When Nintendo finally unveiled the Switch last week, it showed off the console running a mixture of upcoming titles like Breath of the Wild, as well as current Wii U games like Splatoon. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim also got prominent placement (in its Enhanced Edition, no less), even though no one had ever mentioned that the five year-old game would ship for the Nintendo Switch and Bethesda hadn’t previously mentioned any kind of plan to bring the game to a new platform.
Yesterday, a Nintendo UK representative confirmed to Eurogamer that the games shown during the video were all inserted in post-production, not native titles or gameplay. The actors that were filmed as playing were working with dummy props, not actual equipment. While close analysis had indicated this was likely the case already, Nintendo still hadn’t confirmed it until now.
“This video is all about explaining how the Nintendo Switch works,” a UK spokesperson told Eurogamer. “We wanted to convey in a self-contained video how Nintendo Switch represents a new era for video game systems enjoyed in front of a TV, by letting gamers play anywhere, anytime, with anyone they choose. It adds the mobility of a portable system to the power of a home gaming system.”
There are some interesting changes to how Nintendo is marketing its device as well. As GamesIndustry.biz notes, the early footage for the Wii (Revolution) and Wii U showcased the system being used by people of all ages, from children to the elderly. The Switch, in contrast, is focusing on Millennials. This suggests that the company is trying to regain credibility with customers that might otherwise be drawn to Sony or Microsoft, but it may also be a sign that the Nintendo 3DS has failed to catch on with children in the same way that the Nintendo DS did a decade ago. This makes some intuitive sense, if you assume that kids are most likely to be gaming on a smartphone or tablet and would prefer these devices to a handheld from Nintendo. There’s no sign of motion controllers or touchscreens on the Nintendo Switch, implying that Nintendo’s latest console is going to confine its revolution to the way you can take the device with you on-the-go rather than trying to kickstart another revolution in game control — though patent filings suggest the Switch could still be hiding some features.
That’s likely the best idea, particularly if Nintendo wants to win support from third-party developers. For a decade, gaming on a Nintendo system has meant learning how to use Nintendo’s very different control schemes from the ones Microsoft and Sony use. Simplifying that situation will probably help bring third-party developers back to the fold, especially if the hardware that the Nintendo Switch uses is more similar to PC or console designs from other companies.
More competition in the console market is a good thing, and Nintendo’s promise of seamless gaming whether you’re on-the-go or snuggled on the couch could resonate with fans — but I also wish we’d seen some actual shipping titles in action rather than just a focus on Millennials pretending to play games. In a few cases, this might be because Nintendo wants the games to look better than they currently do, like Breath of the Wild. Others are less clear, and showcasing titles not confirmed to be part of the platform, like Skyrim, is just plain odd.
True, the Nintendo Switch isn’t set to launch until March, but that’s only five months away. Both Sony and Microsoft were showing gameplay clips by this time in their own cycles, and the fact that Nintendo still doesn’t have anything to show isn’t a great outcome. Hopefully the company is holding back to put a final coat of polish on things and not frantically trying to finalize its own software and hardware internals.