The future of the Nintendo Switch as an eSports platform

The future of the Nintendo Switch as an eSports platform
Andrew Paradise

Since the Nintendo Switch launch on March 3rd, not to mention all the smaller reveal events leading up to it, the Switch craze has taken ahold of the gaming world. Launch titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, 1-2-Switch and Just Dance 2017 are keeping plenty of gaming fans busy, but others already have their eyes set on the future. Coming from a company with a solid track record of breaking the mould, the Nintendo Switch has the opportunity to revolutionise the video game industry. In particular, the Nintendo Switch Nindies Showcase revealed that the device could have a strong connection to eSports, a market Newzoo expects to grow by 41 percent in 2017 to $696 million.

There are three key components that make a game into an eSport: competition, tournaments and spectatorship. The Nindies Showcase highlighted competition, focusing on multiplayer and co-op games such as Pocket Rumble, Blaster Master Zero, Yooka-Laylee, and Kingdom: Two Crowns. What stood out was the number of existing games adding multiplayer to reinvigorate their current player base and entice new users to play. Stardew Valley, a fan favourite, plans to add multiplayer for the first time, and the co-op game Overcooked: Special Edition, currently on Playstation 4 and Xbox One, is slated to come to the Nintendo Switch.

During the initial reveal, Nintendo dedicated a whole segment to eSports, highlighting Splatoon 2, an eSports-ready game that fits into the shooter genre with Nintendo’s own twist. From a hardware standpoint, the console and mobile traits allow players to find the best way to customise their gameplay and controllers. eSports competitors are inventive, so we will always see creative ways to use these split Joy-Con controllers in competition.

Historically, flagship franchises like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. lacked online multiplayer systems, stymying their ability to take off as eSports. Nintendo is trying to remedy this with its new online service, offering a free trial period in March before launching the paid service in fall 2017, similar to Xbox Live and Playstation Plus. Infrastructure is an essential aspect of eSports, and enables both tournaments and spectatorship. To build that solid infrastructure layer, Nintendo needs to ensure that its online services run smoothly, properly match players, and have fraud detection and anti-cheating measures in place to create a fun, fair competitive environment.

Nintendo is continuing to push the envelope with competitive mobile gaming, and by adding local multiplayer and online ranked matches to these upcoming indie games it’s helping to usher in a new focus on eSports and mobile gaming. The core value proposition that the Nintendo Switch offers is the ability to bridge the gap between consoles and the 2.1 billion mobile gamers worldwide, establishing itself as a jack-of-all-trades device and a viable eSports platform for both mobile and console gameplay.

This was a guest post from Andrew Paradise, CEO and Co-Founder of Skillz. All opinions expressed are those of the author and not eSports Pro or it’s staff. If you would like to submit a guest post for consideration to eSports Pro please email Mike Stubbs on mstubbs@nbmedia.com .

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