The Legend of Zelda to Miss Switch Launch; Does This Spell Doom for the Switch?
The latest news on the Nintendo Switch is that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will not be launching with the console in March as most people had assumed. Instead, Breath of the Wild may not hit stores until as late as Q3 2017. This is a game we touted as being Nintendo’s biggest saving grace coming into their next generation so this absence could certainly sting. While a few more months may not seem like too long of a wait for most people, I’m left wondering what incentives are left to buy the Switch day one? More importantly, does a lack of quality launch titles make for a disastrous debut for Nintendo’s new console?
The launch for the Nintendo Switch is fast approaching and with Zelda not joining the console on release, what’s left is a frightening lack of titles confirmed for launch day. No games of yet have been confirmed and aside from announced I.P.s we have very little to go on. Game Freak has announced a Pokémon title and we can assume a Mario sports or party game will debut with or shortly after launch. Unfortunately, nothing yet has been confirmed. What has been confirmed doesn’t leave much to be desired. Just Dance 2017, Tank it!, and Dragon Quest X are among the titles that we know are coming. Maybe this is just me, but those are not convincing me to shell out hundreds of dollars this March.
If we look back at the last three Nintendo console launches (the GameCube, Wii, and Wii U), each came packing an A-list title to promote sales. The GameCube came sporting Luigi’s Mansion, the Wii had The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and the Wii U had New Super Mario Bros. U. All three of these consoles also came sporting multi-platform titles to support launch. Of those three consoles, the Nintendo Wii, by far, sold the most units. It is also the only console of the three that launched with a Zelda title in tow. With the Switch’s release just over 3 months away I’m left wondering how it’s going to succeed out the gate.
Looking more in depth to previous console releases, Nintendo’s handheld systems have proved far better sellers overall. The Nintendo DS, Gameboy Advance, and 3DS have all outsold the Wii U and the GameCube. Perhaps this is an advantage for the Switch. The debut trailer for the console showed a heavy focus on the portable aspect of the system and rightly so, this feature is what drew me to the console immediately. With that in mind, I’m surprised Nintendo hasn’t decided to accompany the Switch with the handheld consoles most popular selling I.P., Pokémon. While Game Freak has announced that a title will be released with the Switch at some point, we can assume that it will be nowhere near the March launch date.
There is one saving grace for the Switch. Accompanying the rumor of the Q3 release of Breath of the Wild came the suggestion that a major Mario title could be replacing Zelda at launch. Both the GameCube and the Wii U had Mario titles at launch (I suppose the GameCube had a Luigi title, but I digress) but is that necessarily a good thing? Neither the GameCube nor the Wii U performed overly well in the grand scheme of things, being in the bottom three worst selling consoles in Nintendo’s history (only performing better than the Color TV Game so let that sink in). That being said, the GameCube and the Wii U had the disadvantage of not having a clever gimmick alongside. The Wii and the Nintendo DS sold well due to, in part, the “revolutionary” new gameplay mechanics Motion controls and two screens respectively) This is where the Switch has the advantage. The new mobile-focused aspect of play can only work to promote sales.
After looking at these past trends I’m still torn on the fate of the Switch. The loss of Breath of the Wild is a huge hit to the console’s potential success. However, I do believe that with some good marketing, focusing more on the different utilities of the console, and an epic Mario trailer (Maybe even the addition of a Kart or Party entry) the Switch will perform just fine. Nintendo is a company that is alive because of its I.P.s and as long as they keep pumping out titles with Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon in the names, the Switch will survive alongside the PSPro and Xbox Scorpio.