With the Switch, Nintendo May Be the New Mobile King

The Switch is more than just a new system; it's Nintendo's continued effort to dominate the more casual market. 


Smartphones have been a disruptor in many facets of our daily lives. They’ve offered a more convenient (and often more affordable) alternative to physical media, streamlined communication, and have created a vast market of developers and designers dedicated to creating apps for everything from grocery shopping to managing the number of hours one sleeps in a night.

They’ve especially been troublesome for game manufacturers, particularly for those companies who still produce dedicated portable gaming systems like the 3DS and the PlayStation Vita. With our insistence on rolling all of our needs up into one device, the relevance for a separate device dedicated solely to gaming has slowly inched toward irrelevancy, declining as our dependence on smart devices continues to grow.

But with the Switch, Nintendo may have just proven something huge: it may have found a way to both compete with and dominate the mobile market, a have-your-cake-and-eat-it play unlike anything we’ve seen before.

You know the Switch. It was revealed yesterday, the official name of the long-rumored Nintendo NX, the handheld/console hybrid system so many had predicted it to be. Using a docking station connected to a television, the console has the capacity to be both a home system and, by attaching controller peripherals to the side of its removable screen and system, a portable machine with seemingly impressive visual fidelity.

The Switch is more than just a system for long flights or drives, however. It also is easily adaptable for local play with others, appears to have a similar fidelity to the home console unit, and is assumed to play everything the console can. It’s fulfilling the dream of Sony’s ill-fated PlayStation Vita by being a truly anytime, anywhere gaming console.

This is huge, and if the marketing is done right, it could prove to be a very successful step forward on Nintendo’s part. If they’re able to sell the Switch to their target users, they’ll be on their way toward completely dominating the mobile market.

And I don’t just mean with a new console. Since early this year, Nintendo has been moving things gradually toward mobile, enjoying breakout success with Miitomo and Pokemon Go. The recent announcement of a Mario game on smartphones was also a massive reveal that could potentially continue its long-running success streak on mobile when it releases over the next few months. With Mario on the horizon and talk of an eventual Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem game coming to mobile, Nintendo is slowly growing its footprint on the market in an unprecedented way.

The brilliance of all of this is found in the way that Nintendo has essentially both asked and answered the question of how a dedicated handheld system can survive in today’s market and gaming environment. How will something like the 3DS maintain relevancy as smartphones iterate and adapt, and how will it continue to bring in new users to their platform?

The simplicity of their approach is something beautiful. They don’t want to compete with it. Instead, it’ll just step in and take up a large slice of both pies. It’s a crazy notion, but it makes so much sense in practice. Nintendo has long been a company focused on delivering products to both the enthusiast and casual markets, releasing approachable Mario games and hardened JRPGs on the same system. It is the exception, the rare rebuttal to the long-held belief that you “can't please everyone.”

Not long ago, hyperbolic cries of mobile being the death knell of portable and console video games were the source of many think pieces, Tweetstorms, and forum posts. With the rise of smaller, more affordable apps capable of playing games on this small all-in-one device, how could game publishers and manufacturers possibly compete?

Nintendo’s answer is simple: it doesn’t have to.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 22, 2016 10:00 AM

    Cassidee Moser posted a new article, With the Switch, Nintendo May Be the New Mobile King

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      October 22, 2016 12:41 PM

      Having a portable with built in co-op capability using a single system is going to awesome. Nice article. I liked it. Two thumbs up.

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      October 22, 2016 1:19 PM

      yah if they market this right it could be massive... i know they are saying it's not going to replace the 3DS. But if they play their cards right it certainly could!

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        October 22, 2016 2:03 PM

        It is going to replace the 3DS. I think they're just trying to not stifle sales by calling it the successor. They did the same thing when the DS launched. Called it the "third pillar", but the whole point of the Switch is to get rid of the pillars entirely. Success or failure, it'll be interesting to see how they move on from this system or upgrade it down the line. Feasibly they could release a "true" 3DS successor that may take on a more traditional look in a year or so that plays Switch games, but is entirely dedicated to just the portable side. Or something like this.

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          October 22, 2016 2:11 PM

          Yeah, if they go out and say it's replacing the 3DS, then they lose a lot of Pokémon sales next month.

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          October 22, 2016 3:34 PM

          Nintendo will still operate according to pillars. Instead of consoles and handhelds, they're consolidating those and adding mobile games like Pokémon Go (they didn't develop it but they're getting the largest piece of the pie) and the forthcoming Mario runner.

          Merchandise constitutes another pillar: amiibos, licenses for clothes, etc.

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      October 22, 2016 1:28 PM


    • Zek legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
      October 22, 2016 1:29 PM

      I'm excited about the Switch but I don't think it actually competes in the mobile space. There's a reason why Nintendo is also making mobile games now. The Switch is less portable than the 3DS was, and the 3DS was already losing to mobile. There's no comparison between playing a game on the phone you always have with you, and playing a game on a video-games-only tablet you have to lug around. So it's more of a portable home console than it is a mobile replacement.

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      October 22, 2016 2:37 PM

      Am I the only one that thinks that by not consolidating their entire library into this device, it's only a half measure? As I said in another thread, it's non-trivial, but I think that's the one move that would seal the deal in its adoption.

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        October 22, 2016 3:17 PM

        How do you mean? Their opening video shows that they're working hard to bring the titles that are currently successful on Wii U to the new system in some fashion. Do you mean 3DS titles still coming out after this is released?

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        October 22, 2016 3:26 PM

        They're playing it safe. Let it build, and then let the other tiers die as it grows. The death knell will be a non-spin-off Pokemon exclusive.

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        October 22, 2016 3:37 PM

        I'm not sure what you mean. That's what they're doing. Nintendo restructured all their development teams to focus solely on this platform. There is no more mobile vs console, it's just Switch. That's the best part. And you know they're going to beef up their Virtual Console again so the library is going to be ridiculous, at least eventually if not right from the start.

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          October 22, 2016 4:02 PM

          Oh, awesome. I wasn't aware that's what they were doing. I recall them placating 3DS owners yesterday somehow...

          So just to clarify, they're getting rid of 3DS making this the only Nintendo platform, and opening up their entire library to the Switch?

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            October 22, 2016 5:21 PM

            They haven't released a statement on that as they still have 3DS games coming out. They don't want to seem like they're abandoning it.

            Most people would surmise that though, as it makes the console incredibly attractive for both developers and users if it has that dual purpose.

            It would be weird to have a competing handheld come out a few years after, unless it was just a mini version of the Switch purely for mobile gaming.

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        October 22, 2016 4:58 PM

        I kinda said as much in another thread. It's going to happen. Way easier to develop a catalog for a single platform. But, there are concerns how well this can compete against phones to really be the portable gaming chap. Can't really slip the tablet half into your pocket like a phone. I expect at least that these will all be full games and not mini games like we seem to get in mobile. I'm so tired of retread of Backyard Monsters (which was the first game of that genre I played).

        I'm half excited about Switch if it means we'll get full games in a mobile platform instead of simple grind-fests and time-sink games.

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      October 22, 2016 3:14 PM

      I'm curious what their offerings will look like within their OS, and how app support will be for non-gaming. It will be a great mobile gaming device no doubt, but to be a great mobile electronics device comparable to other offerings they'll need quite a bit. I'm sure app support will largely depend on how many people buy it, but also on ease of development. Their developer portal got a revamp recently, I'm sure we'll find out more via that as we get closer to launch?

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        October 22, 2016 3:41 PM

        What all do they really need to offer? A browser and a Netflix app?

    • DM7 legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
      October 22, 2016 3:46 PM

      Could you imagine a co-op Advance Wars? Perfect on road trips or something. Omggggg But they need to make a new Advance Wars. :(

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        October 22, 2016 4:05 PM

        AGREED! I prefer the more light hearted approach of the the first 3 games compared to the last game that came out.

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        October 22, 2016 4:17 PM

        I member Advance Wars.

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        October 22, 2016 5:04 PM

        Yes. But, I'd also love to see a new Rocket Slim. Co-op would trigger me to buy a Switch.

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