Nintendo Launches Switch Online App: Is Nintendo Ahead or Still Playing Catch-up?

Nintendo’s always been a brand that’s cultivated strong devotion in its fans. After the underwhelming commercial success of the Wii U, the gaming giant looks like it’s turned the tide with the Switch, with nearly five million consoles already sold at the time of writing.  

Despite inspiring such commitment from fans, one area where Nintendo has consistently fallen short is in providing satisfying online experiences. In addition, while the company finally seemed to wake up to the existence of the mobile gaming market with the release of Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run in 2016, one could be forgiven for thinking that up until then, the “big N” had stubbornly ignored the trend for smartphone and tablet gaming.

The Big Picture

In case the above comes across as harsh, it’s worth putting it into perspective; There was a PlayStation app for iOS and Android back in 2013; While Microsoft took longer, releasing theirs for xBox in 2016, their own “reluctance” on this score was likely due to the fact that they were trying to push their own Windows-based mobile ecosystem. Nintendo launching an app in 2017 – and one that doesn’t really begin to gain full functionality for another whole year, seems distinctly behind the curve.

Looking at the wider industry for mobile games makes Nintendo seem even tardier in its approach. Take online casinos as an example; The bgo app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone is already well-established, and bgo is just one of many online casinos to have fully embraced mobile gambling. Casumo and CasinoLand are two other casinos that already have apps available.

So: the other console giants are doing mobile, companies specializing in mobile games are making their millions, and online casinos already have refined and popular apps out there. Surely this means a company of Nintendo’s stature must have something pretty special for us by now?

The Reality

Sadly, the reality of Switch Online seems as underwhelming as Nintendo’s previous ventures into online and mobile gaming. A review in Forbes is incredibly scathing, citing excessive battery drain, limited functionality, and clumsy usability. While nobody can truly judge the app until the formal release in 2018, signs point to Nintendo, once again, making a frustratingly half-hearted attempt at pulling off an engaging online and mobile experience.

It’s hard to fathom what it is that makes Nintendo constantly fall short in this regard. One wonders if the company assumes the success of the portable 2DS/3DS range means it needn’t engage with other mobile and online trends? If this is the case, it raises the question of whether it should bother at all. 

While the aforementioned Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run titles were very popular, it’s hard to believe they took so long to appear. Once again, Nintendo fans are being left behind their Sony and Microsoft contemporaries.

As we said at the start, Nintendo has always managed to build loyalty amongst its fans. They will no doubt queue up for Super Mario Odyssey in the coming months, and go on to enjoy the kind of gaming experiences that only Nintendo can deliver. Even so, Nintendo’s apparent blindness to the progress other companies continue to make in the online world remains a bitter pill to swallow.    

2 Responses to Nintendo Launches Switch Online App: Is Nintendo Ahead or Still Playing Catch-up?

  1. Phantom says:

    It’s a very barebones app at least right now. Hopefully they add party chat like ps4 has and make it easier to set up matches with the app. I do think they have done a good job with the splatoon 2 part of it and hope they will continue to do that for other games.

  2. haxxlyph says:

    I like to think that while Nintendo certainly starts behind the gate, their natural ability to create new trends will lead them to releasing an app that works out for the better. I would find it hard to believe they would so blindly push forward into the online realm without some R&D behind their backs.

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