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Monday Musings 2/27/17: Switch's launch lineup beats out Wii U's, here's why


Jason Clement

Monday Musings is a feature where every Monday, I'll shoot the breeze about what I've been playing and what my thoughts are on various news and events in the game industry.

 

This week I'll be talking about the upcoming launch of the Nintendo Switch on Friday, one early challenge that's come up already for it, and how I haven't been this excited for a new console in a long time.

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Is it Friday yet?

 

No?

 

Then is it too late to put myself in cryogenic sleep otherwise? Maybe that'd be overdoing it a bit considering the Switch comes out a mere four days from now, but seriously... I want that Switch yesterday.

 

It's funny -- when I think of the Wii U, I actually can't remember much of the pre-launch hype for it. I do remember that it was barely advertised on TV (much less elsewhere) -- Nintendo claimed that it was due to high ad prices because of the 2012 election -- but when it comes to being excited for it and the games it was launching with, I remember... nothing.

 

Of course, getting a new console is always exciting -- I do remember the day my Wii U arrived in the mail, but I don't remember being super hyped for it, and it's not hard to see why when you look at its launch lineup.

 

People like to rip the Switch a new one considering that it's only launching with 10 titles (9, if you don't count Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove and Specter of Torment as separate releases), whereas the Wii U launched with just over twice that amount. But here's the thing -- there are more titles in Switch's lineup that interest me a lot more than the Wii U's, and I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one who is thinking that.

 

Despite its superior quantity and diversity of launch titles, only five titles in the Wii U launch lineup were exclusive, none of which had major hype behind it.

 

Its strongest first-party title was New Super Mario Bros. U, a game that was too similar to previous games in the series and launched too soon after New Super Mario Bros. 2 released on 3DS just a few months prior. Nintendo Land was a decent pack-in mini-game collection that was largely overlooked, as was Ubisoft's ZombiU.

 

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In contrast, Switch has six exclusives (Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment is a timed exclusive for one month) -- all of which I'm much more interested in than the Wii U's five, which are now looking downright ho-hum.

 

If Switch's launch lineup doesn't interest you at all, I don't blame you. Having more titles is never a bad thing, and it's not a hugely diverse bunch of titles either. But compared to Wii U's lineup, Switch's is looking more and more like it makes the argument for "quality > quantity." The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild may be the driving factor for most people buying the Switch on day one, but I'm already much more excited to play some of the other games coming day one than I was for the many launch ports on Wii U.

 

Super Bomberman R, FAST RMX, Snipperclips, and Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove are all games I'm excited to dig into alongside Zelda, leading this to be one of the better launch lineups I've experienced in some time. While the verdict is still out on how good Super Bomberman R is, more than half of the launch titles have already received critical acclaim, which says a lot about the quality of the lineup itself.

 

Honestly, it was easy to be disappointed when Nintendo revealed that the Switch launch lineup would be a bit more meager than both the Wii's and Wii U's, but the more time we've had to adjust to it, the more I think the Switch will be just fine in the end.

 

Nintendo has already set in motion a number of titles (both big and small) that are set to launch in the following months and throughout the year, with more indies and third party games being announced every week -- more than enough to keep momentum and interest strong throughout the year.

 

Wii U -- on the other hand -- had the inverse situation. It launched with a respectable number of games of varying quality and then... was virtually silent for months at a time. The next big exclusive to release after launch came in March, some four months after. This was a huge blow to the Wii U's momentum, and it showed in the monthly sales after 2013 began as the platform began to sell less and less.

 

It's often said that a game console's library is judged by the amount of exclusives it has. Wii U had five at launch. Of 23 overall. The rest were available elsewhere.

 

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The Switch has six exclusives. Of ten overall. The remaining four? Probably not slated for doing big business, with maybe the exception of Just Dance 2017. Skylanders Imaginators isn't likely to sell gangbusters on Switch, because it's a game that's already been on the market for nearly 5 months now. Most of those third party Wii U launch games didn't sell like crazy either. Because they were also available elsewhere.

 

You know what most people thought when they saw that Assassin's Creed III available on Wii U at launch? "Huh, that's cool. I'll buy it on Xbox 360 or PS3."

 

60% exclusives to 21%, that's what you're looking at with Switch vs Wii U when it comes to their libraries. Even if Tomorrow Corporation's games make Switch's launch (which it isn't guaranteed as of this writing) and bumps the number from 10 to 13, 46% is still a fairly good number for launch exclusives.

 

One other thing Switch's launch lineup has going for it is that it knows its audience. Just look at the games --

  • 1-2-Switch - March 3
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - March 3
  • Skylanders Imaginators - March 3
  • Just Dance 2017 - March 3
  • Super Bomberman R - March 3
  • I Am Setsuna - March 3
  • Snipperclips - March 3
  • Fast RMX - March 3
  • Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment - March 3
  • Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove - March 3

For the most part, these are very Nintendo-oriented games, with a few casual games thrown in to attract the mass market crowd. It's not attempting to go after the Call of Duty crowd or the hardcore action crowd right now because it doesn't have to (and because it would be a moot point at the moment). Rather, they're doubling down on the games they know Nintendo fans will like best (and the ones that are actually ready to release): old-school platformers, arcade games, creative puzzle games, RPGs, racing games, and adventure games.

 

Wii U tried to be everything to everyone, but it wasn't because it didn't have enough that was unique to it at launch, whereas Switch is more focused and selling to a very specific crowd with most of its titles, while relying on 1-2 Switch and Just Dance 2017 to reel in casuals. This is why Switch's lineup beats out Wii U's.

 

That, and Breath of the Wild pretty much beats out the entire Wii U launch lineup anyhow.

 

Seriously, is it Friday yet?

 

 


 

What do you think? Is Switch's launch lineup more appealing to you than the Wii U's was? Would you have actually bought most of the third-party titles on Wii U, or would you buy them on PS3/360 at the time?

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