Unless you are living under a rock you are aware that Nintendo will be hosting an event on January 13th in Japan to share all things Nintendo Switch. Nintendo revealed the brand new Home/Portable Hybrid console via a video back in October.
Nintendo has said very little about the Switch since the reveal in October citing that they will share all of the details at the January Event. We are now just a few days away from finding out all that Switch has to offer so I thought I’d run down my final predictions for Switch here.
#1 – Cost and Release Date
The console could fall anywhere from $199 to $399 but both of those extremes would be bad for Nintendo. The key here is install base. If the system sells, the games will come, so Nintendo has to get this unit off the shelves. While I think they could realistically hit the $200 mark, Nintendo has rarely, if ever, sold hardware at a loss. I expect the Nintendo Switch to retail for $249.99 msrp and to launch on Friday, March 17th.
#2 – Launch Software
Nintendo only worked on a handful of games released in 2016: Star Fox, Super Mario Maker 3D, Fire Emblem, etc. It’s clear from the last of big releases on both Wii U and 3DS that it’s teams are working on something. It would be safe to assume that “something” is the Nintendo Switch. I expect there to be several key titles ready to go for the Switch launch in March. I feel that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a lock for launch. Along with LoZ, I expect to get something from the Mario universe. While I don’t think that it will be the Mario game seen in the Switch reveal, but something different, maybe smaller. I also expect to see a key 3DS franchise show up for launch. Could be Pokemon Diamond, could be a new Fire Emblem, could be Picross, but no matter what it is I think Nintendo wants to show that the Switch has something to offer both home and handheld gamers. Finally, I think that it will also launch with the upgraded Wii U ports that have already been shown. Namely, Splatoon and Mario Kart. I think that Nintendo has plans for other Wii U titles, like Super Mario 3D World and Smash Bros, but I don’t think that they will all be available at launch. Splatoon and Mario Kart are both featured predominantly in the reveal video, so I think they are a safe bet to make launch. The last thing I will mention is that there will be a HUGE 3rd party title announced on the platform. There has been rumors that Beyond Good and Evil 2 will be a temporary exclusive on the Switch. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I think there will be something of that caliber show up for launch. Maybe a Bayonetta 3 or Skyrim Remastered or a Kingdom Hearts Collection or maybe it’s just a brand new IP. Regardless, there has to be a big 3rd party release scheduled at launch.
#4 – Other Software
I think that Nintendo will want to focus hard on the launch of the console so I don’t think we will see a ton of future games. Not to mention, E3 will just be a few months follow the release. However, I do anticipate that Nintendo will highlight several games just to assure fans that there is more on the way. One big misstep from Nintendo in the past is a release famine following launch. I really think Nintendo plans to avoid that this year. First up is Mario. Nintendo has already shown a snip of a new Mario game in the reveal trailer. I full expect that to be their big fall release on the platform, think November. I also expect that to headline their E3 presence. So, I don’t expect a lot of details, but I do expect a new video or short demo and a name following be, “and we will be sharing more at E3.” If I were guessing at a name, I would say Super Mario Universe…however I truly think it will be a unique name that is impossible to guess. Next up is Pokemon. There have been rumors of “Pokemon Stars” floating around for a while now and to be honest I’m not really sure where this goes. On one hand, The Pokemon Company has always said that there will never be a mainline release of the series on a home console because it’s made for handhelds and to be portable…”pocket” monsters and all. Also, if we get a prettier, nicer version of Pokemon on the Switch that can also play on our TV, I’m not sure what that does for the future of the series on the 3DS. So, if Nintendo does plan to keep the 3DS as a large part of their future, I could see Pokemon missing the Switch. BUT, I do believe that the 3DS has seen it’s time and the Switch is the future and there is no better way to solidify that fact then showing off your #1 handheld exclusive series on the Switch. “Pokemon Stars” showing up at the launch of Switch wouldn’t surprise me, but if it’s real I think it will be announced and/or shown and then release later this year. Finally, I think there will be a HUGE 3rd party announcement. Above I mentioned both Bayonetta 2 and Beyond Good and Evil 2. Both of these games would be a huge wins for Nintendo. Star Wars: Rogue One (a spiritual successor to the Rogue Squadron series) would be amazing. Minecraft, with all the Mario stuff and now Zelda and Metroid stuff. Whatever it is, Nintendo will have to showcase several 3rd party titles that will be coming to Switch within the first year.
#5 – Online Network and Virtual Console
Arguably, Nintendo’s biggest struggle is it’s Online Network and Services. From Friend’s codes to eShop to Virtual Console, the whole thing is a mess. I believe Nintendo will spend a considerable amount of time detailing what you can expect from the online network on the Switch. There have already been several steps in the right direction thanks to Nintendo’s partnership with DeNA. My Nintendo is the first. Giving you a web portal to track purchases and purchase games remotely that will trigger the download to your system of choice. Then, with the release on both Miitomo and Super Mario Run, the My Nintendo account also connects and allows you to not only track your achievements through the game but also earn points that you can redeem for in game content. All of this works right now and should give us a glimpse at what’s the come. The biggest issue for me is cloud saves. Earlier this year I had a 3DS die. I still have the memory card which as my hours and hours and hours of save data (90+ on Animal Crossing, 60+ AND my Pokemon from X/Y) however since the data is encrypted to the machine you played on there is no way for me to access that data again without a system transfer. So those hours and hours of play time are just lost, gone. Nintendo cannot keep living in the 1990’s. In September I picked up an Xbox One S, which I powered on, logged in and instantly began downloading all of the games that I’d purchased in the past. Then, when they were downloaded, I launched the game to find all of my save data in tact. Shoot, I even loaded up Mass Effect 1 via Backwards Compatibility on my Xbox One S and that save, from 2007, was available to play. Sorry for the rant, my prediction is that My Nintendo gets fully realized as part of the Nintendo Switch UI. Not only will it still allow you to earn coins which you can redeem, it will also link your account to everything you’ve purchased before. I believe that Nintendo will let you download any Virtual Console or Digital Only titles, both Wii U and 3DS, to be played on your Nintendo Switch for no additional cost. This brings me to my final prediction of this section which is that the Nintendo Switch will launch with one, master Virtual Console. The Virtual Console will include EVERY GAME that Nintendo has released on both Wii U and 3DS. In addition to the the backlog of games, the Switch Virtual Console will also launch with GameCube support and feature 2 titles: Super Mario Sunshine and Luigi’s Mansion. Both titles will cost $14.99 and will launch with the Switch in March.
#6 – Surprises
If you have been an Nintendo fan for any length of time, you know that Nintendo always has an ace in the hole. To be fair, it doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to, but there is also something to surprise and try to wow fans. I fully believe that Nintendo Switch will also feature, not just one, but several surprises. First I believe that the Switch will boast a Multi-Touch Touch Screen. Before you scoff, a touch screen still has NOT been confirmed for the Switch. Sure, it’s a given, but it is still currently an unknown. The other surprise that I think we get is an announcement of VR for the Switch. I don’t think much will be shown, if anything, but I feel like Nintendo will make mention that the Switch will have VR capibilities and a VR headset, designed by Nintendo, will be shown. One final note here, I don’t think Nintendo would do it because of it’s history, but how could would it be if the Switch VR Headset was called, “Virtual Boy”?!
#7 – Pre-Orders go Live
Nintendo is known for it’s scarcity at release. Whether it’s planned or not can be argued, but the truth is getting Nintendo hardware at release can be a big problem. As we’ve recently seen, with the release of NES Classic, Nintendo doesn’t always make it easy to pick up the system of your choice. I think that Nintendo has learned their lesson. I don’t believe that NES Classic is a good example because I honestly don’t think that’s a fair comparison. A better comparison is that right now you can Pre-Order Yoshi’s Woolly World for the 3DS and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Wii U on Amazon. There is no way I think that the Nintendo Switch will not have a pre-order. I predict that you will be able to pre-order the Nintendo Switch starting on Friday, 1/13 at all major retailers (Amazon, Gamestop, Target, Walmart, and Best Buy). I do believe that there will be scarcity. I do believe they will hold over a set number of units to sell, in store, on launch day. But I absolutely believe you will be able to pre-order the console.
To recap…I predict that the Nintendo Switch will release for $249.99 on Friday, March 17th. That it will launch with Zelda, Another Key Nintendo IP, and Switch Ports of Splatoon and Mario Kart 8. I believe the Online Systems will be improved and they will add a full featured Virtual Console that will launch with GameCube titles and link to your previous downloads. I believe there will be a multi-touch, touch screen and a VR Headset designed by Nintendo and I believe that it will be available for pre-order on 1/13.
What do you think? Let me know. Do you agree with my predictions? If not, let me know what you think we will see. Regardless of who is right or wrong, there is not question that Thursday, January 12th is going to be a day we will remember for a long time.