Having sold more than 122 million consoles as of February 2023, the Nintendo Switch is officially the third best-selling video game console of all time.
Riding on the success of Nintendo-exclusive titles and its unique hardware that allows both handheld and docked modes to play on a TV, the Switch has captured the attention of the market for years to come. As popular as the Nintendo Switch is, this doesn’t mean it’s for everyone or that you should run out and buy it today.
Instead, let’s take a look at the 8 reasons you might want to avoid purchasing a Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo Switch Background
Released to the world on March 3, 2017, the Nintendo Switch is considered a hybrid video game console that works in combination with a dock to be used on televisions or as a portable handheld. The Switch arrived in two separate pieces with a tablet being the main hardware with an original size 6.2-inch display size.
On the sides of the tablet are Joy-Cons, or the Nintendo Switch controllers that have created a massive third-party experience full of different variations for use with all kinds of playable games on the console.
Part of the eighth-generation of gaming, the Switch originally competed against the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, only to now compete against ninth gen consoles with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
The Switch was an immediate success, shipping more than three million units in the first month and 14 million consoles by the end of its first year.
- Neon red and neon blue Joy-Con controllers
- 7-inch OLED screen
- 64GB internal storage
- Wired LAN port
- Enhanced audio
- Wide adjustable stand
8 Reasons to Avoid the Nintendo Switch
As popular as the Nintendo Switch has become with gamers all over the world, there are still numerous reasons why you should wait until the next Nintendo console release or pick up one of its competitors.
Games Are Expensive
While video game prices are no doubt rising all across the board, Nintendo is notorious for not providing the same level of discounts as Sony or Microsoft. It’s not uncommon to see pretty drastic price cuts from the likes of Sony or Microsoft online stores or even from third-party sellers like Amazon, Target, or Walmart. On the other hand, Nintendo rarely discounts games below a 50% level, and that is only occurring a few times a year.
For the most part, you can expect first-party Nintendo titles to consistently hover at $60 regularly with a $70 price tag not out of reach for brand-new games. The Nintendo eShop may offer some extra discounts for digital downloads but there is no debate as to whether Nintendo is the king of high prices.
If you’re price-conscious about how many games you can download, it’s a pretty big reason you might want to avoid a Nintendo Switch.
Poor Online Functionality
Between Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus, Sony and Microsoft have developed robust opportunities for its console owners to play dozens if not hundreds of games online. Along with this online functionality, both Sony and Microsoft offer additional discounts on new games, exclusive content, cloud storage, and in some cases, cloud streaming.
Unfortunately, Nintendo Switch Online offers almost none of this outside of playing online with friends or an (albeit very fun) back catalog of classic games from classic Nintendo consoles like the NES or SNES. There is something of a saved data cloud but it’s not as in-depth as the offerings by Sony or Microsoft who are far, far ahead with their online functionality.
Nintendo has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to compete in this space, especially when it comes to online chat. As Nintendo still asks you to install a smartphone app to chat online with friends while playing, it’s a subpar experience compared to even the original Xbox Live consoles where online gameplay was done over a headset.
As Microsoft has gone all in with Xbox and Game Pass, it’s become a staple reason to purchase the Xbox console, and Nintendo has the catalog of games to offer something similar and demand a premium price point.
When the Nintendo Switch first launched in 2017, its hardware was already outdated compared to other consoles of the same generation. While underpowered consoles have never been an issue for Nintendo (see the Wii), Switch owners have really begun to demand more powerful AAA titles like Call of Duty. The NVIDIA Tegra X1 chip inside the Switch simply was unable to keep up with the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One, never mind the PS5 or Xbox Series X.
As the performance gap between the Nintendo Switch and other consoles continues to widen, so too will the demand for something like a Switch Pro. Nintendo has long held the position that the current Switch model is great and has only released one major console improvement with the Nintendo Switch OLED. Introducing a 7-inch OLED screen, this Nintendo Switch is no doubt more fun to look at while playing in handheld mode, but it still has the same overall performance limitations hardware-wise.
It’s hard to recommend picking up the currently underpowered Nintendo Switch until more powerful hardware appears. Whether that will happen in the coming months is a hard question to answer. However, if you buy today only to see the much-desired Switch Pro come out in six months, you’re going to be pretty upset.
One of the more recent reasons to consider avoiding the Nintendo Switch is the meteoric rise of the Valve Steam Deck. Something of a handheld computer whereas the Switch is a handheld video game console, the Steam Deck has access to far more games, while offering even more features.
The sheer depth of the game lineup on the Steam store and its frequent discounts makes it hard for Nintendo to compete on the cost of ownership. More importantly, the Steam Deck can properly bill itself as a premium console experience due to the depth of its AAA lineup.
Games on the Steam store can start as low as under a dollar and, while the same can be said for Nintendo’s eShop, the quality of titles will almost always land in the Steam Deck’s favor. Another win for the Steam Deck is its ability to come out of the box immediately and play hundreds of AAA and AA titles that the Nintendo Switch cannot play, like Call of Duty.
Lack of Backward Compatibility
With the exception of Nintendo Switch Online and the hundred or so games Nintendo has made available from its classic console lineup, backward compatibility is non-existent. Alternatively, Microsoft has gone all-in with its last two console generations, providing deep backward compatibility up to and including the original Xbox. While not every game is playable, there are hundreds of titles that Microsoft has confirmed as playable on their newest console, and that includes both digital downloads and older discs.
Sony might have originally resisted backward compatibility before, but with the release of the PlayStation 5, it works with just about every PlayStation 4 physical game disc. PlayStation Plus and its highest tiers of Extra and Premium have also enabled hundreds of games from across the PlayStation console life cycle.
As good as Nintendo’s retro collection might be, backward compatibility is a numbers game and Nintendo has fallen far behind.
The cost of owning a Nintendo Switch console might be pretty fixed at $199, $299, and $349 for the Switch Lite, Original Switch, and Switch OLED, respectively, but other costs can creep up. For example, replacement Joy-Cons of the official variety can cost $69.99 and a replacement dock is around $59.99.
None of this is to say that replacement controllers for PlayStation or Xbox consoles are cheaper, but they go on sale frequently and can often be found at steep discounts. When you factor in the premium Nintendo runs on its branded accessories plus the overall cost of first-party games, the overall cost of ownership for a Nintendo Switch quickly adds up.
Lack of Achievements
There is a good chance you remember the exact moment you achieved a Platinum reward for a game on the PlayStation 4 or 5 or achieved a similar accomplishment with your Xbox. For Nintendo Switch owners, there are no such success stories as the company has stayed out of the achievement game for as long as you can remember.
Buying a PS5 because you want a platinum Horizon Forbidden West isn’t the best reason to buy any console, but these are the side benefits of owning non-Nintendo consoles. They make for fun conversation with other gamer friends or through your chat rooms in Discord when you discuss your favorite games.
Even Steam offers a laundry list of accomplishments that says you’ve achieved some goal within a game. Regardless of whether you are someone who tries to finish every single aspect of a game, having the option to achieve something is better than nothing at all.
No Third-Party Apps
For the most part, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S can double as a home entertainment experience. They are full of third-party apps like Netflix, HBO, Spotify, and dozens of other streaming service favorites. Unfortunately for Nintendo, they do not offer any services like this as the Switch is solely a dedicated gaming console.
For many people, gaming might be enough, but for others, home video game consoles have long helped avoid the need for separate entertainment hardware. As the Nintendo Switch doesn’t even have some of the basic applications for non-gaming entertainment, it’s at a real disadvantage compared to its competitors.
Alternatives to the Nintendo Switch
The PlayStation 5 is not yet three years old and has already sold more than 30 million units since its November 2020 release.
A part of the ninth console generation, the PS5 offers lifelike graphics and a superb lineup of exclusive consoles like God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, The Last of Us, and Ghost of Tsushima.
Vastly more powerful than the Nintendo Switch, the PlayStation 5 is more aptly compared to a mid-range desktop gaming computer than Nintendo’s current console.
Xbox Series X/S
- The fastest, most powerful Xbox ever
- Explore rich new worlds with 12 teraflops of raw graphic processing power, DirectX ray tracing, a custom SSD, and 4K gaming
- Make the most of every gaming minute with Quick Resume, lightning-fast load times, and gameplay of up to 120 FPS
- Powered by Xbox Velocity Architecture
- Enjoy thousands of games from four generations of Xbox, with hundreds of optimized titles that look and play better than ever
- Full-spectrum visuals and immersive audio with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
Microsoft’s entry into the ninth generation of gaming with the Xbox Series X was also released in November 2020 and has already sold more than 18.5 million units.
Given the popularity of Xbox Game Pass, it’s no surprise that Microsoft is riding high as its cloud gaming service is widely regarded as the north star for future cloud gaming offerings. Microsoft doesn’t have the same depth of exclusives as Sony, but games like Halo and Gears of War have helped Microsoft continue to thrive, and the Xbox Series X is an equally powerful console to the PS5.
Valve’s attempt to break into the PC gaming hardware space has been met with open arms to the tune of more than one million units sold.
Even as it’s slightly underpowered compared to more premium desktop gaming PCs and only offers a 720p display, the handheld experience of the Steam Deck is unparalleled as far as PC gaming goes. The popularity of the console continues to climb and as Valve has committed to not releasing a follow-up for years, the sky’s the limit for how many units Valve can sell.
The Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s best and potentially soon-to-be most popular console of all time. It offers an excellent array of first-party games like Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe but it does so with premium price points all around.
Where the Switch really falls down is its underpowered hardware as console owners demand more third-party AAA games. When factoring in these reasons and all of the reasons above, there is a good chance that you might want to hold off on a Switch purchase at this moment and wait a little longer to see if the magical Switch Pro finally becomes a reality.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Niphon Subsri/Shutterstock.com.