Though the recent Nintendo Switch Direct gave us glimpses of highly anticipated titles like Pokemon Sword and Shield and Animal Crossing New Horizons and new games like Rogue Company and Deadly Premonition 2, part of the presentation was alarming. In between these titles, one couldn’t help but notice all the ports and remasters announced for the system, some of which have existed on other consoles for years now. Seeing as how the competition is expected to become more intense in 2020, the following are a few reasons why Nintendo should start showing off more first-party software and newer titles in its showcases going forward.
The next PlayStation and Xbox are approaching fast
There’s a strong likelihood that the next generation of PlayStation and Xbox consoles will launch sometime during 2020’s fourth quarter, as Sony and Microsoft have been gradually sharing details on their new systems for a while now. Backwards compatibility, SSD storage, 8K gameplay, and ray tracing have been confirmed for the former, while 1 TB of internal storage, 16 GB of RAM, and streaming capabilities have been rumored for the latter.
If history serves any indication, it’s safe to assume that Sony and Microsoft’s new hardware will be significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. This could spell trouble for Nintendo, as these systems will only further highlight the technological disparity between Switch and its competitors. Switch’s hybrid functionality may confer a unique benefit, but when it comes to practicality, chances are most consumers will purchase only one machine every couple of years and use it as their go-to gaming device until the next generation arrives.
In order to combat criticism directed toward Switch’s specs, Nintendo may opt to finally launch its long-rumored Switch Pro. More storage, an OLED screen, and better battery life when in portable mode could help entice people who haven’t yet bought the console to pick it up. Releasing the mid-generation upgrade before the 2020 holiday season could help undercut the popularity of Sony and Microsoft’s new machines next year and maintain Nintendo’s share of voice among the community. Losing some of the market may be inevitable, but remaining a part of the conversation is an important task that the company needs to keep on top off.
Many exclusives are niche
While games like Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition and Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore may turn out just as great their original versions on Wii and Wii U, respectively, sales numbers prove they probably won’t garner as much attention as titles that are releasing for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Long-awaited games like Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Cyberpunk 2077 will likely dominate consumer discussion early next year, and Nintendo will have no way of being a part of it because the titles aren’t releasing for Switch.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the only confirmed 2020 Switch title that has potential to reach mass appeal. And most other exclusives coming out for the system next year probably won’t reach the same level of popularity as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey simply because they’re not as well known. High review scores and strong marketing campaigns may help move units, but remakes of stylized anime games probably won’t keep Switch in the limelight.
Though ports are always welcome on the Switch when accompanied with original titles, multiplayer-centric games can highlight how the console is still regarded as an afterthought for third-party developers and publishers. In the case with Overwatch (a game that Blizzard clearly only decided to bring to Switch after Diablo 3‘s success on the system), Twitch numbers indicate that its multiplayer community has dwindled significantly since launch. The title’s popularity will undoubtedly sink further from here, especially with more online software launching in the near future.
Nintendo needs more thriving multiplayer communities on Switch, as this is what will keep many fans glued to the platform. Free-to-play offerings like Fortnite and Warframe are a great start, but titles like Final Fantasy 14 and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege would be icing on the cake. Hearthstone in particular seems like a natural fit for the hybrid, as players could interact with cards via the system’s touchscreen and take intense, strategic battles with them on the go. If Overwatch sells well, then Hearthstone most definitely needs to be the next title that Blizzard need to port to Switch as it could more easily match the system’s strengths.
While this may be slightly out of the realm of possibility to Switch’s hardware limitations, having further Call of Duty, Watch Dogs, and Tom Clancy titles release simultaneously with their counterparts on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One would be nice, too. Better yet, Nintendo could convince publishers like Activision and Ubisoft to create multiplayer-centric spin-offs for each franchise on Switch. Players from these titles could interact with fans on other systems via cross-play, ultimately giving the impression that the hybrid is just as technologically impressive as its competitors. Tetris 99 is great but other games need to make that subscription price worth it for players.
Of course, there’s a good chance that Nintendo already has a few surprises planned that will help the Switch maintain popularity. A new core Mario Kart entry, Metroid Prime 4, or Breath of the Wild 2 come to mind. Regardless of what’s in the pipeline, here’s hoping that Nintendo’s hybrid console remains something worth taking everywhere in 2020.