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.
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.
It feels beautiful.
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.
Here's a bunch of sentences with English translations that use the word:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Their previous products are great so I can't wait to get this one. It should be released this year.
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.
(The Wii U, on the other hand, sold abysmally.)
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.
Except for the PSP, which sold 81 million units.
Still have mine for LocoRoco and FF Tactics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
I do most of my non-kid time gaming on my pc, but I think the Switch is a great console.
— Edited a typo —
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.
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!
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you want to play your switch in a decade buy the Pro controller.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can make the best hardware possible, but practically no companies can achieve Nintendo level quality.
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.
Even some indies look better than the best Nintendo titles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 7 which feels like a flimsy piece of trash? Meh they both feel about the same.
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?
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.
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.
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.
I'm not a gamer, but from a business perspective I'm intrigued with their approach.
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.
Let's not even talk about friend codes in 2020.
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.
The focus on decreasing latency is arguably what differentiated the Rift early on: