OLED? Oh Nintendo…
There’s a great quote that I think successfully sums up Nintendo’s OLED Switch announcement. It’s attributed to Henry Ford, although he didn’t actually say it. “If I’d have asked people what they wanted, they’d have said faster horses”. Well, Nintendo, people are unfortunately screaming for faster horses, and you gave them the same horse in a stupid hat.
The Switch is a juggernaut, and it isn’t going away any time soon. Nintendo have no obvious direction once this console is at its life’s end, and I’ve no doubt the rumoured Switch Pro will go a long way towards extending that.
People want the Switch Pro. They want to play Switch games at a resolution and graphical quality that these great titles deserve.
OLED is gorgeous, but it isn’t going to solve the fundamental issues of the console itself.
The OLED Edition
The OLED model solves a few smaller problems with Nintendo’s latest console. A bigger 7-inch screen, an ethernet port and, yes, a massive 64GB of storage. Not to mention those gorgeous true blacks that come with the OLED technology. That’ll be a bit improvement over some people’s TVs, no doubt.
There’s a couple of questions. If the Switch Pro exists – and it has to – why would anybody buy this? Are fans going to purchase their OLED Edition on October 8, only to find there’s a BETTER better Switch in 2022?
If the Switch Pro doesn’t exist, and this has only a few minor upgrades over the original model, what’s the point of repurchasing? I understand there are people that will upgrade their console just for the better screen, and all the more power to them. But that’s not a big enough crowd to justify a whole re-release. Will the original Switch be made cheaper or discontinued entirely?
These are all good questions that’ll be answered by October. You can probably guess the answers now. Just think of the most corporate thing possible, and you’ll probably be right. So, yes, Nintendo’s biggest fans will be asked to buy both the OLED and Pro versions of the Switch. Look out for that Pro announcement on October 9.
But that’s all by the by. Instead, I’m interested in the more social impact of this decision. Because, as I said above, Nintendo has a funny attitude towards those faster horses.
Missing a Trick
Diehard Nintendo fans are willing to put up with a lot. They’re not often treated well. I suspect that’s because Nintendo – when they’re successful – doesn’t really need their hardcore.
So when forums throughout the web are calling on Nintendo to make a console that even begins to take advantage of their shiny new 4K TV (from 2016), it’s telling that the answer is a resounding silence. Not because Nintendo should bow to the whims of internet people, but because a 4K display mode isn’t a lot to ask for in this day and age.
Take Breath of the Wild, give it HDR, a higher resolution and a longer draw-distance and people would love it. Hell, charge £70 for it and call it the “Ultimate Edition” if you want, fans would rush out to buy it. Don’t forget to laugh when anybody asks about an upgrade path. You’d still make a mint.
In a healthy gaming industry (and really in a healthy world full stop), you want more than faster horses. Sadly, that’s rarely what we get. People are happy with slightly upgrades phones, slightly upgraded cars – and corporations are, by and large, happy to oblige. But at least they give the impression of something new and exciting. “Hey look, my phone has 15 cameras on the back for some reason!”
Nintendo have put lipstick on their horse. They’ve added an ethernet port, which no self-respecting horse would do without anyway.
To thankfully cut the metaphor short, Nintendo has a nasty habit of making minor changes, then holding up their hands for applause. Some will give it, but most won’t.
And then they’ll probably sell 100m units anyway.