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Nintendo’s Philosophy: Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology (2015) (medium.com)
274 points by michaelpinto 5 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 174 comments



I think it's important to also understand that, despite broad name recognition, Nintendo isn't a huge company in the way that Sony or Microsoft is. Their entire corporate revenue for 2019 was about $11b USD with about $2.3b USD in operating income. We regularly talk about startups here that are technically larger.

What Nintendo's philosophy boils down to in terms of business strategy is using the fact that they are smaller and more nimble to allow creative solutions to make it to market. We see the exact opposite from Microsoft/Sony where their strategy is pushing the highest possible technology they can get to consumers at a reasonable price, and their solutions are virtually interchangeable with fairly minor differences in overall tech.

While Microsoft and Sony's revenues per platform are around the same, their console businesses are small pieces of very large organizations -- with all the ossification that comes from being huge companies.

It's also helpful that culturally Nintendo is a toy company, and thinks about the platforms and games (and toys) they create in terms of principles of play vs. electronic experiences. You can really tell this in their games, where each game feels like an integrated toy system with figures, playsets, very light stories, and a fair amount of open ended play (within the rules of the "toy"). Nintendo's focus is on how to create this play experience, and what's the right amount of technology needed for it instead of launching a rocket into orbit so that I can mow my lawn in the dark.


There have also been interviews where they've talked about how they won't do something unless they can add something new to it. For example, they haven't created a new F-Zero game because no one has really come up with anything to add to F-Zero to make a compelling game, rather than just "It's another F-Zero game".

In I think the same interview, it was discussed that they won't make a game unless it's fun if it's just geometric shapes or basic sprites. The idea there being that a Mario game isn't fun just because it has Mario in it, but if the gameplay is solid then it will be fun despite not having Mario in it. Presumably this also lets them crank out prototypes without having to worry about spinning up art assets to give testers context.


tbh that's probably just a polite way of saying they wont do a new one because ax was a highly expensive commercial failure. there have been 6 mario kart sequels since gx that all broadly fall into the category of 'just another mario kart'


I'd disagree on the Mario Kart example. The core mechanics of that series have stayed roughly the same, but the little additions have created a different, deeper experience:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3oz5uth_90

It feels beautiful.


"Withered" is a really weird word to use here since all of these old-and-cheap parts are cheap only because they're massively widely used. I think a better translation would be "commodity parts".

In fact later in the article it says "This was a poor translation of the original, which was much closer in spirit to ‘weathered.’" It seems to me that the use of the term in the headline was deliberately obfuscating clickbait. :/

That said, I always love seeing the ways that Nintendo manages to think outside the box and do genuinely new, fun things with far less.


The original word is 枯れる, which really is normally translated as "withered", or, contextually, "dead" or "dried up". Translating it as "commodity parts" loses the implication that common sense says the technology is "used up" in some way. It's not a word you'd normally use to praise something.

Here's a bunch of sentences with English translations that use the word:

https://jisho.org/search/%E6%9E%AF%E3%82%8C%E3%82%8B%20%23se...

There is also a sense that means "matured" or "tested by time", but I've honestly never seen it outside a dictionary, and in fact for many dictionaries the example usage of that sense is just 枯れた技術, Gunpei Yokoi's term. Example:

https://kotobank.jp/word/%E6%9E%AF%E3%82%8C%E3%82%8B-468424


I think withered is a mistranslation (I speak Japanese).

E.g. my dictionary mentions 枯れた演技 for "well-seasoned acting". That sounds appropriately positive to describe such technology: old but reliable.


Yeah I think the article was off-base there - "withered" isn't a mistranslation at all. I'd probably have gone with "dried-up", but to translate it as "weathered" changes the meaning considerably.


I disagree, weathered often implies broken in, established, mature.


Probably a concept that would be helpful to adopt in the west.

Like, tech can be so concerned with the new new, we sometimes forget there's a bunch of old stuff that works pretty reliably, and can be applied in new and creative directions, with a little 'lateral' thinking.


Some pedantry is in order – withered and weathered are different words.


This seems like it might be a situation where the connotations do not translate very well rather than a question of direct meaning.


A monolingual dictionary gives 7 definitions. https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/word/%E6%9E%AF%E3%82%8C%E3%82%8...

I think the one that best applies here is 4 - 技術や製品などが、その登場から十分な時間が経ち、すでに問題点が出尽くし、解決も済んでいる。最先端のものではないが、不測の事態が発生しにくく、安定して動作することを意味する。

This definition is roughly "Enough time has passed since a technology, product, etc, debuted that its flaws are well known, and development has settled. It means it is not cutting edge, unexpected situations (usages) rarely occur/are difficult to create, and the usage is well understood/stabilised."

I tend to see much richer and more precise definitions from a Japanese-Japanese dictionary than from Jisho.



FWIW I really didn't feel clickbaited - the article more or less aligned with my expectations based on the title.


> It seems to me that the use of the term in the headline was deliberately obfuscating clickbait

I think this (mis)translation was fairly widely recognised before this article was written, so it's probably just using the familiar version in the heading in preparation for clarifying it in the article. Reasonable enough I think.


The article is a case of rose-coloured glassed. It helps that FLOPS per core has essentially flatlined since 2006. I’m sure Nintendo realise that’s the main reason for the hardware choices.

https://www.quora.com/What-makes-CPU-models-increasingly-fas...


They've followed this philosophy since at lea st the first Gameboy though. How do FLOPS essentially flatlining since 2006 account for that?


Before that even, with the Game and Watch handhelds.


I wonder if the use of the 65C816 processor in the SNES (released in 1991, at least in America) also qualifies.


“ While you may think of virtual reality as the definition of a cutting-edge category, the Oculus Rift’s two most important components are a cheap smartphone screen and a pair of fifty cent lenses. These two withered parts allowed for mainstream pricing ($350) and freed the team to work on peripheral innovations like decreasing latency and refining positional tracking.”

Interestingly, a lot of our tracking and latency related work was withered technology too. We used MEMS sensors that were being made in enormous quantities for mobile phones, and a lot of the latency philosophy came from old concepts of “chasing the beam” in rendering.


For me, the use of the Snapdragon 835 in the Oculus Quest seems like a really good example of this philosophy as well. Definitely 'withered' by the time the Oculus Quest was released. Yet it's doing things to a quality that I've never seen it do in any Snapdragon 835-based phone.


Same can be said about the Switch - the Nvidia Tegra chipset used is absolutely ancient by modern standards, yet in the Switch it's used to much higher quality than in any other device with the same or similar chipset.


A lot of that has to do with being able to run at high sustained clock frequencies by designing in an adequate thermal solution. Phones just don’t have the space to allow for that, so games have to be designed around throttled performance.


This is a combination of costs and timeline. Oculus Quest development started in 2016 or 2015. Snap dragon 835 released in 2018 and Quest shipped in 2019. Now, Quest shipped 6 months after 865 so it would have been possible for Facebook to co-develop Quest with Qualcomm and potentially ship with an 865, but due to various factors (VR is a small market, Facebook doesn't have a close relationship with Qualcomm like console manufactures have with AMD, Quest needed to be "cheap")


While it's beside your [good] point - you can do VR with fifty cent lenses and early headsets did, but the lenses in headsets like Oculus are specialised and still evolving.


Oculus also spent a ton of money to source and develop the best 50-cent lenses they could -- it's easier to spread the cost of R&D over many headsets than it is to spread the cost of expensive specialty parts.


While the article is most definitely talking about their hardware, I can't help but feel they probably take a similar approach to their software. Switch's OS is basically a fork of their 3DS OS, with much more thought put into play about security (the 3DS was swiss cheese). Of course, there were many bugs to be found (using a massively out of date webkit at launch, they outsourced this to some vendor). But after all these years, online play in their first party games is still just so .. atrocious. Ugh.


That also has to do with the state of software in Japan. For a very long time, being a software developer was seen as much less prestigious than being an electronic engineeer and a bit more akin to a secretary that codes up the requirements...

So the best and the brightest did not tend to go into software and the typical state of software engineering in a lot of big japanese companies was extremely bad... It's getting better but it's still not great.

Nintendo also has a tendency to outsource a lot of their software development (IIRC the SDK for the wii and the DS was outsourced to intelligent systems who themselves then outsourced part of it)

This is of course a generalization as things goes and there are great things coming out of Japan (hello Ruby!) but having lived there, there was a marked difference between the software engineering culture in Japan and the one I saw in the US and Europe, with Japan being easily a decade or more behind.


I worked for Namco Bandai's American branch for a few years around 2006. The Japanese developers could apply to work in America for the cultural experience, IIRC the ones I met told me they were paid about $30000 USA in Japan and got a temporary bump in salary to $75000 or so for cost of living adjustment and a company car and apartment (this was in Santa Clara, CA). I think they were all extremely good, competent programmers and we American programmers were making about double what they were making, our contractors were making I think triple what they made. One of the Japanese guys coding anonymously in the corner worked on several of the Namco cabinet video games like Dig Dug back in the day.


I hope this isn’t too off topic but my son and I spent a lot of hours bonding over the game “Tank Tank Tank”. If by some small chance you were part of that project, thank you.


Sorry that was after my time, may have been entirely Namco Bandai Japan production.


Do you think part of the issue is that computerization of records lagged due to the difficulty of encoding Japanese? When I lived there in the mid-00s, everything was still done on paper AFAICT. By then Unicode sort of existed but was still niche.

On top of that, programming is done in English, which just adds cognitive burden. You could make a Japanese programming language, but those haven't gone anywhere, I think in part because you'd need to convert the characters to kanji as you type and that would take longer than just typing in Roman letters.


Yes but not really.

The “encoding problem” for Asian languages is real, but it goes back earlier than that, as it emerged with typewriters. See Thomas Mullaney’s “A history of the Chinese typewriter”, and Nanette Gottlieb’s “Word Processing Technology in Japan” for more. By the late 90s/00s it wasn’t a significant primary factor (that is if it was a factor, it was due to cultural inertia, and not lack of access to technology itself).

I think the problem here is looked at backwards. It’s not that Japan sucks at software - it’s that the US/North America got extremely good at software in the last 20 years (by a combination of factors that feed into each other, as always: the best research labs are in the US, the tools are built in the US, the companies that make use of them for competitive advantage are in the US, the economic context most favorable to founding such companies is in the US, etc). The rest of the world is catching up, but the gap is still visible.


Strange, any insight on what the perception is of game programmers in Japan? I feel like a lot of the great Switch games are made by Nintendo, it would seem they'd be dying for good developers to continue developing first party titles.


Is this why software developers are paid peanuts in Japan?


Well, yes, it's not valued as a profession. When I moved to Japan as a recent grad, I was paid 50% of what I would have been paid back in France...


Isn't it more a fork of android with some loose inheritance from 3DS?

But anyway, the problems of software and online-service in japan are old, very old. To some degree it originates in their late adaption of PCs with broader parts of society, to some other degree their early adaption of online-services in the age of featurephones including all the horrible patterns.

Japans society developed quite different in those areas, and you see it all the time with their software, culture and decisions. Nintendo is not really special there.


Nope. It contains AOSP code (which started the rumor mill that it was Android) but it was not. It also contains some code from FreeBSD, which similarly sparked the rumor that it was FreeBSD, but alas it isn't. I spent a good amount of time in the early Switch days picking apart the operating system.

Here's a good wiki with a ton of information on the kernel/os: https://switchbrew.org/wiki/Main_Page

EDIT: Here's some AOSP usage: https://switchbrew.org/wiki/Nvnflinger_services https://switchbrew.org/wiki/Display_services and apparently some AAC codec code.


Even Sony's offering in that regard has been playing catch up to Xbox Live. PSN on PS4 has reached feature parity with Xbox Live on the 360, but it sure doesn't compete in important areas like actually working, download speeds, and navigating the menus in a reasonable time. Not sure what Live on Xbox One is like as I didn't get a Xbox this generation.

Meanwhile Nintendo still hasn't caught up with Xbox Live from the original Xbox.


"Meanwhile Nintendo still hasn't caught up with Xbox Live from the original Xbox."

I can't help but think that this is intentional from Nintendo. There are many many online and local wireless features on the Wii/ and 3/DS that are no longer present on the Switch. They seems to start over with every platform. I get the impression though that Nintendo doesn't want communication features that are not "safe" for younger players. It is really frustrating though, especially with stay-at-home, that my kids can't communicate with friends on their gaming platform. The Wii U was a step in the right direction and they scrapped that.


They made the right decision. Communication in online gaming is poison and only gets worse and worse over time. Keep your kids off of it as much as you can.


In general I agree, though every gaming community is a bit different. Personally I'm keeping my kids off public online communication in particular, but I do want them to have that communication option with IRL friends and family when they go online.


I don't know if I would hold it against any company for not being on par with Microsoft for rolling out a massive cloud service. Microsoft has been designing for massive, globally distributed services for enterprises forever, even before Azure and O365.


I would say Microsoft took a big step back with live on Xbox One. Very unreliable service with regards to communication in parties and joining games via invitation. I don’t think you can say today that Microsoft has better online services than Sony.


I'm really surprised they don't use a light weight Linux or something as a base. Nintendos OSes have been pretty terrible. I remember the 3DS e-store being especially painful to use and that's how they're supposed to make money off you. All the online features always feels like my 1st gen Kindle.


It's remarkable how their fundamental "lateral" insight of the last decade was so blindingly obvious in this age of the smartphone - portability is king. I wonder if they collected data from the 3DS and WiiU and could tell that playtime on portable systems was orders of magnitude greater on portables.

If you ask me, given my experience owning a Switch and watching my PS4 and gaming PC gather dust, the most compelling product Sony or Microsoft could make right now would be releasing a system with PS4 / Xbox One level power in a portable form factor (and the latest smartphones do push more gigaflops than those systems). As has been said many times about smartphone cameras, the best gaming system is the one with you.


Don't forget that, with the Switch, there was the opposite argument: "Smartphones are so common, nobody would buy a separate gaming device! If you want gaming on the go, you just download Candy Crush on your iPhone."

So the "lateral" thinking, here, was actually... quality. Smartphone games suck. The monetization strategies are downright predatory and touchscreens are a bad input device for a majority of game genres.

So what Nintendo did was make actually great games for a tablet device. Being able to put it on the TV and detaching the controllers is secondary, it's mostly about having great games!

This is why I'm a little pissed at marketing analysts turning this into some kind of stroke of business genius. The Switch is basically a Wii U with the GPU moved into the tablet part and the Wii U flopped hard. No market analysis could have predicted the Switch's success. It was a stubborn believe in quality, the worst thing they could do, what every "business advisor" would have warned them against. Market analysts were hilariously wrong and that's the history lesson to learn here, not "predulating quadrilateral core-market flibbugasting". The Switch is not a win they can claim, it's a win for quality and idealism.


The real beauty of Nintendo's strategies, I think, is that they validate many forms of analysis.

The design in them is never just great hardware, or great software, or great marketing, or any one objective quality metric, but some kind of blend of these things that defines the problem they are solving such that they avoid risking catastrophic failure in any one of them.

And this strategy whiffs on occasion, but it generally does so in a recoverable way: Wii U underperformed, but that meant that they didn't have to shepherd along the base with backwards compatibility. The biggest titles on it instead got ports or sequels on Switch. Nintendo never sells consoles at cost, so they lost development money but still came out of the endeavor with a refreshed game library. It's very much a "fast is smooth, smooth is slow" kind of notion.

And this is something you rarely see elsewhere in the tech world: The focus there is not just on making a gadget, but a world-beating gadget that boasts unsurpassed specs and rushes to beat the competition in doing so in the "move fast and break things" fashion. That approach leaves these companies with no room to build a legacy of the type Nintendo has, because their ambition was to skim some cream off the market, and maybe attain platform lock-in for a time, but not to really curate their own work or become something people refer to over the long term. And this is even true of most of the other game publishers, too: They burn through their franchises with casual abandon and trust heavily in their sales and marketing organization to make up the difference.


> Being able to put it on the TV and detaching the controllers is secondary, it's mostly about having great games!

If anyone doubts this, the Switch Lite sold 1.95 million units in its first ten days, and you can neither put it on the TV nor detach the controllers.


I can't see Sony getting back into portables after seeing how they let the Vita wither on the vine and die. It was a very powerful system for its time and did decently faithful renditions of games running on consoles of the time. It is really too bad: the Vita is great. I just bought one a short while back now that it has been hacked wide open. With an affordable SDCard & adapter in place of Sony's proprietary and expensive memory cards, the Vita is an emulation powerhouse on top of all the original content made for it.

Nintendo's portable efforts have been honed since the Gameboy. The content really helps sell those handhelds and keeps people glued to them. Games like Animal Crossing ("Gotta play every day or I get weeds in my town!") or Pokemon ("Gotta get 'em all.") are like crack. And a lot of their other content is simply top notch.


I have a Vita, and it killed me on the Gaming UX side. But aside from that here's why the Vita failed to me.

- I hated the touchpad on the back. I'm in that subset of people who thinks the original 'Texas' Xbox controller is a good size for my hands, so I know that's very subjective. But I could never get comfortable with it.

- Using it doesn't feel as smooth as my times with a (3)DS or even the original PSP.

- Speaking Sony killed a shitton of goodwill with their winddown of the PSP for me. Yeah that's a nitpick but I think others had it as well which impacted uptake of the Vita.

- Proprietary memory cards that are too expensive. At least with memory stick I had a couple of options. Yeah I get that the new formats were to help with the piracy issues, but then making your proprietary cards so expensive just makes me feel soured.

- Loading times on the Vita still remind me of playing on a console with a hard drive.

That being said Nintendo has a lot more experience both from a hardware and software perspective so they are very hard to out-compete. The biggest indicator of that to me is the dearth of titles that are easy to do a few minutes on with a Switch/etc versus the kinds of games I have on my Vita which typically are better for something like a long flight or car ride.


- Using it doesn't feel as smooth as my times with a (3)DS or even the original PSP.

I think the biggest difference is that Vita wasn't clicky; hit a button on a Nintendo handheld, and you get a very pleasant tactile sensation. Pressing a button on Vita felt like you were smooshing the button, which isn't a great experience. The PS3 controller ran into a similar problem because of the analog face buttons it had, but it's not as noticeable on bigger controllers.


I don't care for portable gaming, but Nintendo's portables since the Gameboy Advance have had libraries in many respects better than any contemporary console. Some portion of their success is surely because of the library, and despite their portability (though, yes, many value the portability, I'm sure). I don't know how the controls would work but I'd love something like the Playstation TV (a stripped-down Vita that plugs into a TV and uses Playstation 3 or 4 controllers) for the GBA-3DS libraries (yeah I know about the add-on for the gamecube but that's just the GBA, plugging in non-HDMI devices is getting increasingly inconvenient, and Gamecube-era hardware's starting to get pretty janky)


Analogue is doing a "gameboy" with an HD screen which has the possibility to be plugged on a TV, it's called the Analogue Pocket. It will play gameboy and gameboy advance games with near perfect emulation (thanks to FPGA).

Their previous products are great so I can't wait to get this one. It should be released this year.


There are people working on it for the GBA.

https://www.retrorgb.com/gba-consolizer-an-hdmi-720p-gba-kit...



>releasing a system with PS4 / Xbox One level power in a portable form factor

The reason the Switch doesn't hit PS4/XBox One levels of power is because it's hard to hit that mark while staying within weight considerations, having decent battery life, and also coming in at the price points console gamers intend to pay (<$400).

It seems like they're trying to back into it by turning the consoles into in-home gaming servers and have you use your smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc. as a display that the console streams to.


That insight happened 30 years ago. Nintendo's best selling consoles and games have always been portable systems.


I think you're forgetting the massive powerhouse that was the Wii.


Nintendos influence goes very deep into all gaming these days. Portable games started with Game-n-Watch and Gameboy, NES started off the popularity of game consoles, etc.


Wii was the third best seller, and the only non-portable in the top 5.


It's true, but compared to its seventh-gen contemporaries (the 360 and PS3), it sold about 15m more than either.

(The Wii U, on the other hand, sold abysmally.)


Sony made several portable gaming devices (PSP, PS vita, PSN compatible phone).

The market didn’t really care for them.

Which makes sense. People already have a phone, they don’t want an additional thing to carry around. People want a flagship phone, not a worse phone that’s more expensive because it can play some exclusive games.

The Nintendo switch was the right form factor, but only Nintendo has the IP to pull it off. If MS or Sony were to make a Switch-like, it’d fail much like the nvidia shield has.


> Sony made several portable gaming devices... The market didn’t really care for them.

Except for the PSP, which sold 81 million units.


Yes, you picked the one that did well, which also happens to be the one that sold before ubiquitous smartphones were a thing. I wonder if there’s a relationship.

Still have mine for LocoRoco and FF Tactics.


I immediately sold my DS to fund getting a PSP as it actually had decent games I wanted to play with much better graphics. Now that I have a job, I'd love to buy a Switch, but again...not very many games that are really appealing as I haven't been big into Pokemon and games in that arena since Red came out. I think Doom and Diablo III and Skyrim are good to see, but I'd need to see more in that arena.


Some Indie games are just great on it too. I played through Hollow Knight, Blasphemous and Dead Cells far more than I would have done if I got them on PC or PS4. They were fairly cheap too.


The PSP did fairly well.

The Vita on the other hand, I maintain it was the high cost of the proprietary memory cards (combined with the high price tag of $250 for the console upon launch) that sealed its fate. They should have been giving those memory cards away for free (or used SD) because the online shop would have blown up. Instead they pigeonholed themselves by using more Sony proprietary cards and no one could afford the thing _on top of_ a cell phone.

The Vita has excellent games and it's my second biggest collection, behind the Switch.


> I wonder if they collected data from the 3DS and WiiU and could tell that playtime on portable systems was orders of magnitude greater on portables.

My school took us on a tour of companies with west coast offices that were looking for data talent. Nintendo was one of them. We met with their data science team. It was... one guy. For all of Nintendo of America. He was trying to get it to two guys.

I think very highly of nintendo's management because they're very willing to try zany things and fail (ring fit, wii, wii u, switch, nintendo labo, two screen ds, 3ds, etc. etc.). I find their games to be excellent and their hardware to be way more interesting than competitors. They're not really a video game company so much as a toy company at heart. And they are definitely not data driven.


I think one of the biggest not-talked-about factors that has contributed to Nintendo's and Switch's success has been the amount of exclusives, especially in modern times.

Looking at the PS4 and XBOX debate, going forward the architectures of these two consoles will be increasingly similar, which is translating to a very low amount of exclusives for each platform. This is harsh as exclusives used to be one of the best signals for console performance.

With Switch focusing on portability infra + Nintendo's strong portfolio of exclusive IPs, its a winning combo for sure.


I think you hit the nail on the head with exclusive titles. Nintendo console are worth owning if not only for the ability to play the Mario and Zelda franchises, but when you add in Smash Brothers, Pokemon, and all the other titles people love, it is a truly unique offering. I've been loving Super Mario Maker 2.


I don't think architecture has been the driving factor for console exclusives as much as intellectual property. MS and Sony have been in an acquisition war for studios for years in order to lock down exclusive IP. This is a pretty costly enterprise because Sony and MS have to buy and maintain entire companies to produce exclusive IP.


Umm, you should check that thought. The architecture of the main consoles before ps4 and Xbone were insanely different. This is coming from folks in the industry.

The reason they were locking down studios is exactly because of the hard road of making some game for both consoles. You have it backwards.


It's become a cliche that Sony and MS focus on specs while Nintendo focuses on content and experience.


>It's remarkable how their fundamental "lateral" insight of the last decade was so blindingly obvious in this age of the smartphone - portability is king

Amen to that. I pretty much only have time to play on the go, so the fact that Xbox and Sony (don't even get me started on how they treated the Vita...) have completely given up on portability means I'll never purchase another Sony or MS console again. Simple as that. I want to play portably, and Nintendo has consistently been the best at it.

Currently I've been really into the PSP scene that I missed (because I was too busy on my DS at the time), and I've caught up on a few years of Vita releases already. They really are some great systems, and I cannot believe in this age of "entertainment everywhere" that two of the three titans in video game consoles couldn't care less about portable gameplay.


If your gaming PC is gathering dust but you play the switch, you probably are falling for the marketing.

PC has nearly every game switch has, and more.

Nintendo is a big marketing company, advertising when you were a child and unaware. Now people nostalgia and automatically but their products.

My best example of this is BOTW which is an average game, but the fans have claimed it's the greatest game of all time. (Which people have been saying about Zelda since TP)


Game quality is of course subjective, but if you think BOTW was average I have no idea what you think an above average game is... Maybe saying it wasn't to your taste (too easy or handholding or something) would have been more accurate.


So, I have an 8 year old. The switch is probably the most fun couch gaming we can do together. We also have an xbox and a pc for games, and we usually ignore them both in favor of Nintendo exclusives. Pokemon, BOTW, Smash Bros.

It's honestly a really good co-op couch experience. And when we go on road trips, it's better than the days when we would load up a fat crt tv in my parent's van and plug in the SNES.

Also, if I'm working in my office, he can bring the switch into the room with me and play while I work. Portable is nice.


Are you me from the future? I could have posted this exact same comment and have it been true for my 10 and 4 year olds. And while I admit I may be suffering from nostalgia, but I have super great memories of playing SNES in my parents can on trips.

I do most of my non-kid time gaming on my pc, but I think the Switch is a great console.


Sure for kids the switch can’t be beat. But the best games are all on Sony (some on PC too) Witcher 3, horizon zero down, god of war, uncharted 4, the last of us, persona 5, nier automata, assassins creed oddysey, red dead redemption 2, Spider-Man, etc.


Your list, with the exception of Persona 5 and somewhat Nier, are all games in the same, 3rd-person-open-world-AAA action/adventure genre. Claiming that ‘the best games’ are all one only one platform and that they are all in the exact same genre says much more about personal preference than the quality of game play experience on various consoles and PC.

— Edited a typo —


Rereading my comment, I see that I underplayed how important the portability of the switch is to me.


You seem to be confusing your opinion with fact here.


I think this is a bait, but, I'm curious: if BOTW is average, could you provide me with ~25 above average games? I would love to add them to my library and play them. Or even just 15?


I don’t think I would describe Breath of the Wild as average, but it probably falls under my top 10 most times I consider such a list. I could probably get to 15 games I find better, all of which are older than BotW. I’ll list some of you really are interested.


Let me guess, you've been playing Zelda since you were a child.


It would be a stretch to say that’s, I did not own any Zelda games before Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 (I didn’t even like it enough to finish it), I had played some of them via rentals. I also have not played any of the Zelda series after Ocarina of Time. So, just for context I have owned consoles, handhelds, and had a PC to play games on since 1986, so it’s not like I did not play games during my childhood, but the Zelda series was never really one of them.


Sure, btw this list has a lot of 2, you don't need to play the originals.

Assassin's Creed 2, Bioshock, borderlands 2, call of duty modern warfare 2, (divinity Original sin, combat was great, hated the puzzles), doom 2016, elder scrolls (hardcore start with Morrowind, otherwise oblivion), fable, factorio, fallout 3, far cry 3, Gris(short, get it on sale), half life 2, magika, shadow of Mordor and war, saints row 1 and maybe 2, the Stanley parable, Kotor 1, Minecraft(and Terraria if you have someone to do coop with), maybe West of loathing.

Those are at least botw tier.


But the question was, if Breath of the Wild is average, what are _above_ average games, in your eyes?

I could, personally, point out about half of that list that I found just... dull, compared to Zelda. But games are subjective, so I'll let you enjoy what you enjoy!


I've played most of those and BotW ranks right along with them.

For an initial experience, I'd say few of those topped that of BotW (Bioshock and Doom 2016 maybe, Morrowind and Kotor 1 Definitely).

Longer-term I'd say BotW ends up somewhere along the games you mentioned. Not as good as the best of them, but not as bad as the worst of them (Oblivion, CoD).

Anyways, definitely not below that list. And that's a conservative assessment, I'd say.


I've played about half of those and the only games that have gotten as many hours out of me as BOTW in the last decade or two have been KOTOR and Mass Effect 1/2. The Fallouts in particular were huge letdowns to me (Fallout 2 was a key formative game).

You can disagree, of course, but in being declarative about it you overestimate the broadness of your own taste in style, I think. For instance, twenty years ago I was the one arguing with my friends about how Majora's Mask was overrated and there were so many better games on PC...


I'm pretty sure that a significant portion of the developers for those mentioned games may not strongly agree with your opinion.


I think the industrial design of the Switch has a very smooth “fun per minute of setup” and I think that’s a big edge it has for families with younger children.

Or, a user doesn’t need to set up a computer and install a digital client like Steam. Switching input mappings is easy, and taking the entire device with those same input mappings to another room is simply picking things up. I love to play games on a computer, but it takes a lot more work compared to a console, let alone the Switch. I think that’s why it’s kept such a strong attach rate.


as a lifelong pc gaming and hardware enthusiast, I've never had much interest in consoles. imo, a good PC is a far better platform to enjoy most singleplayer experiences as well as "serious" multiplayer games.

there's one use case where the PC really sucks though: playing games with other people in the same room. handing around a controller for a singleplayer game or splitscreen multiplayer is much more natural. back in the day, LAN parties where everyone brought over their laptop were a lot of fun, but it's an undeniably clunky experience.

the cpu heatsink in my main pc alone weighs more than twice as much as a switch+joycons. the platforms address very different use cases.


I don't really see how the Switch is a good case of this lateral thinking, nor withered technology. They just got nVidia to make them a powerful gaming tablet, something nVidia was push hard to sell at the time. In this way they were able to continue to dominate the mobile market and hedge their console strategy.


The SoC (Tegra X1) was released in 2013.

The Switch came out in 2017.

So it's not really that new.

Also Nvidia has failed to sell it to the tablet/mobile market.


They sold to Nintendo so I see it as a major success. Any way I look at it, Nintendo is using the switch hardware as originally intended. I guess you could say any use of older tech counts but I don't think that's as much in the spirit of the article as, say, the Wii's use of RF for motion tracking.


I think it’s more that the commodity smartphone technologies were used “laterally” to make a game console that can be played portability. Or, smartphones have been iterating on graphics chipsets since the 3DS was released, so it seems sensible to capitalize on them in a way that a smartphone wasn’t going to.

I think it worked really well for Nintendo too, as they’re very much still a toy company compared to Sony or Microsoft. The budgets for handheld games were likely going to be bigger compared to the DS and 3DS for the next decade, so it makes sense to start to look at them as the same as console game development.


Love it. Tech has been so obsessed with "the next Facebook" for the last 15 years that there have been thousands of useful concepts lying on the table. While everyone jumped from mobile to wearables to AR to machine intelligence, there are billion-dollar companies that amount to little more than a CRUD framework, a few innovations, and intelligent marketing/strategy/advisory.

It gives me hope for the future - if we can get more people from various walks of life to learn how to code and appreciate technology, there is so much more we can do. Of course, that "if" has always been a huge challenge.


Ironically Facebook uses PHP, which definitely falls into the "withered" tech category.


Wouldn't facebook fall under this category? It was originally just the universities head shots and a login.


Got some examples?


I can think of SalesForce, asana and others in the glorified crud category. Slack and similar chatting apps are just IRC for then common user, yet it worked seeing their valuations.


My experience with SalesForce is that it is way more complicated than a simple CRUD app.


serviceNow and workday are two ‘unsexy’ companies that are huge.


Even when they did ship with more cutting edge power and tech, they approached it as if they didn't have it.

It partly comes from the video game things being a bit of a gamble and side project to keep the company alive. "Success under constraint."

And not it's a bit of an intentional handicap, like setting a horsepower cap on a racecar. Anyone can go fast and make something spectacular with unlimited power, but when bleeding edge graphics aren't even available for you to waste time considering, you have to finds new ways to make your game "fun".

You have to think of new control schemes, new mechanics, endearing art styles, etc. You can't just melt faces (and wallets) with the visuals.


Fancy literature but in the end it says little. There is a simple way to put it. Sometimes an era has missed some of the innovations it could have done and spends too much time caring only about the core technology but it might be beneficial to stay a little more and innovate on the general design rather than just the core technology.


What strikes me about Nintendo is that their hardware quality is rather lacking. Maybe I'm spoiled by Apple et al., but my Switch feels quite the opposite of premium in the hand.

More to the point of the article, however: while Nintendo does use "withered" technology, perhaps it's too withered. The Switch uses an ARM-based CPU/GPU SoC from 2015: obsolete before the Switch came out! The GameBoy Color, released in 1998, was the first GameBoy to feature a non-monochrome display: a feature the Sega GameGear had, with its 8-bit color and a backlit display, in 1990.

Nintendo seems to be consistently about a decade behind the current standard of technology, but they innovate in such clever and serendipitous ways that their "Ludditism" is easy to forgive.


> What strikes me about Nintendo is that their hardware quality is rather lacking. Maybe I'm spoiled by Apple et al., but my Switch feels quite the opposite of premium in the hand.

The Switch is neat and tidy rather than premium exactly, but I do remember the first time I picked up a DS Lite. I was really impressed. The DS Lite (unlike the original DS, DSi, or 3DS) had a double-skinned cover with a thin transparent plastic shell over the coloured one, which gave it a lovely sheeny appearance, and everything just fit together beautifully. The audio design was a delight as well. I loved that this quality was lavished on something "for kids", and that it was so unlike the sort of sterile metallic slabs that companies like Apple would spend the next decade and more designing.


I completely agree. Maybe it's shallow but I could not muster any interest in the original hamburger DS, but as soon as I saw the Lite I wanted one. And I still love that design language and feel, especially in Crystal White.

It's a great way to get a premium feel out of cheap materials. I wish more modern (cheaper) electronics would learn from what Nintendo has been able to do.


That's called double shot injection molding. The cheaper Nokia Lumia phones use it to great effect. A bunch of products also use clear plastic with the inside surface painted to get a similar depth effect (think Apple Magic Mouse).


I actually almost mentioned the Nokia phones - the Lumia 620 with its exchangeable double-shot rounded plastic backs (and near-perfect form factor in hand, with a 3.8" screen) may be the nicest phone I've ever used, as a pure physical object, despite being among the cheapest. Pity about the screen though - and, some might argue, what appeared on it, at least in terms of apps.

This sort of design for joy rather than for prestige, reassurance, solidity, sensation of quality engineering, etc is what you hope for from Nintendo. They do have a pretty decent track record at it, and their most successful designs in that respect are also some of their biggest hits.


Yeah, I think the iPhone 5c, especially in combination with those punched-hole cases, hit this spot to a degree, but the market apparently disagreed and they went back to prestige.

Teenage Engineering does joy better than anyone else I can think of, but it's impressive when the huge companies do any of it. Remember when dumb mobile phones became commodity enough that industrial designers really got creative? Thinking KDDI in Japan, especially the Infobar. Some manufacturers still do that but don't have the software chops to complete the thought.


What strikes me about Nintendo is that their hardware quality is rather lacking. Maybe I'm spoiled by Apple et al., but my Switch feels quite the opposite of premium in the hand.

I'm not sure quality is the issue, all of my old Nintendo consoles still work years later (SNES, GBA SP, Gamecube), they simply seem to eschew cutting-edge (and often less reliable) technology.

I've owned four Xbox 360s, three PS1s, two PS2s and two PS3s...there's often a price to pay for packing too much new technology into a game console.


The joycons will unfortunately break with use to the point Nintendo now replaces them for free in the USA outside of warranty if they have stick drift. The joycons are essentially a badly designed disposable part.

If you want to play your switch in a decade buy the Pro controller.


> I'm not sure quality is the issue, all of my old Nintendo consoles still work years later (SNES, GBA SP, Gamecube), they simply seem to eschew cutting-edge (and often less reliable) technology.

There is a very well known issue with Switches analog sticks failing en masse, with people having to replace them after short period of time, less than a year.

And since Nintendo uses Apple approach to pricing, the replacement joycons are insanely expensive.


It's noteworthy precisely because it's relatively unusual for Nintendo.

I mean, I'm one of the ones complaining about stuff like this, but I also have a NES, SNES, GC, and their peripherals working like a charm. Meanwhile my Xbox 360 just randomly stopped working and my original Xbox died a long time ago.

I can't speak for the quality of ps4 or Xbone controllers (seems fine?), but as far as intensely-used technology goes Nintendo does vastly better than most hardware.

(I also still have a working Gameboy, which puts it alongside only a Nokia phone I have as far as durability goes. That piece of tech has SEEN things).

EDIT: I will say the joy-cons definitely aren't the best Nintendo has put out, but the problems there pale in comparison to the D-Pad issues we've had GC-on.


That's the point of the article: If you're using "obsolete" or at least older stuff, all the potential unknowns have long been known so everything is much more predictable. That they succeed despite using older tech suggests that the level of the technology isn't the be-all-end-all for many people.


The Switch isn't supposed to feel premium. It's a toy for children. I think there's a quote from someone at the company to the effect of "our audience is children (even if their age indicates otherwise), we want to give them something that feels fun enough, but it shouldn't get in the way of the games"


Also overlooked is that this strategy backfires on Nintendo nearly as often as it succeeds.

The Wii may have sold a lot of units, but it didn’t get _played_ as much as its contemporaries in large part due to the fact that Nintendo refused to release a high-def version, right when the world dumped all their old TVs en masse.

The Wii U nearly sunk the damn company. If the 3DS hadn't been popular, Nintendo would be where Sega is by now.

It's fine, excellent in fact, to go with tried-and-true tech, but you also need the foresight to see what's inadequate.


If the 3DS hadn't been popular, Nintendo would be where Sega is by now.

This is revisionist. Nintendo is a pile of cash with a game development arm attached. Unlike SEGA, Nintendo could release a thousand unpopular consoles and still keep going.


A premium feel device like Apple feels like a mistake for a device who's audience is largely children. How many people have you seen with iphones with cracked screens? While it's very solid feeling, and yes, better protected against getting scratched by keys, I would wager while the switch is more likely to sustain cosmetic damage (scratches, chips, flaked paint) than an iphone, an iphone is more likely to suffer catastrophic screen failure when dropped. Plastic just doesn't shatter the same way glass does.


I fully agree. For me, it's not the performance of the switch that is the problem. It's the build quality and the software quality.

For example, my joy cons have problem with losing their connection or having input lag when reception is lacking. I've seen this on other switches too, so it's not only mine. Compare this to my Xbox 360 controllers, I can walk to a different room and still play without this issue. This is just bad/cheap design.

Games are forced to use vsync, even when it ruins the game. Rocket League has much more input lag, compared to other hardware due to this. Actually lots of Switch games have more input lag than for other systems. Nintendo could care about what quality other developers are allowed to publish, but they don't.

The build quality of the switch itself is also so-so. The screen has low contrast, the wifi doesn't have great reception. Let's not even get started on the usb design.

All this would be okay, if the hardware and software was really cheap, but it isn't.


As GameGear owner, the set of batteries could hardly hold a couple of hours playing Sonic, meaning I used to play a portable device usually plugged in, while the GameBoy would last days.


GameBoy lasted weeks. I remember reading that it lasted about 40h.


They fully compensate hardware with portability and the most polished titles you can find. Also, their first-party games look better on 720p switch display then like 98% of all games on 4k displays.

You can make the best hardware possible, but practically no companies can achieve Nintendo level quality.


Some of the first party titles are polished, some isn't. Most third party isn't. It's a sad state of semi-decent hardware with low quality software overall.

If you're only going to play a selected few Nintendo Games, such as Zelda, Mario and Mariokart, sure. But to be honest here, Zelda and Mario isn't very nice to play portable. Doing boss fights portable is certainly possible, but also so much harder.

I really wanted to like my switch, I really wanted to like the portable experience, but in the end I realized that portable works best for slow indie games and docked works best for a few first party games.

I probably would have enjoyed a cheap Xbox One and a used Playstation Vita more.


I hope you are kidding or you have not played anything outside of Nintendo.

Even some indies look better than the best Nintendo titles.


>Maybe I'm spoiled by Apple et al., but my Switch feels quite the opposite of premium in the hand.

The Switch also has an MSRP of $300. The iPod Touch is about $200, but for a much less complicated piece of hardware that gets to draft on the volume discounts from producing the iPhone.


i have a lot of complaints about nintendo, but nintendo's only console to be well ahead of their competitors' offerings in terms of hardware was one of their worst competing consoles, in terms of sales. and that's the gamecube. so it hasn't made and doesn't make commercial sense for them to heavily invest in the underlying hardware.

ever since the gamecube, and maybe before then, nintendo has been on a divergent path from the likes of other console makers. they do not seek to compete in hardware power.

nintendo's true problems lie in online and cloud services, like account management and online multiplayer, and just pure laziness in game development and implementation. they get away with it somehow.


> pure laziness in game development

Ah you're one of those "how do they keep getting away with making more Mario games?" people.

The secret is that they don't release mainline games very often. You don't get a new one every year. You get one every 3-4 (or Metroid 6-10) years.

And when you do get a new installment it's just as fun and joyful as the previous ones.

They do need to get their shit in gear with the online stuff though. And emulation. They could and probably should acquihire a few companies to deal with those. If they made their entire back-catalog available on an official emulator that works one this and the next generation console, they'd be set forever.

Though they've already got enough cash in the bank to run for 50 years even if they stopped all new sales.


Purchased "virtual console" games should work on every future console of theirs, without a re-purchase, tied to some kind of Nintendo account. That's what's kept me from spending money on those. Did buy both Classic consoles, though, which are some of the best value on all of gaming. Damn they're good.


When was the last Metroid game that is "just as fun and joyful as the previous ones"? Metroid has had a tough 20 years or so. Last I checked Nintendo released a poorer version of a remake some fan released a year earlier.


I genuinely enjoyed Other M. I've always preferred the third-person platformer style for the franchise (Super Metroid is still the best installment in the series) and I thought Other M was faithful to this heritage while adding some more modern twists.


Man, 100% opposite opinion -- I thought Other M was terrible, particularly the writing and pacing.


I didn't realize Zero Mission was already 16 years old, but I'd say that was a pretty good, albeit short Metroid game.


Zero Mission ruined things that made Metroid excellent. It's just not obvious on the first playthrough. Unlike previous Metroid games, you can't really do Zero Mission out of order. There's a path you have to follow and if you go elsewhere the road is blocked by Chozo statues, that weren't present in the original game.


While I agree it's a core element of Metroid, and I completely understand how it would bother many fans, but for me this is one of the less-essential aspects of Metroid. But it's possible that much of my initial enjoyment was because I had played Metroid Fusion before that, which is much worse as a Metroid (while still fun as a game).

It could also be because I got 'hooked' on Metroid because of Metroid Prime, and IIRC that one also was a bit more linear by virtue of the hint system.


Yes, Metroid III (SNES) was the last game in the series that let you go off track. I've played through it many times and never took the exact same route. Everytime it's a new experience. It's unfortunate that the games that came later copied pretty much everything from Metroid III except for this.


> Ah you're one of those "how do they keep getting away with making more Mario games?" people.

no, i'm not. that's not what i'm talking about at all. what i'm talking about are poor features within their games, which are typically centered around the online and multiplayer aspects but also others as well. for example, the new animal crossing: new horizons is chock-full of these types of things. their games are indeed fun but they can also contain extremely frustrating elements. nintendo's fanbase is even more rabid than the likes of apple, and so frustrating elements get washed out, so to speak, in the community.

and as you point out, these games undergo long development cycles. it's generally unacceptable that they don't take care of these issues or add on more to their games.


It's easy to dismiss fandom as just for the sake of it. I've heard it about Apple and Nintendo and in both cases it just seems like a lazy way to dismiss other people valuing things differently. Mostly, anyways.

I'm a huge Nintendo fan because, despite glaring problems, the kind that warrant a special Nintendo-specific eye-roll, their games and consoles also offer stuff others don't. The highs make the lows tolerable.

I absolutely hate so much about New Horizons, and most of it is 'typical' Nintendo. Bad online/multiplayer, endless repetitive dialogue gating core functionality, and weird hardware limitations (two people on one Switch? enjoy a single shared island!).

And yet here I am playing it about as much as I played Stardew Valley back when that was 'hot'.

Do you really think that I and so many others are spending hours playing a game with so many flaws just because it's Nintendo?


> It's easy to dismiss fandom as just for the sake of it. I've heard it about Apple and Nintendo and in both cases it just seems like a lazy way to dismiss other people valuing things differently. Mostly, anyways.

i find the "people value things differently" a lazy way to dismiss objective issues people have with the products.

> Do you really think that I and so many others are spending hours playing a game with so many flaws just because it's Nintendo?

in a way yes. i'm playing the game too btw. i'll stop soon because the stuff i feel they were lazy and/or stubborn on is starting to really wear on me. if they would have just applied even a modicum of effort to the multiplayer aspect and upgrades to the game, then animal crossing: new horizons would be an amazing game. instead, families are out buying entire new switch consoles just to be able to enjoy a game, among other things. so please tell me what other gaming company could get away with that? just the one-to-one relationship between island and console alone is enough to go insane, not to mention how confusing it is to understand before purchasing a switch and game in the first place. what other modern game do you know of that's like that, where a game instance / save file is forever tied to a single console? that's just one issue. i honestly do not know of a single company that could get away with it besides nintendo because (1) people have to come to expect inanity from them in these aspects and (2) since it's nintendo.

other companies, that people don't like, like activision, EA, ubisoft, etc., will get raked over the coals if they do something gamers don't like. of course, a lot of that is with microtransactions these days, which are horrible, but they will also get called out on other aspects. usually, those companies will at least attempt to address it because they're forced to. nintendo only addresses what they want, and they absolutely refuse to address online play in a sensible way. and their fanbase just roles with it and will downplay issues. they have online issues in every single game they release, and it nearly ruins the games. it's why i don't play splatoon, mario kart, or super smash online much or at all anymore. they make it way too difficult to do so, so much so that i stop playing the wonderful games.


I also hate a lot about the new Animal Crossing, yet it's outrageously addictive and fun. I love the game, flaws and all. Just makes me wish they'd let a switch have one island per player FFS.


They did bungle this last Pokemon though. But that's just as much in the Pokemon Company as Nintendo.

It should have been a true open world, with real-time battles. Basically Breath of the Wild, but you can deploy Pokemon instead of different weapons.


Do not conflate Pokémon with Nintendo. The situation is way more complex. Game Freak, the actual developers of Pokémon, are a laughably small team for what is the biggest franchise in the world, and they refuse to get bigger or change the formula. Pokémon is the epitome of Japanese conservatism.


Nintendo's game development is the exact opposite of lazy. They spend insane amounts of attention and manpower on the fine details. That's exactly how they keep succeeding despite lower power, poor cloud services, etc.


> They spend insane amounts of attention and manpower on the fine details.

no, they do not. they do on a very focused subset of what they feel the details should be, but they do not broadly apply this attention to fine detail across the entirety of a game. there are always very harsh transitions from "wow, look at this detail" to "what, how did this even make it into the game?" that really stand out.

there is something with every game beyond being considered a feature request that can only be attributed to either laziness or stubbornness or both.


That and constantly failing €70 controllers.


It could be perceived quality, since Nintendo is notable for their build quality. There are many stories of their devices having survived years of abuse (I’m talking Gameboys that still work after falling out of a bus).


To be fair, this has had gaps. The GBA SP and original DS were notably less durable than the devices that came before or after. The hinge design was relatively fragile especially with the mechanism being exposed even when closed and relying on relatively narrow plastic straps.

They also felt the need for the original 2DS as a more child safe design than the original 3ds. The 2DS XL on the other hand has a very thin top shell - even I've managed to break a screen on one by putting a laptop on top of it in a bag.

The gameboy series, original 2ds/3ds and DSi are tanks though.


There's a Game Boy in the Nintendo store in New York that was in the Gulf War, the plastic is badly burned but the console is still on and playing Tetris.


In some ways it's smart. They wait and see what the market wanted and then present the most polished version of that. They do this in game design and in console design.

Other benefits would include: easier to develop for due to familiarity, better battery efficiency (as opposed to gamegear), and lower manufacturing costs as well.

Likely the know that the experience matter more than the hardware. Which is something the original mac got right too, as it wasn't very powerful either.


Compared to the SE? Yes

Compared to the 7 which feels like a flimsy piece of trash? Meh they both feel about the same.


What do you consider as premium? The switch is a toy for children. So it should be robust, reliable and cheap enough. The switch does serve this very well IMHO.

Additionally, Apple is bigger, selling significant more units of their devices, which are also more expensive, while having a better standing in the industry. Nintendo on the other side was taking a gamble on whether the switch would even sell good enough to survive. So price-calculation for both companies is quite different, with apple having more money to invest in premium than nintendo.

Maybe the rumored switch pro some day will up nintendos premium-game?


It is hardly reliable, given how great of a percentage of people have drift issues, as well as obvious oversights in the joycon build: overly long flat cables that have to be bent 180deg and end up breaking, use of a plastic that is clearly not meant for continuous direct handling since it quickly stains with sweat/skin oiliness. As well as the dock being literally too tight, causing the screen to scratch due to the support beams.

I don't even mind it not feeling "premium" whatever that means, but those are reasonably basic things to consider in material choice. I don't mind that when the joycon is attached, I can sort of flex the connection bar, or that the screen plastic itself is very soft to be scratched, as long as the hardware doesn't essentially try to kill itself.


Their games cost the premium. They bait you with cheap hardware but charge 60$ forever.


pretty true. I was shopping on the e-store for some stuff to play with my wife and was surprised seeing all the games for full price. Fuckin narcs.


> Maybe I'm spoiled by Apple et al., but my Switch feels quite the opposite of premium in the hand.

Does everyone still feel this way about Apple?

I still can remember the first iPhone I had. The 3G just felt really great in my hand. I probably played with that more than a 13yo will play with his balls. Then the first retina and machined metal feel. It all felt like this was the top of the phone world. But ever since then the iPhone just feels like another phone. I don't feel anything special about the X as its just another in long line of iPhones. I stick with apple because I like iOS compared to how android behaves. Apple could make a plastic phone and I wouldn't care or think less of it.

The switch on the other hand I am enthralled with. My wife, at 40, has gotten into gaming because of it. I'm sure if Nintendo partnered with Apple it would be a highly machined and precisely designed piece of hardware, but I would find it hard to believe it would matter.

I guess what I'm saying is I no longer associate quality of a product with the materials as long as they don't break on me. My switch has lasted 3 years which is about a year longer than any iPhone I've had where I've wanted to upgrade because the phone feels slower than it used to.


My Switch is quite irritating. Every week it starts to drift and then the drifting stops after 20 min. It started doing this after maybe two months of light use and I'm extremely careful with my gear.

Also, the ergonomics, which I didn't think would bother me, is really bad. I can play hours with the Switch Pro controller, and 30 min with the regular controller before my hands hurt. I don't know if it's because I'm old, but the Gameboy Color never bothered my hands like this.


Probably because the GameBoy Colour only had 2+2 buttons and a D-pad.


In a weird way, I think Nintendo's approach is basically "Zero to One" to differentiate from competitors, but doing it with cheaper hardware to reduce costs.

I'm not a gamer, but from a business perspective I'm intrigued with their approach.


Hmm I'm not sure if Zero to One fits into what Nintendo does - maybe the Wii was (arguably the N64).

Nintendo main differentiation revolves around their IP, which they manage to refresh with every new console release by making some console feature into a game mechanic (and the gameplay revolves around it).

You can see good examples of it in their hardware accessories for games, where they don't feel like gimmicks, yet on other consoles some accessories do feel like it.



This does backfire for them in certain cases though, especially in terms of networking. All of their games are still on a built-out peer2peer implementation they acquired in 2008 and it shows how much it holds them back - anyone that played a Nintendo online game on switch knows what I mean (no, 30 NES games I played on my Wii aren't a consolation).

Let's not even talk about friend codes in 2020.


Didn't Nintendo drop this philosophy the moment Gunpei left to work on a GameBoy competitor for Bandai and pushed out the GBC? Or was it after Gunpei died in a car accident shortly after? The NGC also didn't follow this philosophy and neither did the GBA. It wasn't until the Wii/NDS era, when they kind of brought it back.


We perceive Nintendo as working under the principles of Yokoi because he wrote his vision in a book. The reality is more complicated.


"the Oculus Rift’s two most important components are a cheap smartphone screen and a pair of fifty cent lenses"

I got a smartphone and a VR headset to put it in. Yes they are cheap, but the experience is completely different from the Rift.

These may be the most fundamental parts, but they are not what makes the Rift a good VR set.


“These two withered parts allowed for mainstream pricing ($350) and freed the team to work on peripheral innovations like decreasing latency and refining positional tracking.”

The focus on decreasing latency is arguably what differentiated the Rift early on: https://www.wired.com/2014/05/oculus-rift-4/


Often the British engineering philosophy, tbh - frugality of necessity.


Yeah, but Nintendo's don't leave oil stains all over the garage.


You can tell which parking spots I use most frequently at my apartment complex based on the size of the oil puddle. Jaguars are an opsec liability


Haven't checked my F-Pace now that you've mentioned it. It's sitting a lot during this quarantine


me parece una excelente idea




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