If the sudden wave of unboxing videos is any indication, the Nintendo Switch is beginning to make its way into the wild, in preparation for its March 3rd launch date.
After leafing through the many ‘first impression’ articles that have flooded the Internet, the general consensus is that the hardware design and quality are on point (aside from some issues with Joy-Con connectivity when not in handheld mode). For the most part, the Switch seems to be ready for prime time…but is Nintendo?
Consider the following:
- The Switch will require a day-one patch right out of the gate. This isn’t terribly surprising, until you note all the features this update includes:
- “Access to network features, such as Nintendo eShop, online gameplay, ability to share images to social media, etc.”
- “Ability to link Nintendo Accounts to your Nintendo Switch console.”
In other words, the patch covers everything the Switch can do except actually play the games. How is it that none of this stuff ready before the Switch’s software build was finalized? (It’s nice to know, however, that Nintendo has at least thought about how to handle accessing Wi-Fi that is protected by a captive portal, so maybe a browser isn’t a necessity after all.)
- Nintendo’s Virtual Console service will also not be ready by March 3rd. So much for hoping VC games could help cover for the Switch’s paper-thin launch lineup…
These issues suggest that Nintendo locked themselves into an aggressive timeline with their March 3rd release date, and is now scrambling to get everything ready in time. While it’s too late now to renege on this timeframe, it still makes me wonder: Why did they put themselves in this position to start with?
- Back when the release date was “March 2017,” a lot of outlets speculated that March 17th would be the date selected by Nintendo. They could have easily pushed the release back two weeks without encountering much resistance.
- A bigger question: What’s the importance of March? While I still think Nintendo had to release the Switch this year, they could have easily pushed the launch back to April or May without sacrificing too much revenue, and this would have given the company more time to sort out its many online questions. (It would also have the nice side effect of strengthening the Switch’s launch lineup—suddenly ARMS and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are launch titles!)
Unfortunately for Nintendo, the die is cast at this point, and they will have to suffer through whatever hiccups its 3/3 launch date imposes. Consumers still have a choice, however, and if you aren’t a diehard Zelda fan, you may want to hold off on immediately buying a Switch, and instead give Nintendo a month or two to sort out its launch headaches.