Console generations might be a staple of gaming’s history, but they also have no place in its future. Both Sony and Microsoft are actively trying to axe the idea from our brains, turning instead to mini-upgrades to their existing machines every other year or so, and this change in plans leaves us, once again, in the hands of Nintendo to carry on the tried and true torch we’ve been using for the last 40 years.
And if Nintendo has anything to say about it, this console generation is going to be an exceptionally long one. Nintendo President Tatsumi Kishima recently stated with Japanese business magazine Nikkei that it intends to keep the Nintendo Switch around much longer than the traditional 5-6 year period it often attains.
Instead, Nintendo plans to support the Switch for as many as 7 to even 10 years!
For comparison’s sake, Nintendo supported the GameCube from 2001-2006, the Wii from 2007-2012, and the Wii U from 2012-2017. Even the Nintendo 64 lasted from 1996-2001 and the Super Nintendo from 1990-1996. Nintendo consoles have traditionally been supported for that same 5-6 year period of time with only the original NES stretching its support for longer, lasting from 1983 in Japan all the way into 1994 or even 1995 in some cases!
As for the Nintendo handhelds though, they’ve generally stuck around for longer periods of time. The original Game Boy launched in 1989 and lasted well into the late 90s and even 2000s thanks to second and third waves from Link’s Awakening and Pokémon respectively. The Game Boy Advance also stuck around to just under a decade, being supported well after its successor launched, and the original Nintendo DS continued to see limited retail success despite its successor releasing to similar success.
If Nintendo is aiming for such an extended period of time for the Switch, mimicking the success of its handhelds is where it wants to be. Nintendo’s handhelds have always thrived on accessibility and a lower pricing point, not so much on the power behind it. The niche market Nintendo has created for itself, one with no competitors and no other comparable devices, looks to be ripe for quite some time.
As long as interest is there, Nintendo should have no trouble keeping its flagship product up and running for the next decade.
And how do we feel about that?
Today’s world of technology is lightning fast, no doubt about that. Smartphones rotate out every year, console developers can’t go a convention without teasing something bigger just around the corner, and this generation of buyers is only interested in what’s next rather than what they have at this moment. Can any device possibly last an entire decade in the current market that it finds itself in?
Personally, I feel the Switch is built for such a world. With no time to sit in front of a television and play games anymore, portability means everything to me. The amount of time I’ve sunk into my Switch over the past year easily surpassed the amount of time I played my PlayStation 4 since I bought it in 2013. I look at 70 hours of Stardew Valley, 45 hours of Romancing SaGa 2, and 40 hours of Super Mario Odyssey and not only am I finding more time to play video games, I’m finding I’m able to actually dedicate myself to ones I buy.
Nintendo saw that its core audience of 80s babies are now part of a Millennial generation struggling to keep up with adult issues, and it made a console that those gamers can enjoy on the bus, in the privacy of their own rooms, and even on a television with their own kids. If that’s how gaming is going to unfold for me over the next decade of my life, then the Switch has already made a mighty fine case for sticking around.
And besides, with how quick the world evolves and changes, having a personal hobby remain consistent in your life would be nice. I would have no problem with the Switch being a ten-year investment so long as Nintendo finds the proper content to supply me with. After all, I’m the guy who still plays games from the 80s and 90s, so I’m in no rush for the next technological leap.