If only launching a console was like clicking your fingers
Of all the mountains scaled by people working in the videogame industry, the toughest one to crack is introducing a new console platform. When you pull the process apart and lay out all of the separate pieces, in fact, it’s a wonder that there are three major players still at it today.
Proposed specs and functionality come first. Clearly this new console has to do something people haven’t seen before. Then comes translating those concepts into a plan for silicon that can be produced affordably at scale. We need to engineer a casing to put it in, of course. And we can’t very well launch a new console with old controllers, so we’ll need to either adapt an existing design or, much more problematically, come up with something altogether new. What about sourcing manufacturing for all this?
On the less tangible side, an entirely new UI has to be designed, built and tested. Then there’s online functionality to consider, including multiplayer support and digital stores. And all this needs localising for multiple regions. That applies to parts of the packaging, too, which also needs designing and manufacturing, not just for the console but for all of the related pieces of hardware we need to be on shelves and with online retailers at launch. And getting those things out there means nailing down complex distribution plans, in as many territories as budgets allow.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. What about marketing? Preorder programmes? And the pricing strategy! Quite an important one, that. On and on we go, all of it involving thousands of people collaborating across the world – and ideally in secret, an increasingly tall order in an age when leaks are such hot currency across all corners of the Internet.
And still we haven’t even talked about the most important aspect: the games. How many do we need at launch? Which thirdparty publishers are on board? Are we certain we have the all-important killer app?
With Switch, then, Nintendo has been a little bit busy lately. On p56 we look at how well its intricate proposition is finally coming together.
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