The Nintendo Switch is making headlines since the first reveal back in October, and the most recent reveal last week. Coming March 3rd, the newest Nintendo console could potentially be the most indie friendly Nintendo console to date. Most would consider the PS4 and the XBox One to be far ahead of the game compared to Nintendo. We now of a few key differences that might give the Switch the edge.
Taking Modern Gaming Culture Seriously
Arguably one of the biggest failings of the Wii U was the lack of third-party support. It opened with a handful of games from non-Nintendo developers, but a failure to court devs outside of Japan and the power and capabilities of the system prevented it from becoming more than its predecessor. The Nintendo Switch likely has already surpassed the Wii U with the confirmation of Skyrim on the system. While Skyrim might be an older title, it does give credence that it will at least be closer in power to its competition.
In addition to moving forward with more power, Nintendo is looking to finally take online gaming seriously. The original Wii was criticized for never evolving the online ecosystem of Nintendo. Their continued failure following that system showed that Nintendo was incapable of understanding the modern gaming landscape. Sony learned early in the PS3’s lifetime that it was important to taking online gaming seriously. They paid dearly in relation to Microsoft’s Xbox Live. Many fans of Nintendo are disappointed that free online use is going away shortly after the launch of the system. Instead, they should see it as the next step in an evolving Nintendo.
Taking modern gaming seriously will greatly benefit the smallest of developers. The HD twins, Sony and Microsoft, have recognized the need for games of all sizes on their respective systems. This generation is seeing more and more developers getting a chance to flourish on the same stage as the largest of triple-A developers. With Nintendo showing that they are ready to move on, clearly an indie revolution is inevitable on the Switch.
The Potential of the Joy-Con
Indie devs are known for taking risks in their control schemes and their gameplay. Nintendo is known for being different when it comes to controllers and the Nintendo Switch is no different. The Joy-Con controllers are going to be a breath of fresh-air for devs. Instead of being limited to the standard controller or a keyboard and mouse, the new Joy-Cons could generate something new. Triple-A developers are going to ignore the uniqueness of the Joy-Con like they ignored the Dual-Shock 4. Nintendo might need to rely on the forward thinking indie devs to take advantage of the Switch.
One of the potential benefits of the Joy-Con controller will be for Local-Multiplayer games. Local-Multiplayer games have been a re-surging genre within the indie gaming community for some time now. Games like Towerfall, Screencheat, and the upcoming Roof Rage are inspired by the N64 classics, Smash Bros and Goldeneye. The Joy-Cons are looking to recapture that same magic on the go with each one being a complete controller. They are going to give the Nintendo Switch multiplayer on the go.
Some of the other features of the Joy-Con will bring developers to the console. An included IR sensor and complete gyroscope in each controller will open up new avenues for the most daring studio to produce. There are games like Johann Sebastian Joust which control without the need to look at the screen. Nintendo’s own production 1-2-Switch is looking to advance that. We are likely to see a whole new genre of games coming from the Switch that was not yet possible with the standard controller.
Why Nintendo Needs Indies
While third-party relations are still thawing with Nintendo, the relationships with smaller developers are still waiting to be made. The Switch is still going to have a hard time finding the major triple-A publishers to release new games. Focusing efforts on gaining some of the most promising developers is a win-win situation. Small developers are going to benefit from the expanded exposure of Nintendo’s promotion, who will benefit from exclusive titles. Indies might not be the deciding factor in whether the Nintendo Switch will be a success or not, but they will be a major factor in keeping it afloat for now.
Nintendo and Indies might not need each other, but neither can ignore the benefits they can do for each other.