When we learned about the Nintendo Switch OLED back in July, I rushed to get my pre-order in as quickly as possible. Considering that even the regular Nintendo Switch hasn’t always been easy to find over the last year, I assumed a refreshed model would sell out in seconds.
While the order books didn’t fill up quite that fast, the Nintendo Switch OLED still looks like it’ll join the PS5 and Xbox Series X this holiday season as an item that everybody wants, but no one can actually buy. However, yesterday — after much deliberation — I hit the cancel button on my pre-order. Then, I hit the confirmation button afterward for good measure.
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As the console’s October 8 launch date approached, I’d already considered canceling several times. I play my current Nintendo Switch almost exclusively in handheld mode, so a larger OLED screen is a big upgrade in my books. But the $349 launch price and the lack of any performance boost made me unsure whether I really needed one.
This week, Nintendo released a lengthy Nintendo Direct live stream. I was sure we'd see a wealth of enticing new Switch games, and that I’d double-down on my pre-order. Instead, the Nintendo Direct had the opposite effect. Almost immediately after the live stream concluded, my finger was already hovering over the cancel button. After a little more thought, I pressed it.
Where are all the games?
I’ve written before about how the Nintendo Switch has suffered from a serious lack of flagship games. I had hoped the latest Nintendo Direct would rectify that situation. It didn’t.
For years now, it feels like Nintendo has been resting on its laurels when it comes to heavy-hitting Switch software. This year has been especially bad. In 2021, Mario Golf: Super Rush and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD are all Switch players had to get excited about — and neither of those games is very good.
This year, PS5 players have been enjoying exclusives like Returnal, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and Deathloop, while Xbox players have Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite to look forward to this winter. In comparison, on Nintendo Switch, there’s little to get hyped about. Another undercooked Mario Party? Meh.
While the most recent Nintendo Direct did show off Splatoon 3 and Bayonetta 3, I can’t say I was particularly impressed by either one. Both look disappointingly similar to their predecessors, and hardly make it worth shelling out an extra $349 just to play them on a slighter better screen. Granted, on the flip side, Kirby and the Forgotten Land has piqued my interest.
If Nintendo had given us more details about Breath of the Wild 2, finally confirmed a follow-up to Super Mario Odyssey or announced Mario Kart 9, then maybe I’d be singing a different tune. Unfortunately, the lack of flagship Switch games is a problem that Nintendo is either unable or unwilling to fix.
Not the best place to play
My decision to cancel my Switch OLED pre-order wasn’t just because of the disappointing software lineup. The unfortunate truth is that of the three major console platforms, the Nintendo Switch is easily the worst place to play.
While Microsoft continues to build its Game Pass service, and Sony has the very underrated PlayStation Plus Collection, what does Nintendo offer? A few classic N64 and Sega Genesis titles, which you can effectively rent rather than buy.
I’m not a graphics snob, and I love classic games. In fact, Banjo-Kazooie on the N64 was the first video game I ever played and I’ll buy any re-release on any system. But Nintendo isn’t even giving me the option to purchase it. Instead, Banjo-Kazooie will be available as part of the Nintendo Switch Online service.
This lackluster service already lags behind Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus in terms of both connection quality and overall features. On top of that, Nintendo had the nerve to announce that access to its library of N64/Genesis games will require an extra membership fee. That’s an awful value proposition.
The Nintendo Switch has always been the least feature-rich console on the market. With each passing year, that gap seems to be growing rather than shrinking. I suppose I should at least be grateful that Nintendo recently enabled Bluetooth audio — but why did it take four years for that to happen?
The Nintendo Switch is such a nifty little machine for gaming, but almost everything outside of actually playing games needs some attention. I simply can't justify buying another Switch when Nintendo seems unwilling to give me an incentive.
I’m happy with what I’ve got
There were still plenty of great titles at the Nintendo Direct. For starters, I’m thrilled about Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic coming to the platform. I can’t wait to buy this game a fourth time. (Maybe I’ll actually finish it on Switch?)
There's still some value in the Nintendo Switch overall. It’s an excellent device that has become a travel essential for me. However, the Switch has never been able to elevate itself above being a supplemental console. I’ll always choose to play on PS5 or Xbox Series X first, then Switch.
That’s why I decided it was time to cancel my Switch OLED pre-order. It just doesn't make sense for me to make such a big outlay on something that would spend more time in its carrying case than out of it. I’m happy to keep playing on my standard Nintendo Switch for now.
If Nintendo can come out swinging next year with multiple heavy-hitting titles, maybe I’ll reconsider. But if the company really wants me to spend more money on another device, then how about a proper Nintendo Switch Pro?