Virtual Console, we knew that the Wii U's version of the classic game service would allow you to transfer your old Wii VC purchases by June 2012. With the Wii U release in November, that means we had we had concrete information on this key feature five months prior.

Regarding the Virtual Console on the Switch, Reggie Fils-Aime has said that more information will come "at a later date", and also that the introduction of the Nintendo Account has the potential to tie purchases to a particular user. Compared to what we knew about Virtual Console for the Wii U this close to its release, that's pretty lacking in substance.

Information about the PlayStation 4's paid online service and achievement system were revealed at Sony's E3 press conference in 2013. Some information was clarified closer to release, specifically that the PS4's online service wouldn't stick streaming video sites like Netflix behind a paywall, but for the most part, once E3 was over this information was in the wild. Backwards compatibility was slightly more vague. Backwards compatibility was mentioned at E3, and by September 2013, we knew that Sony intended to make the PS3 library playable via Gaikai streaming the following year. The console was set to drop 13 November 2013 — again, most of the above information was in the wild five months in advance.

Similarly, Microsoft dropped most of the vital information about the Xbox One at their June 2013 E3 press conference, including information about Xbox Live and changes to the achievements system.

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Unlike Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft did not emphasise any kind of backwards compatibility — the console wouldn't be able to play 360 games until June 2015 — but Microsoft did claim it would continue to invest in the 360 to push it into new markets. The console released 22 November 2013.

Looking at this information in aggregate is kind of worrying — it seems like five months before release, we knew a lot more about the Wii U, the PS4 and the Xbox One. But what's especially worrying is the lack of information on Virtual Console, which is a key feature specifically for Nintendo consoles, and could make the Switch a must buy. If you just want a Zelda machine, you already know everything you need to know for now. But compared to previous consoles, the Switch appears to be built on a foundation of hype more than anything else.


    Gita hits on the reason why in this article, both the current gen consoles had E3 presentations before their releases in the same year.

    What's forgotten is that they also had bally-hooed 'events' to initially unveil them to the public, live-streamed by the companies themselves (I remember watching Sony's).

    Then of course who could forget that after E3, Microsoft had its 'script' exposed by game journalists reporting about the Xbox One's course correction before launch anyway.

    This is all relative, but the point is the Switch is not going to have the 'luxury' of what we all understand is the traditional trajectory a console launch could or 'should' have.

    I guess it's going to be up to the quality of the games.

      The biggest concern I have is why are Nintendo constantly saying that this is a console and not a portable. Where clearly most anyone who has rationalized purchasing a Switch has probably done so on the back that it's a pretty sweet portable. I mean shit......even I think it looks like a pretty awesome portable. But the fact remains that the people who know best, the ones who have designed this thing......think it is a console 1st, portable 2nd. Why? What do we not yet know?

      I would hazard a guess that I would rarely even dock this thing at all, except maybe to charge.

        Because they've said that it's not going to replace the 3DS line, and they're targeting it as a replacement/successor for the Wii U, so they're marketing it as a console first, and a portable second.

          I got the chance to play it at PAX South and it was definitely easier to play in console mode. The tablet mode makes it too heavy to be comfortable.
          It's easy enough to switch between them but the feature seemed like it came with too many drawbacks.

        Nintendo said that Nintendo Switch Is A Handheld First Then A Console So This is Kinda Just A New And very Powerful DS that you can hook up to the tv

    Maybe Nintendo have worked out that the majority of people who buy consoles (especially, but not just, their consoles) don't watch pre-launch events, don't watch E3, and don't know the finer details of spec and capability before purchasing a console.

    Same with most other things...

    Not saying that people shouldn't be more informed, but the infos been there for previous consoles and the majority of the buying public either didn't know or didn't care.

      Wii U sales would suggest that many of their assumptions are incorrect.

    I don't see it as a big problem. If lack of answers to these questions are going to impact on your purchasing decision then just hold off on buying one until you get the answers you need. It'll be out in the wild pretty soon, at which point all of this information will be out there.

    Probably want to keep their cards close to their chest with the negative opinions going around. Hopefully they will work out better integrated social systems before release.

    Considering what has leaked is worrisome, I'm not surprised Nintendo is keeping its cards close to its chest.

      What are you referring to?

        The big one was MM and Chat being done thru an app on your phone was probably the topper. Battery life and year one titles were also underwhelming.

        Last edited 07/02/17 1:05 pm

          Battery life of 3 to 6 hours is underwhelming?

          I think MM and Chat being done only through the phone app is still uncertain, being able to do them through the phone app, yes.

          Year one title release where we get a Nintendo game every quarter, or do you mean 3rd party games?

          Zelda, Splatoon 2, Open World Mario seem like pretty great yr 1 titles. Battery life was within what most people expected. The needing an app is a tiny bit odd to be fair.

          Regardless, they've basically sold out of preorders the world over, so I'd say they're doing fine.

            Zelda's on Wii U (or CEMU cough cough :P), Splatoon I never got into, but it might be a draw for some? Outside of those, we have very little titles confirmed for the year. Maybe 3rd parties will pick up the slack (and some better timelines might change my attitude), but devcosts for the Switch are high in this age of multiplatform (different architecture and dramatically lower performance budget).

            As for battery life, Nintendo mentioned 2 hours battery for Zelda. I assume the 6 hour total would be probably playing Virtual Console NES titles.

              battery life will range from two-and-a-half hours (2.5 hours) up to six hours (6 hours), depending on the graphics requirements of the game being played

              Sure some of the games listed below are ports from already released/wii u games, they're still games being launched.

              The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo, March 3rd)
              1-2-Switch (Nintendo, March 3rd)
              Just Dance 2017 (Ubisoft, March 3rd)
              Skylanders Imaginators (Activision, March 3rd)
              Super Bomberman R (Konami, March 3rd)
              Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ (Nicalis, March 3rd in the US)
              I Am Satsuna (Square Enix, March 3rd)
              Snipperclips - Cut it out, together! (March 2017)
              Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (April 28)
              ARMS (Spring 2017)
              Splatoon 2 (Summer 2017)
              Fire Emblem Warriors (autumn 2017)
              Pokémon Stars (late 2017)
              Super Mario Odyssey (holiday 2017)
              Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (TBC)
              New Fire Emblem (2018)

              Fast RMX (Shin'en, March 2017)
              Has Been Heroes (Frozenbyte, March 2017)
              Rime (Tequila Works, May 2017)
              Disgaea 5 Complete (NIS America, Spring 2017)
              LEGO City Undercover (Warner Bros, Spring 2017)
              Puyo Puyo Tetris (SEGA, Spring 2017)
              Sonic Mania (SEGA, Spring 2017)
              Snake Pass (Sumo Digital, early 2017)
              Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda, late 2017)
              NBA 2K18 (2K, September 2017)
              Project Sonic 2017 (SEGA, late 2017)
              Shovel Knight (Yacht Club Games, 2017)
              Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap (DotEmu, 2017)
              Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (FDG Entertainment, 2017)
              1001 Spikes (Nicalis, TBC)
              Arcade Archives (Hamster, TBC)
              Cave Story (Nicalis, TBC)
              Constructor (System 3, TBC)
              Cube Life: Island Survival (Cypronia, TBC)
              Dragon Quest X (Square Enix, TBC)
              Dragon Quest XI (Square Enix, TBC)
              Dragon Quest Heroes I and II (Square Enix, TBC)
              Dragonball Xenoverse 2 (Namco Bandai, TBC)
              EA Sports FIFA (EA, TBC)
              Farming Simulator (Focus Home Interactive, TBC)
              Graceful Explosion Machine (Vertex Pop, TBC)
              LEGO Worlds (TT Games, TBC)
              Minecraft: Story Mode - The Compete Adventure (Telltale Games, TBC)
              Rayman Legends: Definite Edition (Ubisoft, TBC)
              Redout (34BigThings, TBC)
              Seasons of Heaven (AnyAny Productions, TBC)
              New Shin Megami Tensei (Atlas, Western release unconfirmed)
              Stardew Valley (Chucklefish Games, TBC)
              State of Mind (Daedalic Entertainment, TBC)
              Steep (Ubisoft, TBC)
              Syberia 3 (Microids, TBC)
              Project Octopath Traveller (Square Enix, TBC)
              Taiko Drum Master (Namco Bandai, TBC)
              New Travis Touchdown game (Suda 51 / Grasshopper, TBC)
              New 'Tales of' RPG (Namco BandaiTBC)
              Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers (Capcom, TBC)

              Last edited 07/02/17 2:06 pm

              Zelda is on Wii U in the same way that Zelda was on GC - watch as the version for the Wii U gets an inexplicable last minute delay, leaving the Switch version as the only way to play the game for months.

          Uh... how is that a leak exactly? All of those are things they've revealed themselves. Or are we changing what "leak" means now?

    I think you all need to just chill out. It's not like you HAVE to get the console at launch.. Just wait a week - if that. You'll get all the information then.

      Well... a week is a little optimistic. First shipment is beyond sold out everywhere, and second shipment is well on its way to the same, if it's not already. Waiting until after launch means a month or two minimum, unless you find a second-hand one, which will sell for a premium.

      Still, no real harm in waiting for more information/reviews.

    Nintendo are focused on the games they're launching and don't care about their hardware/platform.

      Yes, but history tells us that certain information about the system will directly impact the type and quantity of games we will see on the Switch. Hence is very relevant.

      I don't buy a console for a single game, I'll buy a console for value over the life of that console. I bought a Wii U day one, and was consistently told lies by Nintendo for a few years, then suddenly game development for the console dried up completely, and they moved on.

    So were not entitled to vital consumer information the day of release ? is that seriously what some commenters are advocating ?
    Ready for jobs in PR for unscrupulous companies they are. Just like Nintendo, and the rest.

    Just tells you how rushed the Switch is.
    I would seriously wait for at least a year, or the next big price drop.

    Someone should take away all hardware decision making from Nintendo Japan. They are a joke. Looks like hardware suicide to me. And after the disaster of the Wii U, It's astonishing.

      I think they're more suggesting that if you don't get that information then you shouldn't buy it, which seems fair to me.

      Ideally that information should be out early enough to allow consumers who want it day 1 to make an informed purchase but if they don't then people just shouldn't buy it until they know enough.

      That said if you just want to play zelda and you're happy with that cost of entry then I suppose they've given this consumers enough to make their decision.

    If it has the games you want, then you buy it, if it doesn't, you don't.
    Eberything else is ancilliary, and you don't have to buy it on day one, you can you know, wait a bit and see what people think of it after it is out.

    I like surprises. Can't we have some of those occasionally?

      You really want a surprise when you are putting down this kind of cash? I prefer to be informed when I am making purchasing decisions, must be just be.

        It's a Nintendo console with Nintendo games. What more is there?

    This right here is the problem - everything is always being compared to how Sony and Microsoft do everything. It didn't work for them with the Wii U so why do the same thing? Heck if you believe the sales difference between MS and Sony this gen, then its not working for MS either.

    Yes there is still things we need to know - but by now you have all the important information you need to make a decision. As they stated - they will discuss more about VC in the coming weeks.

    All I need know is its a very capable system I can play at home, and continue my gaming on the road. Everything else is just click bait right now and the usual "Nintendoom" rubbish.

    I can't imagine that there are many undecideds out there - it's a portable Nintendo console. Depending on who you are that is either an insta-buy on day 1 or it holds zero interest for you. If you're in the latter camp like me then knowing about trophies or any of that stuff isn't going to sway your opinion. I think the only piece of information that could change your mind would be a long term game release schedule, but we're not going to get that by launch date anyway.

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