Pre-orders, the video game industry’s nasty push to coax you into exchanging money for products before they’re released, are awful offerings. Busted launches, abusive DRM, and general industry shenanigans have made it a foolish endeavor to give publishers money before hardware or software is thoroughly analyzed by journalists, influencers, or hardcore fan communities.
Yet, I pre-ordered a Nintendo Switch without hesitation. I recognize my hypocrisy and embrace its warmth.
Despite my pre-order hatred, ensuring myself a day-one Switch became a priority upon the realization that the console-portable hybrid just may be the most exciting system to come along since the late, great Sega Dreamcast. Nintendo has the audacity to challenge the concept of a video game console by once again taking innovative hardware risks. The PlayStation 4 is a box that sits under your TV with a standardized controller. The Xbox One is a box that sits under your TV with a standardized controller. The Nintendo Switch is not those things. It dares to be different.
As a 40-something New Yorker who has scarce free time and a one-hour work commute, the Switch’s ability to leap between traditional and portable home video game console is highly enticing and the culmination of Nintendo’s innovative Wii and Wii U visions. I can stealth my way through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s open-world environments in the living room, pop the Switch from its dock, and continue playing on my bus ride to the office.
Or, return home from the local chicken shack, pop the Switch into the dock, connect the system to a Wi-Fi signal, and battle seven other jabronies in Super Bomberman R. Even Switch 1-2’s HD Rumble features looks pretty cool, which is something I never thought I’d say about any form of rumble tech. But to engage in such lush day-one fun, I had to bite the pre-order bullet.
I haven’t pre-ordered anything video game-related since Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Truthfully, I only pre-ordered that because early 2000s game stores typically carried low stock. There was a legitimate chance I’d be delayed in experiencing the biggest swerve in video game history due to fanboys rushing Gamestop or Software, Etc. as the gates went up. I didn’t want to miss out on Solid Snake’s adventures then, and I certainly don’t want to miss out on Link’s Metal Gear-like adventures now.
Besides, Nintendo also has a long, rich history of hardware shortages. Just recently, many Nintendo diehards and casuals left their favorite video game retailers empty-handed after discovering that the retro-themed NES Classic Editionsold through its low supply. Remember the Amiibo shenanigans? They’re typical examples of Nintendo’s retail conservatism, Nintendo’s hype machine at work, and Nintendo’s ability to simply be frustratingly Nintendo. As a result, pre-ordering a Switch became a no-brainer action.
Sure, no one has a clue how Nintendo will handle player accounts, online features, or the Virtual Console, which are mysteries that should have dulled my Switch excitement and convinced me to cancel my pre-order. But Nintendo is all aces in regards to crafting incredibly fun games that you simply can’t find anywhere else.
For that I thank Nintendo. For that Nintendo’s earned my money.