Nintendo: Switching on eSports

By SnowWhite, Posted 27 Apr 2018

Switching on eSports

eSports has been growing steadily for years, now reaching a point where it is often shown on traditional sports channels alongside the likes of football and golf. As we enter this new age, the most recent batch of consoles continue to play a big part in eSports, though how this works can be a little curious. This is especially the case with the Nintendo Switch. As a dual console/handheld, it is a machine designed for great versatility, but how will this translate into the world of eSports, and how has it performed so far?

The First Splash

Releases from Nintendo can be a little difficult to predict in their popularity. When they are average, they are very average, yet, when they succeed, they succeed in the most fantastically visible of ways. Look at the Wii U, an interesting design, yet one which ultimately floundered; compare this to the runaway hit which was the original Wii, the best-selling console of its generation. At the end of its lifespan, the Wii had sold around 101 million units, compared to the Wii U's 13.56 million, a pretty significant difference. Where does the Switch currently stand? It’s current popularity and trend shows it to be far closer to the former than the latter. In fact, Nintendo credits some of the lessons learned from the Wii U as the reasons for the Switch’s success.

Nintendo, Switch, eSports

With a great library of games, including the much-lauded Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the switch started off at a sprint and has shown no signs of fatigue since. While the games currently on offer are much loved by consumers and critics both, the eSports side of things is still very much a work in progress.

The Currently Covered

That is not to say that the Switch has no significant entries into the eSports arena, as it has made a couple of steps to test the water and its online environment. In terms of console exclusives, we have the ARMS fighting game, and the Splatoon third-person shooter (painter?), both unusual creations which carry with them a considerable amount of the classic Nintendo flair and charm. Though, in the case of Splatoon, Nintendo seems a little hesitant to commit. Where it really excels, at least at this point, is its inclusion of the worldwide phenomenon called Rocket League.

Nintendo, Switch, eSports

Made and published by Psyonix, this game is a combination of the most popular sport in the world, football, with the insane and insanely fun idea of rocket-powered cars. This is one of the games which currently stands at the top of the pack when it comes to public popularity and awareness, even placing as one of the rare games which has reached a level where it is covered by mainstream eSports betting sites like Betway. With 40 million players at the start of 2018, this game continues to grow. While there has been some progress, then, as these early entries hint at the potential of the machine yet to be unlocked, we have the distinct feeling that the machine will really take off in eSports within the next year.

A Smashing Future

Nintendo has a lot of games and properties which command an immense amount of interest and respect. It's only natural, then, that a game series which brings many of these games series together will generate a lot of excitement by that means alone. We speak, of course, about the Smash Bros games. Choose from a wide range of popular characters, from Nintendo's Mario to Sega's Sonic, and have them fight it out in an attempt to be the best, like no one ever was. These games are dreams come true for many fans, and each iteration brings something new and interesting to the table.

Nintendo, Switch, eSports

Only officially announced recently, Super Smash Bros on Switch has fans salivating over potential rosters and mechanics, and this extends to the world of eSports. Smash games, while not originally conceived as hardcore competitive games, have evolved to that level over time. Even now, the 2001/2002 release Super Smash Bros. Melee remains one of the most popular eSports fighting games and stands as one of the most popular of all time, still finding its way into major tournaments like Evo, and giving annual prize pools of over $2.53 million. While we have no guarantee that the new game will survive the test of time like Melee did, we do know that all new Smash games command considerable attention from the eSports community for a long while after release.

This is only the beginning of the Switch, and what it will mean for eSports from the Nintendo console? The convenience of the device, alongside its amazing library games, lands it as one of the best suited for eSports tournaments. Exactly how far will this little device go? We can’t say for sure, be we’d place our money on it being something big.


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General Information

Platform(s): Switch
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): HAL Laboratory
Genres: Fighting
Themes: Fighting
Release Date: 2018-12-07

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