View Full Version : Will Microsoft and Sony Copy the Switch?

04-23-2017, 04:17 PM
I stumbled onto an article on Metro.uk asking if Microsoft and Sony will copy the Switch, or if fans would want them to.

I wrote up a large response, then declined to send it in as I felt it was a waste of a speaking point. So I'm posting it here, and I'm going to try to splice together a halfway decent video on the subject to throw out into YouTube. In both cases hoping to generate some discussion that I can engage with, rather than just have everything directed at a news site.

Absolutely. It won’t even be as hard of a decision as copying the Wii’s motion control was, and they both jumped on that train.

If you look back into gaming’s history, the Switch is NOT a new concept. Back in 1995, SEGA released the Nomad. A portable system that played Genesis games. It only released in the US, and I never owned one, but I did know someone who did. It played games beautifully, worked exactly like the console, and was overall a blast. The problem with the system was, it was sitting at a $180 price tag, which was an additional cost over the $189 Genesis, and it ate batteries even faster than the infamous Game Gear.

And, of course, there was the original PlayStation Portable that released in 2004. Not only was it named "PlayStation Portable" (again, notice the marketing of a portable version of a console), but it's biggest success was in the fairly extensive library of games that originally released on the PlayStation that you could now play on the go. Though, with the PlayStation 2 available four years before it's release, it was still trending well behind the times, and PS2 games that were ported had to be substantially reimagined. Nonetheless, the PSP was well received, and was the closest that Sony ever got to breaking Nintendo's stranglehold on the portable market.

In between these two periods, we hit a time where such a concept was not feasible. Handheld hardware could not keep up with the switch from 2D sprites to 3D polygons, and the idea was shelved. Handhelds very heavily relied on the simpler traditional style due to hardware constraints (giving us the masterful GameBoy Advance), while console games spun further and further into higher polygon counts and more complex physics rendering.

Fast forward to 2013, and the release of the PlayStation Vita. Again, a system advertised as being able to play console-quality games in a portable setting, and featuring Cross Play and Cross Buy. Of course, it was $249 for the base unit (again, in addition to the $499 PS3). And, while Cross Play was nice, it wasn’t available for every title. What’s more, the hardware architecture made the system notoriously difficult to develop games for (the indie title Axiom Verge, developed with direct help from Sony in making it work on the Vita from the beginning, still took a year longer to release on that system than any other). So, the system collapsed and was ignored and abandoned by Sony.

Now look at the Switch. By consolidating the “console as handheld” hardware concept with the ability to play in a dedicated living room setup as you could any traditional console, Nintendo has removed the cost barrier of the concept to consumers. What’s more, they’ve removed the development issues that plagued the Vita, as there is only one system to develop for. Battery life has improved substantially since the day of AA batteries powering everything. And, finally, we’re reaching the point where handheld hardware CAN emulate the performance of a dedicated console once again.

Now look at the future. If Scorpio can deliver on 4K, 60 FPS gaming, what will the next console be? 8K resolution? It might interest you to know that experts say that someone with 20/20 vision is physically incapable of seeing even the difference between 1080p and 4K unless they’re on a 55” or larger screen, and sitting six feet or closer to the TV (my 50”, 1080p TV is situated 7 feet from my couch, and my vision is worse than 20/20, so there is literally no point to my even upgrading). 8K gets even worse, requiring a larger screen and/or closer viewing distances to see the difference. Which is itself inherently contradictory, because the closer you sit, the more of your vision the TV takes up, and therefore the smaller a TV that you need. Eyes do not have infinite resolution. If they did, we could see atoms.

So, what’s next, once they can’t push the prettiest graphics any more? The answer: Portability. And, given how successful the Switch has been, I do not expect it will take long at all to push this concept. This is a move the industry has known is coming. It’s one they’ve been looking for, and trying out since the “Great Console Wars” of Nintendo versus SEGA. The industry will not be slow to adapt to it now that it’s here. I’m guessing that the very next console iteration will feature a portable version. But, if not, the one after that absolutely will. The PS5 may not be portable, but the PS5 Pro equivalent will actually be the PS5 Portable.

Bank on it.

Those are my thoughts on the subject, and I thought I'd share them with you guys, see if you agree or disagree, and what other expectations you might have of the hybrid market going forward.

04-23-2017, 04:54 PM
NO, because the primary target groups are different and like different things. Sony and Microsoft side fandom are more into cough play while Nintendo side fandom, especially in Japan, are more into the mobile play style due to their culture. Also, Nintendo is the only one out of the big three to consistently have successful handheld systems, hence why it probably got incorporated into the Switch in some manner.

Wolf Kanno
04-24-2017, 03:16 AM
I feel like Sony has already been trying to do this with the Vita as you mentioned Skyblade and I thought (though I could be totally mistaken) that Microsoft was teasing this idea with that Glass thing they were super excited about years ago that never seemed to go anywhere. So I agree the Switch isn't new as a concept, but I feel like Nintendo went the extra step to actually make the tech one thing, instead of trying to introduce a new piece of hardware on an established software/hardware platform that will always have compatibility issues because LOL, technology! Hell, technically Nintendo just built the switch based on the one good idea the WiiU had that was still too small fry on that console.

I can see both companies jumping at the chance since they've been trying to make their brand an all-in-one media outlet since the previous console cycle. Whether this is going to actually be a thing is another story. I feel like it can go either way, but considering Nintendo is kind of a niche outlet for developers, not to mention it will be interesting to see the ramifications of the Switch versus a dedicated handheld system and how this will work out for the future of both industries will be interesting to watch unfold.

If Sony and Microsoft do follow suit, I feel they either need to shelve the idea for next console cycle, especially to learn from the mistakes Nintendo will have to deal with as the system gets more usage. Besides, it's bad enough that both companies are giving us 1.5 editions of their current consoles despite neither being terribly old, so I doubt trying to release a third model with a handheld peripheral will go over well either. On the other end, it would be a tough sale to simply build a peripheral model like a successor to the Vita and simply hope it will take off since most consumers will assume the system is a standalone item as opposed to a simple peripheral to utilize the on-the-go function. I feel the biggest question one should be asking is whether next-gen gaming on the go is something the market truly wants, or is the handheld market it's own unique market with different needs and wants that differ from the console market.

Frankly, I'm the type to bet on the markets being radically different. I also believe Nintendo is aware of this as well and I'm sure a successor to the 3DS is on the horizon. Course I've been wrong before.

Colonel Angus
04-25-2017, 03:34 AM
Microsoft will copy Nintendo WiiU by not selling any Scorpios.

04-25-2017, 08:58 PM
I would hope both have learned from the Vita. I would be insulted if Sony tried again after the way they treated their first two handhelds. And Microsoft knows they don't have the market share to make it profitable. They're already canceling some of their best IPs. Launching a niche console would be a lot more laborious. So while I'd agree they would want to try, I don't imagine either foolish enough to go through with it

04-26-2017, 01:52 PM
Microsoft's main audience is "dude bros " so I don't see them changing anytime soon. And Sony is doing fine with the PS4, so I don't see them changing either unless the Switch completely takes over.

The only way I can see Microsoft copying the Switch is if they wanted to try and grab a more Eastern audience in Japan since X-Box sales in Japan are always very low.

Del Murder
04-26-2017, 11:56 PM
I would love a PS5 Portable. I would play it all the time, where I have not touched my PS4 in months except to play DVDs for my kids. It's not for lack of games, but that TV is either used by my family to watch something or I'm somewhere else in the house watching the kids. I've gotten tons more mileage out of my 3DS and Vita lately.

I thought the PSP and Vita were great systems and just didn't find the support that Nintendo gets. I'm not sure Sony would try portable again after getting burned on the Vita. It's more likely they will wait and see how well Switch does in the longer term before announcing their own version. I do think we are at or nearing the end of the stand alone home console 'generations'. The technology is just way to advanced and changing too rapidly to put out these high priced gaming-only boxes that are meant to last 4-5 years. Also, graphical fidelity is nearing a peak meaning raw power improvement is not the most major way to define a 'generation' anymore. However, I think Sony and Microsoft may be going more towards the PC market with an all-around powerful product with upgradable components rather than a slick home/portable hybrid like Switch.

04-27-2017, 03:59 AM
I doubt it. After the complete and utter failure of the Vita followed immediately by the roaring success of the PS4, I doubt Sony will be eyeing the handheld market again for a very long time, if ever. Meanwhile Microsoft is so hellbent on weening Xbox users to Windows 10, even going as far as making Xbox One and Windows 10 "exclusives" one in the same, that Windows 10 based laptops/tablets basically are the Xbox handheld.

In short, I would be utterly shocked if either Sony or Microsoft announced a handheld, much less a Switch style handheld.

04-27-2017, 06:06 AM
Sony has pretty much carved themselves out as the main console to buy. They're focused on a core audience, not gimmicks.

The only one who might try to copy them is Microsoft...but what games would you even play on a portable Microsoft system? Halo? No thanks.