If you’re a member of the first generation who grew up gaming at home, then you grew up on Nintendo. Atari was cool for its time, but Nintendo introduced us to icons, characters that became household names and games that still hold up in the age of realistic VR first person shooters.
For a decade, through the 80s and early 90s, Nintendo reigned supreme. There were contenders, but no one could touch the popularity of the NES or the Super Nintendo. Then came the Sony Playstation … and the game, literally and figuratively, changed. Soon, Sony’s biggest competition was Microsoft’s Xbox, and “Nintendo” became something “little kids” and “old people” bought. Sure, Nintendo sold a ton of Wii game consoles, but they lost an entire generation of gamers. Now, they want them back … and they are fishing for them by using a platform Nintendo perfected.
Before there were tablets and smartphones, there was the GameBoy and Nintendo DS. The company invented the concept of gaming on the go, and they created a ready market for those who would define the next generation of handheld gaming. Once again, Nintendo was lost in the barrage of options as technology roared ahead. Suddenly, people were playing games on their phones. They didn’t need another handheld device.
With the Nintendo Switch, the company that practically invented home gaming and gaming on the go for a generation of gamers has combined the two, creating a device that works as both a handheld game and a console.
The Switch is an obvious attempt by Nintendo to entice a large segment of the home console gamers away from Microsoft and Sony and bring them back to Nintendo. But these people alone will not be enough. Nintendo also needs to attract enough people who are happy enough gaming on their tablets in order to make the Switch a viable product across the gaming market.
No one has really tried this before, and that’s a bit surprising. After all, which gamers haven’t wanted to take their handheld game, plug it into their TV and pick up right where they left off? It’s an option gamers have wanted forever … and now they have it.
The goal now, for Nintendo, is to get enough people to see the value in making the “Switch” to this multi-phase system rather than a traditional console backed up by a handheld device for traveling. It might be tough to break that habit for people because they really don’t see the need to upgrade their console device, and they’re typically content with the games they can get on their phone. But that may change. Nintendo just needs to get enough early buy-in to make that growth possible and, then, profitable.
Ronn Torossian is a PR maverick and the CEO of 5W PR in NYC.