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What Will Happen If The Nintendo Switch Fails

A happy and healthy Nintendo makes for a happy and healthy gaming industry, which greatly benefits the consumer — this much we know is true. Fresh off the failure of the Wii U, however, Nintendo is fighting an uphill battle as they launch their new, highly-anticipated handheld console hybrid: the Nintendo Switch. While we certainly hope Nintendo's latest piece of innovative gaming hardware ultimately cements itself as a success, we can't help but wonder: what will happen if the Nintendo Switch fails?

Nintendo could develop a traditional home console

The Nintendo Switch is obviously underpowered when compared to its competitors in the home console space — Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One. With the fairly recent mid-cycle launch of both the souped-up Xbox One S and more powerful PlayStation 4 Pro, and with Microsoft's beastly Project Scorpio on the horizon, Nintendo clearly couldn't give a toss about joining the home-console arms race.

Instead of wowing us with 4K resolution and high dynamic range, the Switch aims to impress as a juiced-up, dedicated-gaming handheld which easily connects to your television — providing the additional home-console experience almost as an added bonus. The Switch is undoubtedly innovative — but if it fails, Nintendo would seemingly have no choice but to join the aforementioned arms race.


Imagine, if you will, a home console with technical specifications in line with the PlayStation 4 Pro, but with Nintendo's name on it. Next, imagine playing Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey, and a slew of other superb Nintendo exclusives in 4K resolution, with high dynamic range enabled. Just the very thought makes our eyes fall into a sugary coma of visual bliss. What we'd lose in innovation, we'd more than make up for in visual fidelity — and though we will not see this happen anytime soon, this sort of fantasy could materialize should the Nintendo Switch fail to sell an acceptable number of units.

Nintendo could stop making home consoles altogether

Should the Nintendo Switch fail, a console comparable to the competition's could be Nintendo's next iteration of living room entertainment. However, Nintendo could also take an entirely different route: exiting the home-console hardware business altogether.

It's tough to imagine a future where Nintendo doesn't have some sort of box in your living room. For ages, video games were synonymous with the brand "Nintendo," and — regardless of what console you were playing — your parents probably just said: "Oh, my son's in his bedroom, playing Nintendo." However, those days are well and truly over, with PlayStation and Xbox having firmly established significant brand recognition. And with the meteoric sales of Sony's PlayStation 4 — with Microsoft's Xbox One also selling very, very respectably — Nintendo is in danger of falling out of the running entirely. If the Switch doesn't make a sizable splash, it could be the last Nintendo console we ever see.


Nintendo could become the premiere third-party software developer

The possibility of a Nintendo-less future in the console space is certainly sad, at least when it comes to innovation, but that's not to say it would be all doom and gloom. Should Nintendo ever choose to leave the business of making hardware, they would almost certainly never stop making software. And let's be honest — making amazing games has always been what Nintendo does best. They've never had the most powerful console on the market — with the GameCube being the last one to even remain relatively comparable to its competitors in terms of technical specifications — but Nintendo has always created exceptional games.

The thought of Nintendo-developed games running on PC or future Xbox and PlayStation consoles is tantalizing, to say the least. We can't deny we've marveled at the idea of an open-world Pokémon role-playing game on powerful hardware featuring advanced networks, or playing a version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which features the visual fidelity of Horizon: Zero Dawn. It's downright Utopian, and there are a few roads Nintendo could take if they took this route.


First and foremost, Nintendo could put their games on every platform — spreading the love, building their fan base, and maximizing profits. They could also wage a bidding war, selling exclusivity rights for individual games to the highest bidder. Perhaps the most likely scenario, however, would be that Nintendo tells Sony where to shove their DualShocks and signs a high-profile — and extremely profitable — deal with Microsoft. The bad blood between Sony and Nintendo, resulting from an aborted attempt at a game-changing collaboration, is well-documented by gaming historians — and all but ensures Nintendo would never deal with Sony again. Aligning their banners with Xbox would allow Nintendo to stick it to PlayStation once and for all, while providing Xbox with a boost of near-Biblical proportions.


Of course, it goes without saying that this is all pure speculation — but reasonable speculation, nevertheless.

Nintendo could continue their DS line

Though Nintendo may have had its struggles in some of the recent console wars, the gaming titan has all but dominated the handheld space.

According to Nintendo's own statistics, the sales figures of Nintendo's handhelds are historically astonishing. The 3DS has sold more than 65 million units as of December 31, 2016, with DS sales numbers coming in at a whopping 154 million units! For comparison, Sony has long since stopped officially reporting the PlayStation Vita's sales figures, with the handheld stagnating at an estimated 15 million units worldwide. With Sony's PlayStation Portable being the only dedicated gaming handheld ever to truly challenge their competitor's reign as the kings of portable gaming, Nintendo would be foolish to ever concede space in this segment of the gaming industry. Even with the rise of mobile gaming — in which Nintendo is starting to participate — Nintendo would surely insist on keeping their position as the true leaders of handheld gaming by continuing their extremely successful line of DS devices.


Nintendo would double down on mobile

As of right now, Nintendo is content to merely dip its toes in the mobile waters — planning only to release two or three mobile games per year. Rather than dive headfirst into mobile gaming, Nintendo is smartly planning on releasing exclusively premium-quality games to iOS and Android devices, continuing their long-standing philosophy of quality over quantity. However, should the Nintendo Switch fizzle and ultimately go down in history as just another Wii U, Nintendo would almost certainly wade waist deep into the cesspit...er, cash pit...that is mobile gaming.

With the meteoric success of Pokémon GO, Nintendo is well aware of the money to be had by putting its intellectual property on mobile devices. Despite the game's rather steep drop off, Pokémon GO was a global phenomenon that raked in some serious cash. Should the Nintendo Switch fail, Nintendo will undoubtedly be looking for some easy cash, as well as an increase in investor confidence. Nothing screams easy cash like hooking some whales, and Nintendo sees well enough to know where it can get some cash fast — and we're not talking about dialing 877-CASH-NOW.


Nintendo could transform into a toy company

Amiibos. Love 'em or hate 'em, you better believe Nintendo is raking in some serious dough with their line of collectible figures.

Whether or not you can actually find that one specific Amiibo you really want, there's a good chance that — if you're a Nintendo fan in the United States — you have an Amiibo collection. Far exceeding even Nintendo's expectations, Amiibo's have been a smash hit in a market we aren't particularly accustomed to finding Nintendo products in: the toy market.


It makes sense, really — Nintendo and toys. In many ways, Nintendo's hardware and games feel like toys themselves, and we mean that in the best way possible. Toys are fun, and Nintendo's unique marriage of first-party hardware and software has almost always resulted in fun, toy-like experiences. Given Nintendo's famous lineup of characters, most of which are prominently displayed as Amiibos, it's actually surprising that Nintendo hasn't already ventured deeper into the toy market, creating a line of toys which have — unlike Amiibos — nothing to do with gaming.

Should the Switch fail, Nintendo would undoubtedly rethink and retool its strategy — and taking over the toy market would most definitely be on the ballot.


They could put a deeper focus on plug-and-play consoles

Should the Nintendo Switch fail, Nintendo still has a bag of tricks to reach into.

If there's one thing Nintendo's been doing well over the past year, it's tugging at our nostalgic heartstrings. And nothing brings up childhood memories like playing classic Nintendo hardware. Nintendo's foray into plug-and-play has proven to be a massive success — considering both critical reception and the fact that you still can't buy the damn thing! Of course, we're talking about the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition. Those lucky enough to have snagged one at launch have been more than satisfied — after all, you can play 30 classic, pre-installed NES titles on what feels like the real thing for an insanely reasonable price.


The NES Classic Edition has undoubtedly gone over as well as Nintendo had hoped. Even taking into consideration Nintendo's penchant for manufacturing artificial shortages and driving up consumer demand, there's no denying the fact that no other video game company holds power over our nostalgia more than Nintendo. The possibilities are almost limitless, and it's not unreasonable to assume a Super NES Classic Edition is somewhere on the horizon — only to be followed by an N64 Classic Edition, and potentially a cute little GameCube Classic Edition. Let's not even delve into the added potential of collector's editions!

Nintendo's future in the console space may conceivably die, but nostalgia for the company's past successes never will. We only have one request: please put a longer cord on the controller next time!


Would Nintendo put itself up for sale?

One extreme case exists as a potential outcome of a Nintendo Switch failure, and it's one that we can't ignore. Should the company's new handheld console fail to impress, Nintendo could conceivably cut and run by selling the company to the highest bidder — essentially calling it quits before the going really gets tough.

So who would be in line to wrap their greedy meathooks around Mario and company? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, Disney — who seem like the likeliest suitor as well as the best fit. If anyone knows how to handle intellectual property properly — and successfully — it's Disney, as seen by the success of the Marvel and Star Wars films. With Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and Pokémon at Disney's disposal, the possibilities for these characters outside of gaming would be limitless. (After the Super Mario Bros. movie, Nintendo-themed films have no place to go but up.)


Of course, Disney wouldn't be the only company frothing at the mouth to buy Nintendo. Apple would surely love to claim ownership of the famous gaming company so they could get a stronger foothold in the gaming business. Sony would surely make a bid, but we're guessing Nintendo would rather fall on the sword than admit defeat to their arch-nemesis. It's even possible that Nintendo would sell themselves to Microsoft, just to sock Sony a massive blow beneath the belt.

If there's one thing Nintendo has — besides great intellectual property — it's pride, and it's difficult to imagine the company cutting and running. But still, they say everyone has a price...so you never know.

In reality, nothing would change

Nintendo is Nintendo. And Nintendo will always be Nintendo. They march to the beat of their own drum while refusing to conform to industry norms, and a failed piece of hardware isn't going to change that — at least not yet. Nintendo bleeds innovation, and the industry desperately needs it — even in a time when console gaming is as healthy, if not healthier, than it's ever been. A strong Nintendo is good for everyone, as they maintain balance within the gaming ecosystem, preventing PlayStation and Microsoft from getting too comfortable or remaining too static. Competition is good. Maybe not for the manufacturers, but definitely for us, the consumers.

Nintendo has an incredible track record with hardware, of which we can only truly call the Wii U and Virtual Boy failures. Should the Switch not be so sweet — which is entirely up to speculation this early on — Nintendo's not going to give up. Their war chest is still quite full, and they'd have plenty of options to consider when going back to the drawing board for their next machine.


Based on their past, it's safe to assume that their next console could be a success — even if the Switch isn't. But we sure hope it is.