The absence of a pack-in game for the Switch is down to hitting the new console's $300 price-point, Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime has said, despite acknowledging clear parallels between 1-2-Switch and Wii Sports.
Nintendo's two previous home consoles came with free software - Wii Sports for Wii, and Nintendo Land for Wii U - as a way of demonstrating the unique features of the hardware. In a sense, the Switch is a more conventional concept than either of its predecessors, but it nevertheless has motion-control functions that open up potential for distinct gameplay experiences.
The launch title 1-2-Switch is a clear attempt to demonstrate those possibilities, but it is being sold separately for $50/£40. Gamespot raised the point with Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, who conceded that the game does play a similar role to Wii Sports. "I would say, though, that 1-2-Switch has many more experiences," he added. "It's a wider pallet of experiences, potentially more akin to Wii Play than to Wii Sports. And, again, from that standpoint, Wii Play was a standalone piece of software both with a controller at the time and without, so that's probably the better analogy."
Though it's impossible to speak for the entire body of the games press, it isn't hard to find views that run counter to Fils-Aime's belief that 1-2-Switch is more substantial than Wii Sports. Indeed, the main point of criticism in most hands-on accounts is an apparent lack of depth and replayability, including our own report. "Not a single mini-game in this collection offered much depth - it felt more like a string of quick micro games than anything substantial," we wrote last week. "These games [1-2-Switch and Arms] are clearly built for mainstream audiences, and it's hard to see them appealing at these prices."
From Nintendo's perspective, though, selling the Switch without a pack-in game may have been a matter of necessity. Elsewhere in Fils-Aime's interview with Gamespot, he described reaching a $299 price-point as essential.
"The first decision that we make is, where do we want to be in terms of the hardware price point that's going to be approachable and hit the marketplace we want? And from a US price point, we wanted to be at $299. Certainly, lower is always better, but at a $349 or $399 price point, we just didn't feel that was the right place to be. So we start there.
"And then it's all about, what's going to be included? Obviously the inclusion of the two Joy-Con, critically important; all the right cables, the dock, critically important. We also have to do this from a financial perspective as well. Once we got to that bundle, it really needed to be at $299 without a piece of software."
Given the vital role of Wii Sports in selling the hardware, this can be seen as a calculated risk on Nintendo's part. However, Fils-Aime seemed confident that it has a "range of software" being released throughout 2017 that supports giving the consumer power to choose. "We wanted to enable the consumer to buy the software they want, to look to get to the most approachable price point we could get to. That led us to a $299 price point, and let the consumer decide what games they want to buy."