Nintendo is back on my side

Of the many remarkable things about Nintendo’s Switch, the most remarkable is how long it takes from powering on the console to finding yourself immersed in Zelda’s stunning world: Less than a second.

Sure, waiting for an extra minute to look at self-indulgent startup screens, installing a couple of system updates or game patches isn’t the end of the world. But it adds an extra barrier between user and content, and it kills some of the magic. For the same reason, small independent cinemas have stopped playing ads or trailers before showing the movie, creating a more direct experience: You’re here to see the movie, so here it is. This makes playing for a few minutes feel like less of a commitment and caters directly to casual gamers.

For quite some time Nintendo has seemed disconnected from what customers want, and in fact disconnected from what they need. The Nintendo 3DS XL came without a charger. Their first full iOS game can only be played online, rendering it useless for morning subway journeys or flights without WiFi (I went back to Candy Crush). And then there were Friend Codes, the most infuriating way of adding contacts anyone could possibly dream up.

All this made trusting Nintendo again feel like a leap of faith, but so far it feels like they’re back on track. For how complex it looks at first sight, the console is surprisingly intuitive — switching from stationery to handheld gaming in a heartbeat is fun and seems natural after just a couple of days. It gets the balance right, being impressively tiny for a console and impressively large for a handheld, and interactions with the operating system are swift and painless. Most importantly, it feels like it does all this for me and not for itself.

However, simplifying and stripping down is not always the answer. It took a while, but it seems Apple realized they have got to get back on track with their loyal pro user base who is growing increasingly frustrated about the focus on entry level products: That’s not what they want, and certainly not what they need.

Here’s to hoping!

– Oliver Thein, Senior Designer/Art Director at Sterling Brands

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