The Nintendo Switch Has Been A Massive Success
Since its Launch Back in March of 2017, Nintendo’s Switch has become a monster sales hit. With about 58 million units sold, the system currently holds a 10-million-unit lead over the Xbox One which was released in 2013. Even if Nintendo does not catch Sony’s PS4 sales (currently approaching the 112 million unit sold mark), the Nintendo Switch is an outstanding turnaround for the company as it came off the Wii U’s massive commercial failure.
Nintendo’s Switch is an interesting piece of tech, at the time of its launch it was the most powerful portable gaming machine available, and perhaps even today, in terms of practical uses remains a powerful portable. While its CPU is behind modern Cell Phone CPUs, and the GPU (somewhat cutting edge a few years ago) has been out done by newer Apple and Snapdragon GPUs, the fact that all the Switch hardware has to worry about is playing games has kept the system as the premier mobile system in which to play big AAA console games on the portable space.
Nintendo’s own AAA first party line-up has been outstanding for the system. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey are probably two games that belong on most top 10, top 20 all-time great games lists. Both games are certainly at the top of the Metacritic all time rankings.
Nintendo Never Quite Regained the Home Console Market from Sony Since 1995
Nintendo hit a wall with the Wii U in 2012. The Wii U was an underpowered system that hardware wise arrived at the market perhaps 5 years too late, and Nintendo was never able to justify the use of the tablet controller in any of its software. While 2006’s Wii had been a massive success hitting all the right notes with casual customers, Nintendo lost a great number of hardcore players during that era, and the Wii U suffered the consequences of Wii’s overnight success.
In theory, if we discount the Wii’s success as an anomaly of the time period we can safely say that Nintendo spent the better part of 20 years falling behind in terms of Home Console Hardware sales, while at the same time it thrived in the portable market with its Gameboy, DS, 3DS hardware lineup. Nintendo hit rock bottom with the Wii U which sold a paltry 13.56 million units in its lifetime.
The Switch then, is Nintendo’s quiet exit from then home console market (as the tablet system can be docked to its docking station and played on a big TV, therefore cleverly maintaining its status as a “Home Console”) with a portable system that can be played on your big HDTV and not the other way around.
As a portable machine the Switch has been excellent, Breath of the Wild is one of the most artistically beautiful games ever made, and taking the Witcher 3 on the go is a priceless experience. The Switch has actually been my system of choice for some third party games (such as Dark Souls, and Dragon’s Dogma), as the portability alone has made my life as a gamer, husband and parent are more convenient one.
Enter The Joy Con Drift Issue
So far all has been roses and peaches with my Nintendo Switch except for one particularly important issue: The Joy-Con “drift” problem. Research the issue on google and you will that the problem is persistent in many units (I assume it is affecting millions as most of the people that I know that own the system have had issues with this) and it is clearly a flaw in the Joy-Cons design. Nintendo – logically – has denied that there is a design issue or defect, as replacing 60 million Joy-Cons would be an awfully expensive endeavor.
Nintendo will fix your Joy Cons for “Free” if you contact a repair center of course. That alone, is somewhat of an admittance that the controllers have issues. That said, that solution is a cumbersome one, as you have to ship your controllers and well, it can take weeks before they are returned and there is no guarantee that your Joy Cons won’t drift again as the defect hasn’t really been corrected.
The biggest slap in the face to Nintendo’s loyal customer base has been the fact that the Switch Lite has been manufactured, and shipped with the same Joy Con issue. Nintendo hasn’t addressed the defect at all, making the $80 controller a very risky purchase indeed (The fact that Nintendo is selling a defective $80 controller in my opinion is a shameless act in itself).
Nintendo has been criminally silent on the issue until now.
The Quest For Justice
This week, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa apologized for the “inconvenience” that the Joy Con’s defective joysticks are causing Nintendo’s customers. He refrained from further comments as there is an ongoing Lawsuit by American customers which are (justifiably) bent on seeking justice for Nintendo Switch customers.
The rare admittance by an important executive such as Furukawa might hint that Nintendo is perhaps working behind the scenes to finally address and fix the root of the issue…or maybe that it isn’t but Furukawa is sorry for they how badly they have mismanaged the situation at this point. Hopefully, the lawsuit forces Nintendo’s hand into fixing the issue, and perhaps replacing all Joy Con units with new defect free versions of the controller.
As of 2017 Joy Cons costed about $90 dollars to make, which meant that Nintendo was losing about 10-11 dollars at retail per Joy-Con sold. If Nintendo were to replace every unit because of the defect…it would (under the 2017 manufacturing cost) cost Nintendo nearly 5.5 billion (rough estimate) dollars in damages ( assuming they replace 60 million units of the controller, as with-in a month or two the Switch will have sold that number of units worldwide).
Even if manufacturing costs have gone down to $60-$70 per unit, we are still talking about a multibillion dollar loss for the company which is why they have kept quiet – and have refused to acknowledge – the defect so far. We shall keep our readers posted in the progress of the Lawsuit and Nintendo’s own stance on the Joy Cons over the next months.