Sony and Microsoft recently revealed the impressive, high-powered specs inside of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, which will allow for instant load times, blisteringly fast frame rates and 8K gaming. But that’s not what gamers are talking about right now.
Instead, they’re busy posting pictures of their gardens, houses and meme-able custom art in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a new hit game for Nintendo Switch. And while Animal Crossing is a unique phenomenon in its own right, this trend indicates that the three-year-old Nintendo Switch might be the console that dominates the conversation in 2020 — even in a year with new PlayStation and Xbox systems set to launch by the holidays.
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Sure, the Switch can’t deliver immersive ray tracing, load games in a flash or run AAA titles in 4K at 60 frames per second. But by offering the right games at the right prices in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, the Nintendo Switch might just be the console that people need in 2020.
Nintendo Switch has the right games for an unpredictable time
The Nintendo Switch’s latest must-have game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, was bound to be a huge hit no matter what, given the series’ popularity. But its March 20 release truly couldn’t have come at a better time, as the game helped players around the globe escape from the stress and isolation of home confinement. Nintendo’s new game gave people a space in which they could build their dream getaway islands, and interact with both virtual and real-life friends via online play.
New Horizons is just the latest example of the accessible gameplay and joyful aesthetic that make Nintendo games so beloved. Given the state of the world, I wouldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to survive a viral pandemic in Resident Evil 3 or fight through literal hell on Earth in Doom Eternal. But when you’re playing games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or Pokémon Sword and Shield, you’re escaping into worlds that can feel much more colorful and hopeful than the one we’re currently in.
And if recent rumors are to be believed, Nintendo could soon provide even more of those pleasant escapes. We may get a massive Super Mario collection later this year to celebrate the series’ 35th anniversary. These games would allow players to get lost in the tropical worlds of Super Mario Sunshine, or the iconic 3D Mushroom Kingdom of Super Mario 64. And while the post-apocalyptic survival action of The Last of Us Part II and the sci-fi space shooting of Halo Infinite will likely be huge hits, there are probably just as many folks who’d rather revel in pure Nintendo nostalgia to take their minds of the chaos of everyday life.
Nintendo Switch has a perfect price
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy, and the idea of plunking down a ton of cash on a new game console is a lot less enticing now than it was a few months ago. The PS5 and Xbox Series X could cost somewhere in the ballpark of $400 to $500, based on rumors and analyst predictions, which is the standard price for a new console. That could be a tough sell, given the current state of things.
Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch line starts at a much more reasonable $199 for the handheld-only Nintendo Switch Lite. The standard Nintendo Switch goes for $299, should you want the option to play on your TV as well. These consoles aren’t cheap by any means, but the PS5 and Xbox Series X will likely be much more expensive.
Much like the iPhone 9 could be the most important phone of the year due to its rumored $400 price tag, the Nintendo Switch could be the best console for price-conscious gamers to buy in 2020. Perhaps that’s why Nintendo’s game system has been flying off shelves lately.
I’m not saying that the PS5 and Xbox Series X won’t be successful consoles. Judging by Tom’s Guide’s traffic alone, fans’ appetite for the PlayStation 5 in particular is stronger than ever. And assuming our global economic situation improves, purchasing a high-end console might seem a lot less frivolous by the holiday season than it does now.
But it’s hard not to feel like the Nintendo Switch — and, by extension, Nintendo’s games — are exactly what we need in this unique moment in time. Immersive 4K game worlds and lightning-fast load speeds will surely be exciting, but maybe all that matters right now is curling up on the couch while catching fish, planting trees and making friends on our own virtual vacations.