We get our groove on as Greg Johnson, co-creator of ToeJam & Earl, takes us on funk-a-delic journey nearly 30 years in the making. Nintendo’s latest mobile game is already making big bucks…surprisingly. And finally, The Hype Zone leaves us with egg on our faces…
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When it comes to quality, indie game titles can be something of a mixed bag (am looking at you, Troll and I). But when it comes to the Nintendo Switch, however, it’s hard to deny the incredible amount of high-quality titles that have been overrunning the platform as of late. It started off with Golf Story – a title which charmed the pants off of me. And now, the critically acclaimed likes of Cat Quest, Night in the Woods, Dandara, Gonner, Owlboy, Super Meat Boy, Celeste, Enter the Gungeon, and countless others like it, can be found on the eShop.
It comes as no surprise as Nintendo went out of its way to create the Nindies, a showcase event meant to highlight indie titles headed to the Switch. But with an ever-expanding library of quality indie games coming to the Switch, could Nintendo become suddenly inundated with titles that are less than award-worthy, and perhaps even garbage-tier? As more developers may look to cash-in on the Switch’s massive success, is a rush of sub-par content imminent on Nintendo’s darling portable-console hybrid?
When Sony announced the Playstation 4, it was done so alongside a huge emphasis on indie titles. The PS4 was to be all about games, a sentiment which seemed to be a complete 180° pivot from the previous generation’s bravado. A quick glance at the Playstation Store confirms that Sony has made good on its promise – currently 900+ indie titles can be found on the PS4’s digital shop. NINE. HUNDRED. And 575 of those titles – at least as of November 2017 – are exclusive to the Playstation 4. The sheer volume of games available to the consumer is staggering and even a little daunting. While I can’t fault Sony for making good on its promise of more games, the PS4’s indie offerings don’t even appear to be properly curated. As a consumer, having to wade through a waist-deep pile of trash just to get to something of value is a huge issue. Fortunately for Nintendo, and ultimately the consumer, the solution to a would-be problem might be easier than anticipated.
On the flip side of Sony’s flood of questionable indie titles is Steam. Currently there are 1,000 titles under the “New and Trending” tab alone. Now you might wonder, ‘how can anyone decipher what is worth purchasing in a shop with so much to offer? The answer appears to be a community regulated curation with Steam Curator. Steam, being a fairly open publishing platform, is a great platform for new developers to launch their games; it just makes sense given how community driven the service is. But where does that leave Nintendo? I don’t trust a company that uses Friends Codes to put together a comprehensive, community-driven curation system. What option remains?
There was a time when Nintendo branded quality with its very own seal of approval. It signaled to the consumer that you were making a smart purchase, but given the scale of the booming independent gaming market, there is clear cause for concern. One only has to look at the video game crash of 1983 to see the obvious dangers of low quality titles flooding the marketplace; brand loyalty goes right out the window the moment the consumer base feels ripped off. The Big N was able to remedy this by making use of the Nintendo Seal of Approval. Now that the classic seal is gone and with the eShop apparently releasing indie games with every other heartbeat, the eShop may become a Steam 2.0.
To be fair, I am all for indie game developers being able to release their games on the Switch without a whole lot of red tape. And as I stated earlier the Switch has been host to some of the most enjoyable indie experiences of my gaming career with tons to look forward to in 2018 (HOLLOW KNIGHT!!). I play a whole lot of indie games and talk about them weekly on Nintendo Duel Screens. However, I fear for the day when the likes of I Am Mayo or god forbid Energy Cycle make their way to the front page of the eShop. Having an incredible selection of indie titles to round out the Switch’s library in-between AAA releases like Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey is vital to the platform’s success. Dropping bombs like Party Planet and Acorn Tactics is not doing Nintendo any favors. If Nintendo isn’t careful, it may just end up bringing back that Seal of Approval. I just hope for Nintendo’s sake, that Nintendo brings the seal back because it wants to, and not because it has to.
Just over two months into its life, The Nintendo Switch has eclipsed 5 million in sales, and finding a console is nearly impossible. Amazon sells out of their stock in under 20 minutes. The handheld/console hybrid is a runaway success, and appears to have the software lineup to promote a lengthy life for itself. While Nintendo has always had a stranglehold on the handheld console market, there recently had been a second player in the game. Sony’s two portable systems, the PSP and the PSVita have been able to carve slightly into the market, but is it possible to ride the Switch’s coat tails and switch the conversation in their favor? While it isn’t likely, here are a few way that Playstation can steal The Switch’s thunder.
There are some Nintendo Switch-like mock ups for a handheld/console hybrid of Playstation’s own that are garnering some serious buzz from the industry. Simply making a hybrid console woudn’t be enough for Playstation to really matter in this battle. In order to figure out what it will take, we have to look at what mistakes were made with previous Playstation handhelds.
Unwavering First Part Support
Nintendo has a (recent) history with not being able to garner enough support from third party developers. Playstation, when it comes to their handhelds, have found the opposite problem to be true. Playstation’s first party studios abandoned ship entirely too early in the Vita’s life cycle, yet the Vita has one of the most impressive attach rates of any gaming device. While an accurate number may be hard to come by, it is believed that the Vita’s software attach rate sits around 15:1 (meaning each Vita owner has around 15 games purchased for the device). To be fair, the last number I can find was from Sony themselves touting a 10:1 back in 2015 with around 8 million units sold, so take this with a grain of salt. With just over 17 million Vitas sold, it is easy to get excited by the attach rate numbers, but for some reason, Playstation doesn’t get excited enough to support it with first party exclusives. This is the first way Playstation can steal Nintendo’s thunder. Nintendo will be supporting the Switch with a vast amount of first part titles, as it is their main console for the foreseeable future. Playstation must up the ante and throw all their big guns at the Vita 2. Infamous, God of War, Uncharted, Horizon, The Last of Us, etc are all the types of games that MUST be on the console. Even the 3rd party exclusive titles must make their way over. They cannot let Nintendo have a monopoly in quality of games. Playstation needs to commit.
Continue the Playstation Hardware Pedigree
I am already confident that whatever hardware Sony will come up for this hypothetical console will be far superior to the Switch. Sony is a hardware company. They make quality products with cutting edge technology. Nintendo likes to focus on keeping products as a palatable price, and doesn’t focus very much on having the “best” of anything tech wise. Sony could do The Switch better. In order for it to pull the rug out from under Nintendo, Sony would have to pull from their insane bag of tricks. Playstation Now and Playstation Vue have proven that they have cloud streaming down. Perhaps they could try and use cloud COMPUTING to combine Vita 2’s to improve performance of games. An example: The Switch can connect 8 consoles locally, but each system is its own independent machine communicating over a network. What is the Vita 2 instead used each processor in tandem with each other to boost performance? This could allow each Vita 2 to be used without sacrificing power during local cooperative play. It is possible that the Vita 2 could actually become the Playstation 5 in that regard. I am not engineer, but the larger point here is that Sony will have to throw out a powerful, yet competitively priced machine.
Use Cheaper & More Readily Available Memory
Speaking of competitively priced – there is no way that Sony can sell a Vita two or any other hand held console with those ridiculously priced memory cards. Proprietary memory cards are a thing of the past. One of Nintendo’s smartest moves with the switch was allowing the use of SD cards for storage. These cards are easy to find and relatively cheap. This is a small change that would have a huge impact on Playstation’s next device. It is a no-brainer.
Embrace Playstation History
Finally, the best thing Playstation could do to shower dirt over top of Nintendo’s Switch is to have a ubiquitous store where all Playstation titles can be played on it. If the device is as powerful as they should make it, there is no reason why they cannot have a powerful emulator to play Playstation’s titles of years past. Perhaps the only way to do this might be to expand Playstation Now, but if they really want to shower that heavy dirt on top of that coffin, they will have to figure out how to do it. Nintendo will touch a rich history in its Virtual Console eventually, and Playstation MUST have a response. Also – these old games MUST have trophies. Otherwise there is no point, right?
So there are three ways that Playstation could steal Nintendo’s thunder with the Vita 2 (or a hybrid Playstation 5 for that matter). What would you like to see in the next Sony console? Would you like a hybrid? Maybe just stick to the standard fare? How can Playstation steal Nintendo’s thunder? Let us know in the comments or come visit us on our Facebook page at the link below.