Are Nintendo Exclusives Enough to Win the Next Generation Laptop War?

Image: Nintendo

When it comes to the world of entertainment technology, everyone loves to stay ahead of themselves. This will be the “next big thing” until about a year, when it becomes apparent that the technology is not ready yet. Augmented reality and virtual reality are good examples; it’s exciting tech with some great games and a few big success stories, but most gamers around the world are still playing on flat screens with controllers (or on their smartphones / tablets’ touchscreens). There have been fantastic innovations and shifts in the market over the past five years, but in fact, the mainstream scene continues to move along with many of the same conventions.

This is also evident from the talk about Nintendo and Switch. Every time a new hybrid / handheld device comes out, people wonder if it will disrupt the Switch-driven sector of the gaming market. However, to date, none of them have been and most likely will not be in the next year or two, at least for several reasons.

These devices are often small and not targeted at the mass market, and frankly targeted at a niche audience who just love the Switch comparison. This $ 1,200 laptop is a good example of a device that offers a compelling insight into a hypothetical switch that isn’t tied to boring mainstream practices like reasonable pricing or decent battery life. One device that looks like the Switch and defies the trend. small is Valve’s Steam Deck trying to offer a reasonable price range with a call to play huge Steam libraries on the go.

However, there are several reasons why the deck / switch comparison is inappropriate. One is Valve’s intent on the device – even Deck’s most ardent supporters can see it’s not aimed at massive impact, at least not in this early form. Not only has procurement been limited to Valve’s own platform, but manufacturing and logistics issues mean that even existing pre-order deliveries have been pushed back to 2022.

For clarity, this is not a criticism, but an assessment of what Valve is trying to achieve with the Steam Deck. He sets the stage and tests the water, seeing the handheld gaming equipment business running, and keeps Steam high on the conversation, while wealthy companies like Epic try to curtail Steam’s incredible digital monopoly. For Valve and its most ardent supporters, the Steam Deck is fun and, yes, addicting.

Steam Deck 2
Image: Valve

However, as a suggestion, this is not a direct challenge to the Nintendo or Switch approach. First, Valve clarified that There will be no exclusives in the decksaying, “This is a PC and it should just play games like a PC.” This is not surprising at all, but another reminder of what this device is trying to achieve. It’s not a platform, Steam is a platform. The Deck is simply hardware manufactured by Valve that showcases just how far laptop technology has come. Steam is an immensely popular store that continues to be the leader in PC and Mac gaming and, as the company has made clear, Deck is not shifting that focus; anyway, this is to remind people that they are probably sitting in the huge Steam library with Humble Bundle support, that they could play on the go with this kit.

Branded Nintendo franchises often stand out as v a key differentiator, but the power of the franchise alone isn’t enough … Switch touches on some other key areas that are just as important as games

The lack of exclusives is clearly very different from the battle usually fought by Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. The Switch’s technology (and of all Nintendo hardware since the GameCube) means that its exclusives are not tech showcases, but their appeal is determined by their other qualities, the fact that they are often unique to the market and use iconic IPs. Nintendo continues to keep its premium recordings across franchises like Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, Metroid, and Pokémon exclusively on its hardware. In some cases, there are additional games and alternative games for mobile devices, but the famous “major” releases remain exclusive to consoles. These games are important for arousing the initial noise – for example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild made at launch – and then to maintain momentum as a generation progressed.

Of course, Nintendo is constantly under scrutiny in a broader sense as similar “hybrid” concepts and products emerge, whether they are full-size devices or handles / controllers for phones. Beyond the exclusives, the Switch’s offering has key strengths that collectively have contributed to its leading market position despite the sporadic emergence of “competitors” and the continued opening of iOS and Android games to support controllers and TV games.

Branded Nintendo franchises often stand out as v a key differentiator, but franchise power alone isn’t enough, as low-end systems like the Wii U and even the GameCube demonstrate. Switch touches on some other key areas that are just as important as games – accessibility and ease of use are key. A significant number of players of all types are looking for gaming systems with reasonable prices and intuitive interfaces. Computer games may be the pinnacle in terms of graphical perception, but they are not. simple or affordable… Consoles tend to be both, and in the case of the Switch, it provides a hybrid setup perfect for TV or handheld gaming, has readily available games, and technically offers multiplayer options and controller flexibility right out of the box. There are a few different tricks up its sleeve, but they all have a clear and intuitive setup.

Change family
Image: Nintendo

Affordability and affordable prices also play an important role in another key market – households and families. There’s a reason Nintendo’s current ads revolve around smiling families in living rooms, or perhaps inspiring photogenic young people playing the Switch as they drive home for the holidays. This isn’t just quantitative marketing, it reflects the fact that Nintendo data is likely identifying these consumers as extremely valuable to what the Switch has to offer. It is also a system with many family oriented games or more complex games that are colorful and “safe” nonetheless. After all, Nintendo considers a shooter Splatoon 2

Perhaps Nintendo is now in a more difficult situation for its next system in terms of “making the right decision.”

And nowadays these are areas where “rivals” that are talked about and then forgotten about, are lagging far behind. They are not on the mainstream market and lack the vital combination of thoughtful design, affordability, affordability, and exclusive games.

However, it is important to remember that Nintendo cannot afford to be overconfident or slide into the boom-bust pattern that the entire Big Three have experienced from generation to generation. Perhaps Nintendo is now in a more difficult situation for its next system in terms of “making the right decision.” Unlike past generations, Nintendo cannot support an ineffective home console with the sale of its popular handheld device. The one system model is extremely profitable and profitable when it works like a Switch, but if one platform fails, it will be a tricky scenario.

Qualcomm Portable
Image: Qualcomm

And while Nintendo’s competition in the hybrid space doesn’t pose much of a threat right now, there are signs that some may be planning to make a breakthrough, even if that happens in a few years. Valve is not only testing the water, but major mobile chip maker Qualcomm is producing a developer / concept device, no doubt intended to showcase its portable performance as a showcase to large companies and platform holders; similar to how NVIDIA Shield devices likely caught Nintendo’s attention due to the Switch opting for the Tegra X1 GPU. Add to that the endless rumors that companies like Apple and Microsoft are allegedly exploring these areas. Much of this buzz also appears to revolve around the cloud, with the idea that increased access to 4G and 5G in the coming years will open up streaming technologies to potentially billions of players.

The Switch is the only major product to occupy this particular market area right now, which helps explain why it still moves over 20 million units a year. However, Nintendo’s next move will be critical not only to maintain the momentum generated by the Switch, but also to understand trends and take on future rivals. So when you see headlines about devastating hybrid devices that will “challenge” the Switch, look beyond the exaggeration and look a few years ahead – this is where Nintendo’s biggest problems lie.

However, don’t bet against a company that still comes out on top; History shows that Nintendo is full of surprises and very resilient.

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