Nintendo announces March date for launch of its new games console – and Mario is back
Nintendo has said it will release its long-awaited new console, the Nintendo Switch, on 3 March. It will cost $299.99 in the US, £279.99 in the UK and 29,980 yen ($260) in Japan, more than some analysts and gamers had been expecting.
The stakes are high for the Japanese firm after its most recent console, the Wii U, failed to replicate the success of the original Wii.
Nintendo shares dipped as details of the launch trickled out. Nintendo revealed in October last year that the games machine would be a handheld device that doubles as a home console.
Previously code-named NX, the Switch looks like a tablet computer with Joy-Con controllers that attach to its sides. The screen is touch-sensitive and the controllers can detect movement, like the Wii Remote.
When used at home, the tablet component slots into a dock that connects to a TV set. Games will be delivered on small cartridges, a nod to older Nintendo consoles.
The firm said that about 80 games were in development, including a new Mario game called Super Mario Odyssey, out late in 2017. One of the new titles unveiled was Arms, a motion-controlled boxing game, due to be released this spring.
Initially, there was some negative reaction online to the pricing of the console’s accessories. A Pro Controller, in the style of a traditional console controller, costs $69.99 (£57.50), additional Joy-Con controllers are $79.99 and a spare dock to use the Switch with another TV or monitor is $89.99.
Some analysts believe the device could be Nintendo’s “last shot” at selling a home console, after the Wii U proved a flop.
It was rapidly outsold by Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, although Nintendo has enjoyed success with its handheld 3DS device.
“The Switch release is a watershed moment for Nintendo as it puts into practice a strategy to defend its traditional console business by also appealing to those gamers that routinely use tablets and smartphones for gaming,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, gaming analyst at IHS Technology.
He added that the price of the main console was “as predicted”.
“This is not an impulse purchase or as cheap as other recent Nintendo consoles and at this price point Nintendo will be competing with existing consoles and tablets.
“As a result, communicating the unique aspects of the Switch – particularly the capabilities of the Joy-Con controllers – and its exclusive content through marketing spend will be key.”
Mr Harding-Rolls added that he thought the decision to launch a paid online service “makes complete strategic sense” and brings it into line with rivals Microsoft and Sony.
By releasing something that allowed gamers to play Nintendo titles both at home and on the move, the firm could find a “very lucrative middle ground”, said Ovum analyst Paul Jackson.
“Pure console gamers are likely to be disappointed here as it will probably be a powerful mobile device (battery allowing) but a comparatively weedy dedicated home one.”