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Why does Nintendo Switch still feel like an ‘Early Access’ Console?

by Kyle Hanson

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I love my Nintendo Switch. In terms of games played, and time spent in game, it’s likely my most used console over the last few months. However, there’s a problem that’s been bothering me the further we get away from the system’s March 3rd launch date.When the Switch first hit the market, many commented on how it felt like an “early access” console, as it lacked a lot of the features you might expect from a modern console release (I brought this up in our review). That made sense at launch, as Nintendo put a heavier focus on getting solid game releases. But now, over six months later, it still feels that way, and that’s a problem.

Let’s start with the basics. Any modern gaming console should have a robust suite of online features for its games. Now, this is an area where Nintendo has made improvements, but they are still lagging far behind their competition. The Nintendo Switch app is a required peripheral if you want to experience voice chat, or effectively team up with other players in the few games that support Nintendo’s cumbersome online multiplayer system.

YouTube, Netflix, and even a function as basic as internet browsing are all missing

Even when features are present, they just feel hacked together, rather than the fully realized systems found on PS4 and Xbox One. Finding friends, joining games, and just seeing what other people are playing works but not all that well, at least when compared to Xbox Live and PSN. “But at least Nintendo’ online solution is free” you might say, if you didn’t know that the company planned to begin charging for the service later this year. We don’t have the details on that yet, but if major improvements aren’t made by then the service will surely feel unworthy of whatever price Nintendo puts on it.

Outside of the online gaming realm the Switch still has an “Early Access” feel in a number of ways. Achievements and Trophies have become standard within the gaming sphere, with every major platform featuring them. Nintendo seems to toss them into individual games at times, but this really needs to be a feature controlled at the core of the system for players to care about it like they do on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.

Even beyond gaming as a whole the Switch seems to be held back for some reason. Recent rumors stated that Netflix was ready and waiting to release their app on the console, yet Nintendo wasn’t letting them do so. Now, that could be false, but either way it doesn’t help that the Switch lacks apps that even the 3DS feature. YouTube, Netflix, and even a function as basic as internet browsing are all missing in action over six months after the Switch arrived on store shelves (despite the fact that the Switch actually has an internet browser already built in).

I’m not saying that these missing features and the “Early Access” feeling will impact sales or anything. The Switch is still flying off store shelves as fast as Nintendo can supply them, and that will likely continue into and through the holiday season. But for the long term prospects of the console, and for general owner satisfaction, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed, and hopefully soon.

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