Video gaming is no longer for the few, but the many. With a portable console and dozens of games online, Nintendo is proving that anyone can play video games any time at any place. With excellent quality content and mobile design, Nintendo Switch has dominated the market this year, and it was the best-selling console of 2018. As the rest of the entertainment industry, the video game company wants to fill every minute of the user’s life. And, by offering this cheap-ish portable device and hundreds of hours of content, they can achieve it.
After several months of financial losses in 2014, the Nintendo team decided to design something new to enter the increasingly pervasive market of mobile phone games. At a $300 price, Nintendo Switch was launched in 2017 as a hybrid device, which can be both plugged to the television or used on its own. The result was a success. Only in the first month, the company sold over 2.7 million Switch units, becoming the fastest-selling console in the United States.
Just a few years earlier, Nintendo’s competitors had released their own cheaper consoles—PlayStation4 from Sony and Xbox One from Microsoft. For now, they have both sold more units than Switch, but they have been in the market longer. All three companies are entering a hard competition. On September 20th, Nintendo is set to release a cheaper portable-only version of Switch—it will cost $200. Next year, Sony and Microsoft will launch their next-generation “cheap-portable” consoles to compete with Nintendo.
As the use of smartphones 24/7 and the availability of on-demand entertainment content changed users’ expectations, video games needed to adapt. And they have very successfully done so. Just in 2018, the video gaming pulled $36 billion in revenue in the United States, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Companies are interested in advertising their content with the games; players want to watch tournaments and play games. However, the reason behind Nintendo Switch’s success is not only based on the market’s performance. Quality content and usability have been Switch’s most important weapons.
On the one hand, Nintendo Switch offers a Netflix-like, all you can eat, platform called Nintendo Switch Online with over 60 high-quality games for a $20 per year subscription fee. For example, it includes the famous The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or Super Mario Odyssey, both highly rated by critics and fans. Many video game players believe Nintendo Switch is the only place to play the best games. The service launched in September 2018, and Nintendo has added new quality games every month. This investment in content production is the key to Switch’s success. In entertainment, consumers pay for quality content, now more than ever. With the Internet offering thousands of options to spend leisure time, entertainment companies need to compete more fiercely to retain the user’s attention. Content, good content, is still king.
On the other hand, Nintendo Switch is powerful and easy to use. Unlike its predecessors, Nintendo Switch is portable and, as such, it feels personal. Users can easily pause a game they are playing on the TV but pick it up again on their commute. Switch can become a personal accessory, very much like your smartphone. With its portability, players can use it all day long, show it to friends, and take it with them on their holidays.
The video gaming industry is changing fast—4K gaming, augmented reality and virtual reality. Marketers are paying attention by advertising their content on Amazon-owned Twitch and YouTube games. Video game companies compete for users’ money, time and attention as any other form of media and entertainment. The threats are many, but the toughest one comes from their smartphone competitors. Gaming firms must differentiate their hardware from that of tablet and phone manufacturers. They must up their game and avoid being overtaken by manufacturers of portable devices than can be used to take pictures, shoot videos, surf the Internet and, on top of that, play games. For the moment, companies like Nintendo differentiate their product clearly, through great unique content and hardware specifically designed to play games.
The launch of Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles may dampen Switch’s sales, but Nintendo has already proven that quality content and an easy-to-use device are still the best strategies to achieve success; at least in the short-medium term. However, the question remains—how long will it last?
To learn more, watch this video by TechInsider summarizing Nintendo Switch’s features: