The Nintendo Switch launches this Friday, and while you physically cannot buy one at the current moment, with all pre-orders sold out, it’s certain that Nintendo will be making more soon enough. The question is that if you don’t already have one on the way, should you pick up the console this early?
This is always the “early adopter vs. waiting” debate that occurs with most pieces of consumer electronics, but video game consoles, and the Switch specifically, are a unique case. While I have already made up my mind (my system should be here the day of, if GameStop isn’t lying), I understand why others may be having a somewhat hard time deciding whether it’s worth it to pick up the system right now, or to wait.
I think there is a case to be made for waiting, given the somewhat unorthodox launch of the Switch, and where the console appears to be heading by the end of the year. In this case in particular, I think that even if you are pretty sure you want a Switch, you may be better off waiting until at least the holiday season to get one. Why?
Potential Technical Issues
All consoles have their share of technical issues at launch, but only rarely do we get a clear look at what might be a rather significant issue even before release. As of right now, there is still no clear answer as to what’s causing a prevalent issue among reviewer Switch units where sometimes the left Joy-Con will de-sync in TV mode. Right now, there’s no clear indication as to how widespread this issue could be among consumer units (supposedly this didn’t happen with dev kits) and what a potential fix will be.
It could be nothing. Nintendo might have a day one firmware patch that clears the issue right up. But on the other hand, it could be something larger, something with the hardware itself on certain units. I would very much doubt things would escalate all the way to a full-on recall, but until we know more about the problem, it’s hard to say exactly what the state of the issue will be at launch, and Nintendo isn’t talking. This is at least one reason to wait and see, at least until we know more about this specific problem, and any others that might crop up in the launch window.
It may depend how much you care about these specific features, but some fans are disappointed to learn that the Switch will not be launching with Virtual Console, a rather key component of most Nintendo hardware, and it’s unclear exactly what games will be in that Virtual Console once it arrives, or if your past purchases will transfer over. That’s important info that consumers may want to wait to find out.
Past that, if you’re hoping that the Switch will evolve into a more traditional tablet over time, you may have to wait as well. The Switch is not launching with any standard video apps like Netflix, or even a web browsers. Nintendo is hinting that both of those features may be on the way in the future, but again, not yet.
Building A Library
This is a pretty common issue among new consoles, where they launch at there isn’t all that much to actually play. While the Switch has Zelda as a blockbuster launch title, there is a sentiment among certain people that they don’t necessarily want to buy a $360 “Zelda machine,” and I can understand that impulse, even if you are a fan.
Nintendo is in the unique position of having specifically mapped out a number of high profile releases that should arrive on the Switch by the end of the year, namely Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey and potential Xenoblade. It’s not a guarantee that all will be out by then as Nintendo is known for game delays, but the company has been very clear that properly timed, regular game releases are the crux of their plans for the Switch, and so we can hope that means they will be sticking to their schedules more so than ever. As such, a Switch with Zelda at launch is nice, but a Switch with Zelda, Splatoon and potentially Mario, Xenoblade and other games by Christmas may be an even more attractive prospect, and feel more like it’s worth the cost.
While a permanent price cut for the Switch will absolutely not happen in its first year, it’s almost certain that by Christmas, the Switch will be on sale for the holiday. That could mean either a temporary price cut for the system, or a number of bundles that equate to a price cut and/or a free game. I would not rule out games like 1-2-Switch or Snipperclips or ARMS eventually becoming pack-ins for the console. Similarly, there may be discounted Mario/Zelda/Splatoon bundles as well by that time.
So not only will there be a bigger games library by the holiday, but it’s almost certain that even though it’s just a few months away, you’ll be saving some money either on hardware, games or both.
The Online Unknown
Probably the biggest unknown about the Switch right now is its online service, and that may remain an unknown for a while. While some form of the service will launch with the Switch at launch (though not many games will need it), it will probably remain in some form of beta until fall when Nintendo will start charging for it.
Right now, we’re less than a week until launch and we still don’t known some pretty fundamental things about the service, how adding friends works, how exactly the new phone app will work and interact with the system, and the exact price, not just an estimate. It seems Nintendo themselves may still be working on some answers to these questions, but by the time it starts charging for the service (does it even have an official name yet?) hopefully they will have that figured out. If this matters to you, it could be yet another reason to wait until fall.
For a while at least, you may not have a choice but to wait and buy a Switch due to supply shortages. But I think there are some compelling reasons to wait a little longer than that, given what’s coming down the pipeline, and what’s still unknown about the system. But it’s your call, and we’ll do our best to inform you about the system in its early stages once it launches this week.
Oh, but one more section:
The Case For Buying The Nintendo Switch At Launch:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
And it sounds like that could be enough.