A reader argues that Nintendo’s biggest problem is its failure to spend enough of its profits on making games look better.
So, Nintendo claims it’s not releasing a new model of the Switch this year, Switch Pro or otherwise. I can’t say I’m surprised. A more powerful Switch is exactly what fans have been calling for and that alone guarantees Nintendo would never do it. Not that I’m suggesting Nintendo isn’t often proven right, but if you think any idea is obvious then there’s very little chance that Nintendo do as well.
As a company, they march to their own beat and that’s why they’re so great, so I wouldn’t necessarily change anything about them in that sense. What I do wish would change though is their willingness to spend money. Especially given they have so much of it. Just recently we’ve found out they’ve made $1 billion from mobile games and the Switch has already sold over 50 million consoles and 310 million games. So… where does all that money go?
GameCentral themselves have got very frustrated with how cheap games like Pokémon Sword/Shield and Fire Emblem: Three Houses look, and I don’t blame them. Considering how impressive games like Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Yoshi’s Crafted World are they seem like they’re from another system. Not only are they artistically and technically weak but they’ve actively cheap-looking. It’s not that the Switch isn’t more powerful that’s stopping these games from looking better, it’s because Nintendo isn’t giving them the money and/or the manpower needed.
Zelda: Breath Of The Wild still looks better than 50% of Switch games and that was made for the Wii U! This shouldn’t happen, especially when the games are major hits and absolutely justify having money spent on them. As ever with Nintendo it’s very hard to understand the reasoning behind it. Why was so much money spent on those games but not Pokémon? I’m sure Pokémon wasn’t cheap to make but on a technical level it’s probably the least impressive first party game on the system.
What looks good and what has the money spent on it seems random and while Nintendo doing their own thing is important, they often take their penny-pinching too far. Having a free online service was the perfect cover for it not being that good, but now you have to pay for it and things like Pokémon Home are £15 a year. And then they’ll turn around and give away years of free content for something like Splatoon 2. There’s just no consistency.
Outside of the games themselves, consistency is arguably the biggest problem for Nintendo. They’re seemingly in a cycle of making one great console, followed by one flop, followed by a great one again. The most infamous is the Wii U, but so much of its failure was down to Nintendo being cheap and not spending the money where it was needed.
They stopped making major games for the Wii at least two years earlier than it made sense to, presumably because they put all their resources into the Wii U – but why not just splash the cash to do them both? And then once the Wii U came out it had next to no marketing, felt cheap and tacky, and had almost no games for two years. Nintendo could easily have funded more to avoid that or signed up third party titles, but they did nothing.
Now, you’d hope they wouldn’t make a mistake as big as the Wii U again but there’s no reason to bet against it, not when it’s the same core problem: a refusal to spend money to make money. If you’ve not got enough games coming out then set-up a new studio or buy an existing one. Not enough third party games? Then money hat yourself some good ones, that’s what Microsoft and Sony do and it’s a proven, effective tactic.
The Switch is already less powerful than its rivals and it’s going to look even more so next to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. But when some games look like high-res PlayStation 2 games and others have graphics that almost beat the PlayStation 4 you know there’s something going wrong. Particularly when most of these games are being done by Nintendo themselves and so can share all the same technology.
Nintendo are great at making money but they’re terrible at spending it and they’ve got to get past that. Other than that, I think the Switch can last many more years. But only if its games are funded well enough to reach their full potential.
By reader Coffey
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