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Nintendo Switch name finally explained

by Ron Duwell | December 7, 2016December 7, 2016 11:30 am PDT

Naming a console can be tough work. I remember when the GameCube was originally called the Dolphin, and somewhere along the line, Nintendo came up with the divisive name for the Wii U. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aimé got on stage and essentially said that this is a console that “Wii” love and “u” who have yet to come around to Nintendo will like it too.

Or some such nonsense.

At any rate, the Nintendo Switch is the best-named console from Nintendo in quite a while. It’s simple, it’s easy to say, it’s easy to type (thanks, Nintendo!), and most importantly, it gets across the point of the console. Nintendo answered a few questions with Japanese magazine Nintendo Dream, and this was their answer as to how the console got its name:

We decided that this name would be the best fit for our product for two reasons. It represents one of the defining features of the Switch, the ability to seamlessly ‘switch’ between the TV screen and Switch’s screen, while also embodying the idea of being a ‘switch’ that will flip, and change the way people experience entertainment in their daily lives.

We wanted to show people just how much of an enjoyable difference it will make in their entertainment experiences, by having them see and hear for themselves what it can do in an easy-to-digest manner. It allows people to enjoy a home console experience not only in front of a TV, but in rooms with no TV, or outside altogether. And because the controllers are detachable from the main body of the console, each of its forms offer different play experiences for people to enjoy.

There’s a lot in a name, isn’t there?

Nintendo’s history with names is a mixed bag, but the Switch is on the higher end of the spectrum. There was the Nintendo Entertainment System, which was about a simple as a name can be for a new brand, and then the Super Nintendo had a name that expressed that it was more powerful.

By the time the Nintendo 64 rolled around, everyone knew what a”bit” was after years of the “Bit Wars,” and 64 was certainly a lot more bits than 16. The GameCube? You play games in a console that’s shaped like a cube… I mean, that’s what it is, so it kind of works. It’s almost as charmingly innocent as the word “PlayStation.”

And then we come to the Wii. At the time of its announcement, it seemed like a really horrible name for a video game console. Many people either pictured a baby going down a slide or the urge to hold off urinating. However, Nintendo ultimately proved to be the genius in the room since it capitalized on the popularity of the lower-case “i” without Apple raising a fuss.

Yeah, just let that one sink in for a second. Strangely enough, Nintendo Switch is written in all capital letters, meaning the company has moved on from lower-case “i’s.” Think Apple will follow suit?


Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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