THE SWITCH COULD BE NINTENDO'S ANSWER TO ESPORTS
TNL Take: Nintendo is not knowing for being the most nimble company. The iPhone came out in 2007 yet it took a decade for Nintendo to release it’s first iOS game with Super Mario Run.
However, Nintendo is known for completely thinking out-of-the-box. From the toy gun used in Duck Hunt, the Nintendo Gameboy and the radical Wii.
There’s also been some missteps like R.O.B (Robotic Operating Buddy), the Power Glove, the Virtual Boy and the Wii U.
While eSports has been around for over a decade and exploded over the past few years, Nintendo has stayed on the sidelines
The Nintendo Switch might finally be their entrance to eSports.
/01 CONSOLE + MOBILE GAMING
The genius of the Nintendo Switch is you can play console quality games at home on your TV and then take the “console” with you wherever you want. If they can pull this off with more titles, they may have finally bridged the elusive mobile eSport.
Yes, you can argue mobile games like Vainglory and Clash Royale are true mobile eSports but stick with me here.
/02 CASUAL AUDIENCE
Have you tried to play a game like League of Legends for the 1st time? Even a PHD in Physics would have a hard time to grasp not only what’s going on, but how to actually play it.
Almost all popular eSports titles – League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty – are all very hardcore titles that have a relatively steep learning curve and even harder to make it as a Pro.
The first The Next Level 001 addressed the fact that for eSports to grow even bigger, the industry needs to cater to more of a casual playing audience.
Nintendo has practically invented the casual gamer since Super Mario Bros. The games are extremely easy to learn and pick up. My dad has never played a video game yet loved Wii Bowling and Tennis.
Which brings us to the next point.
03/ THE GAMES
The early games being released for the Switch are super casual and could make early converts engage with eSports.
Ill put my chips on Splatoon 2 (which is like a cartoonish Third Person Shooter), Arms (basically boxing), Ultra Street Fighter 2 (already hugely popular) and the biggest one of all, Mario Kart 8 – who doesn’t love Mario Kart?
Splatoon has had several tournaments already:
04/ LAN PLAY
The internet connection failing and lack of infrastructure at arena’s make online connectivity a big issue in eSports even in 2017. I’m going to directly quote from Nintendo’s press release to showcase an amazing new feature:
“A new feature called LAN Play will be added to Splatoon 2, allowing up to 10 docked systems—eight players and two spectators—to connect via wired LAN. This feature allows players to create local Private Battle tournaments without the need for an Internet connection. Local wireless play is perfect for your regular gaming get-togethers, but LAN Play is where it’s at when you want to organize a serious tournament event with your fellow players.”
Instead of lugging around consoles, cords and other miscellanea, you just bring your Switch.
Yes you’ll need to buy the cord separately but it’s an amazing feature.
05/ SPECTATOR MODE
One of the other big challenges in eSports is how to translate what the player is seeing, that’s applicable to a spectator. Splatoon 2 will offer a “Private Battle Spectator View”, where two people can watch eight players battle it out.
That potentially solves the "who's the cameraman issue?"
While all that sounds rosy, there are still some obstacles that Nintendo will need to overcome to make this successful.
Nintendo’s controllers don’t seem to be the most friendly for extended play and far from either the PS4, Xbox One or even a keyboard and mouse.
While it seems that Nintendo is making a push towards eSports, will they actually fully support it like other publishers? Nintendo wanted to stop the live stream of Super Smash Bros. Melee back in EVO 2013. Their full commitment remains to be seen.
Ultimately, I’m excited for the Nintendo Switch as it’s something never done before.
Also play Zelda…it’s awesome.