My prediction? The Switch is going to sell out at launch (which we're never going to hear the end of). It's going to sell better overall than the Wii U. But it isn't going to do the business that Nintendo would like. Third parties will slowly drift away as a result, and we'll get a system that within a couple of years is going to find itself in very much the same situation as the Wii U. Albeit having shifted a few more units.
Does that matter? Possibly not. Nintendo doesn't need to win the console wars. I mean, Microsoft's Xbox One lags way behind the PS4, but it's clearly turning enough of a profit for them to keep persevering with it. That's all Nintendo needs to do: make enough money to keep producing games for the Switch.
One other positive to take away from this stream of negativity: people are up in arms because they care about Nintendo. Gamers of a certain age genuinely love Nintendo. They want Nintendo to do well. I want Nintendo to do well. You can see this deranged, blind optimism in the number of post-launch posts and pieces refusing to acknowledge that the Switch's third-party support is actually a bit vague in the exact same way it was at the launch of the Wii U, and how everyone is pretending to be excited about the six year-old Skyrim heading to the console. Inexplicable.
Unfortunately, after almost 25 years writing about games I've got a pretty good track record of reading the tea leaves, and history tells me that consoles which stumble out of the gate find it almost impossible to gain ground. Here's everything about the Switch launch which concerns me.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild is looking good, obviously. 1, 2, Switch is supposedly a lot of fun (albeit an untested quantity as far as most punters go). Bomberman will be good, probably. The rest... well... it doesn't exactly scream must-buy. Skylanders Imaginators is available on other systems. Likewise Just Dance 2017 - hardly a hardware-shifting brand. And that's it. Listen to this: pffffft!
2. PRICE TOO HIGH
£280 isn't eye-watering. It's actually a reasonable price, and less than the PS4 and Xbox One arrived at. Nevertheless, it's the wrong price at the wrong time. PS4 and Xbox One are available for a hundred quid less than that now - with an established back catalogue.
It's a question of perception: rightly or wrongly, Nintendo machines aren't viewed as power-heavy machines, but family-friendly systems. £280 may be less than an iPad, or an iPhone, or a PlayStation VR headset, but the perception is that it's priced itself out of the hands of ordinary families. Yes, you get a lot in the box... but you don't get a game. Nintendo needs to either change how it is perceived, or suck it up and accept that people want cheap Nintendo consoles.
3. PERIPHERALS PRICED TOO HIGH
This, though... this is ridiculous. £75 for a second pair of Joy-Con controllers, and £65 for a Switch Pro Controller? Now, that's eye-watering... eye-wateringly stupid!!!!
4. CERTAIN GAMES SEEM TO BE TOO EXPENSIVE
£60 for the Switch version of Breath of the Wild, versus £40 for the Wii U version? They come out on the same day, idiots - which is massive error of judgement. Not exactly tempting Wii U owners to upgrade are they, not least when the game was originally developed for the Wii U? Of course, retailers are going to discount them - but why should they take a hit? They're struggling as it is.
Oh, and before you parrot the tired old line about games costing the same as they did 20 years ago... shut-up, and question your blinkered defence of a company that only wants you to keep breathing so that you can give it money. If you're that casual with your cash, please lob some my way. I need it more than Nintendo does.
You can expect around 2.5 hours of handheld gaming when playing something like Breath of the Wild, and something like 6 hours if you're playing, I dunno... Zelda II. That's about an hour less than the 3DS XL. That's not catastrophic - you can charge it up via its USB charging port, using a spare battery pack - but again, it's about the expectation. We sort of all expected them to have nailed the whole handheld battery issue, which they clearly haven't done. There's a reason I rarely play on my 3DS: I want ten hours out of a handheld before needing to charge it up.
What's that you say? Technology isn't at that level yet? Well, then don't make stuff which isn't up to muster. It's like trying to sell a time machine cabinet before anyone has invented time travel. And yes, before you all comment that this is an absurd thing to say: I know, alright?
6. CAN'T PLAY AND CHARGE AT THE SAME TIME
This is ridiculous. If you're using the Joycon Grip - which turns the two Joycon controllers into one chunky joypad - you won't be able to charge them at the same time. Once the battery runs out, you'll have to stop playing on the TV, and slot them back into the Switch's handheld base unit. It's alright though; for £28 you can buy a chargeable Joycon Grip. Pity's sake. Why not just slit my abdomen open, Nintendo? There might be a couple of quid in there...
7. NOT POWERFUL ENOUGH
It's telling that when Electronic Arts announced that FIFA was coming to the Switch, they didn't specify which FIFA. Now it's looking as if the Switch's version of FIFA will be based upon the engine used for PS3/Xbox 360 versions.
While Nintendo might push through graphical disparity on the strength of its gameplay, the same can't be said for third-party developers. The biggest knock-on effect of not offering hardware that can compete alongside the PS4 and Xbox One is that third-parties will struggle to port new games to the Switch - as seen on the Wii U. It'll lead to a barren choice of games; the Wii U ended up looking like an outlet store at 5pm on Black Friday.
After launch, the next big game to arrive on Switch is Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - which offers a few new tracks and that over the already-released Wii U version of Super Mario Kart 8. For some reason Nintendo is pushing the six year-old Skyrim incredibly hard - and plenty of sites seem to be buying into this as if it's a good thing, rather than an act of sheer desperation.
Later in the year we'll get Splatoon 2 and Arms - which look alright, but don't really feel to me like they're going to help the machine push through. Super Mario Odyssey will be great - I hope - but I've got to be honest here: I'm torn over the real world stuff in that trailer. I'm hanging onto my faith, but nothing I've seen looks as fun as Super Mario Galaxy.
Where are the rest of Nitnendo's big brands? Where's F-Zero? Where's Donkey Kong? Where's Pilotwings? Where's Metroid? It doesn't matter if those games aren't ready to be unveiled yet - just telling us that they are on the way would've gone a long way to whipping up some excitement.
9. WEAK AND CONFUSING THIRD PARTY SUPPORT
Realising the stick it has received over the dismal third-party "support" that the Wii and Wii U received, Nintendo has blown a big, brown trumpet when it comes to announcing that third-party publishers will be supporting the Switch. "Everyone's aboard!" seems to be the message.
That may be the case, but dig a little deeper, and it appears that support is coming in the form of older games (Skyrim and the three year-old Rayman Legends, for pity's sake), less power-hungry titles (no Mass Effect: Andromeda, for example, but you will get that new 2D Sonic game, Puyo Puyo Tetris and Lego City Undercover), and "franchises" rather than specific titles (a generic FIFA game, rather than, say, FIFA 2017).
Excuse me if I don't get too excited about all of that.
10. WEAK AND CONFUSING ONLINE OFFERING
Uhh... so you need to pay to play online (though not until the Autumn). And there's a smartphone app that lets you connect with friends. And for your monthly subscription you can play an old NES or SNES game for free for a month. Why can't you keep the games indefinitely, you tight-arse gits? They're old games! Stop spitting in your customers' faces!
There are only three possible conclusions to draw from all this. Nintendo perhaps exists in a sort of corporate, Japanese, bubble - and is entirely shielded from what the rest of the games world is doing and thinking, and - importantly - wanting from Nintendo. Or Nintendo is well aware of all that, and is just incredibly arrogant. Or I'm completely wrong about all of it. Although - ha ha - that seems highly unlikely!!!!
Unfortunately, it feels to me as if the company has yet to fully emerge from its "Disney Wilderness Years" period - you know, akin to when Disney were putting out movies like The Chair And The Hat, and Harold The Self-Harming Dugong... before they remembered what they were good at.
Anyway. Negativity. It's a lot of fun, yeah?