After initial disappointment at the titles released on the Nintendo Switch when it first hit the stores, there has been a recent surge in popularity of the hand-held console. This culminated in the Switch being the best-selling console of 2018 and was due in no small part to the work of new game developers – in particular so-called ‘Indie’ or independent developers producing smaller runs of more unique and innovative games. With E3 2019 revealing that the future of gaming may have no place for the console, it is heartening to see that old dogs Nintendo still have some new tricks up their sleeves. What more can we expect from them in the months to follow?
More great titles?
The work of indie developers has helped improve the sales of the Switch to such a degree that Nintendo intend to plough their funding into these small-scale operations to further reap the rewards. Indeed, it is thought that as many as one in three developers are now actively working on a game or games for the Switch, and that interest in this console is surpassing that of recently-developed VR technology like the Oculus Rift.
Great titles like Cadence of Hyrule, Celeste and Hollow Knight hark back to the so-called ‘best days’ of gaming, with enough ingenious modern features to keep even seasoned gamers guessing. These are the audience to which Nintendo intend to appeal and new developers such as Vlambeer and Inti Creates are already working on much-anticipated new titles (Cuphead and Blaster Master Zero 2) to keep the appetite whetted. Look out for new or reimagined titles like Katana Zero, Super Crate Box, Ultrabugs and My Friend Pedro too.
Console competitors Sony and Microsoft continue to invest in indie gaming for the same reasons as Nintendo, while PC gamers will always have Steam to find something new. However, they are also in bed with the gaming world’s biggest developers, the UbiSofts, ActiVisions and Electronic Arts’ of this world, and much of their focus is usually on the next big Call of Duty or Fifa release. This has allowed Nintendo to get ahead of the game with the indie developers, offering big bucks to tempt them into becoming Switch-exclusive.
The real rival for the hand-held Switch would appear to still be the mobile phone. In-app gaming is still a huge draw, while new casinos online have mobile-friendly interfaces and gameplay. Indeed, in the UK, millions take advantage of convenient online casino games such as slots and roulette, which are easy to access on the go. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s Switch Store continues to annoy gamers everywhere with its layout and usability issues. A sensible next step for the console gaming giant might be to simplify this process and give gamers the indie games they want and less of the hassle that is driving gamers to the growing iGaming world.
Working with independent developers has been a huge boost for Nintendo, just when it needed one. The product of this relationship has been endearing new indie titles and nostalgic reimaginings of classics that have helped gamers fall in love with the much-maligned Switch. This may only be a stay of execution as the rise of cloud gaming dawns, but it does give Nintendo credibility, time and funds as they seek their own solution to harnessing this next gaming revolution.