The LAST Thing Nintendo Needs is a “Less Powerful” Switch.  (Switch Mini Rumors) 

Rumors concerning the impending reveal of a new “Switch Mini” are causing quite the stir online and within Nintendo’s own board meeting. Investors directly ask executives about the possibility of the Switch Mini at a recent meeting. Nintendo only critically said that they wouldn’t prematurely announce any new hardware so they could preserve a sense of “surprise” for their audience. 

Nintendo is no stranger to releasing various hardware iterations of their gaming consoles. The last being their “New” Nintendo 3DS which boosted CPU speeds and a few hardware tweaks. The company also released the Nintendo 2DS Which was essentially a wedge-shaped 3DS without the 3D capabilities. Nintendo released the 2DS to achieve a lower price point for their customers who might be willing to give up 3D elements to their games in exchange for a more affordable product. 

Some online are suggesting that the Switch Mini may have various technological compromises to achieve a lower price point for consumers. These compromises may be the lack of Joy-cons, a smaller and lower resolution screen, a smaller battery, and perhaps a lower clocked CPU and GPU. Of all of these potential cuts, the clock speed of the CPU and GPU and the battery capacity should be unchanged. 

 

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Photo Credit: Honson

Quite frankly, the LAST thing that Nintendo needs is a less powerful Switch unit. I love my Nintendo Switch despite the raw power difference between the Switch and other consoles, the Switch is still my go-to device for gaming. This is primarily due to the unique selection of games such as Zelda, Xenoblade, and Splatoon, for example. I do however have to admit that the current version of the Nintendo Switch is underpowered. Yes, I said it! Because it’s true! It’s 2019, and Nintendo has YET to provide a home console that can reliably deliver at LEAST a1080p resolution or 60 fps across its games. Some do hit that mark but surely not enough do. Current Generation consoles like PS4 Pro and Xbox 1X are already flirting with 4K resolutions, so needless to Say Nintendo is falling behind on that front. 

While Switch Ports like Doom and Wolfenstein are impressive “given the hardware,” I think, fans would just like comparable ports of AAA games without the stipulations. I get it, the Switch is a Hybrid console, so sacrifices had to be made, but also better design choices could have been made. This is where the conversation gets back to the switch mini. If the Switch Mini is less powerful than the current generation Switch, how on Earth will performance fare especially with the switches more ambitious games like Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (which at some points struggles to run on the current hardware).

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Photo Credit: Nintendo/ Monolith Soft: Xenoblade 2

I hope that the current Switch model gets a significant price drop and instead of a Switch Mini, Nintendo reveals a Switch-Pro with advanced specs, improved performance, and visuals for existing games. 

PlayStation vs. Xbox: A Tale of Two Polarizing Directions

Contributor: Karl Guyton II

 

 
In February of this year, head of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) Shawn Layden gave an interview with CNET discussing the future of PlayStation (https://www.cnet.com/news/sonys-shawn-layden-wants-fewer-bigger-playstation-games/) Layden discussed the next generation console (likely to be called PlayStation 5), game streaming, E3, as well other topics. One such topic that was particularly interesting was that he wants Playstation studios to focus on fewer, more significant games. Layden stated that “As the exclusive developer for PlayStation, we always have to set the high-water mark, to push the technology further than anyone else.” This is a statement that is overwhelmingly supported by the software sales of Playstation’s first-party exclusives this generation. Horizon: Zero Dawn, God of War, Spider-Man, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and Days Gone were all commercial blockbusters, and were except for Days Gone all critically acclaimed as well. PlayStation also has a few games that are upcoming that are more than likely going to join those aforementioned games as critical and commercial successes as Death Stranding is set to debut this fall, while Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us: Part II are widely expected to be released in 2020. In addition to their big hitting AAA titles, PlayStation has some highly anticipated AA first games set to release this Fall in Dreams and Concrete Genie. Recently, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan doubled down on Layden’s comments, saying that story driven titles are not a genre that Sony will ever step away from and that the company has “never had greater success” than it currently has with story-driven experiences. It is this attention to detail and focus on quality that has to lead to PS4 running away with this generation’s “console war.”

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Photo Credit: Death Stranding. Kojima Productions

On the flip side, Microsoft started off this generation with the Xbox One on the wrong foot. The initial marketing strategy was disastrous, as they touted the new console as the perfect media hub, while oddly ignoring games. This poor start set Xbox back so far that they couldn’t catch up. For the last 2 years specifically, Microsoft has been acquiring new game studios, in anticipation of the upcoming 9th generation. The next generation allows Microsoft and Xbox to start over fresh, and with the current game studio acquisitions, Microsoft now has 14 in house studios to Sony’s 13. One of the critical weaknesses of Xbox’s this generation was the overall lack of quality of first-party exclusives. Xbox die-hards had Halo, Gears, and Forza but that was pretty much it. This is why Microsoft spent so much time and energy acquiring new studios. But now the question is, can Microsoft’s newly acquired studios match the quality output of Sony’s first party studios? At E3, Microsoft unveiled the new game studios that they had acquired and showed off a few of the games currently in development.
Admittedly, what we did see wasn’t much, but I imagine that many of the games are being developed for the next Xbox and it would be wiser for Xbox to reveal those games next year at E3 alongside the actual console. That much doesn’t trouble me at all. What does bother me, however, was Matt Booty’s interview with IGN. https://www.ign.com/articles/2019/06/11/microsoft-aiming-for-a-first-party-xbox-game-about-every-three-months-e3-2019 Booty claimed that they want to pump out a quality game approximately every 3 months. Booty said, “I think about like how long you spend with a game and just sort of the cadence of discovery there,” Booty explained. “So if you can do a game every three months, and if a game takes somewhere between two years and four years, I mean, just think about things that have come out recently, you know, things like Red Dead and God of War need to be getting into five, six years. Right? But let’s just say for the sorts of studios, like a Ninja theory or a double fine that two, three years start to be the cadence, right?
“So, then if you’ve got a game a quarter and you’re taking two to three years.” Booty continued. “You can kind of back into the math and say, well wow, you probably need somewhere between 10 and 12 studios. But… making games is not yet a perfect science, right? There’s no creative endeavor that is. So there’s going to be things that take longer. There’s going to be some things that we start and say, hey, great idea, but it just isn’t, you know, the Jello doesn’t want to set. Right. Um, and so I think we need some, some buffer in there, right? So the first, that’s kind of my basic answers. We’d love to be feeding a high-quality game into game pass about every three months.” The issue here is and quality. Quality games take time to make, and 3 months is like the blink of an eye considering that average game development cycles are closer to 3 years. Granted, Phil Spencer said at E3 that Xbox currently has over 1000 games in development, we can still readily assume that the vast majority of these are not AAA exclusives. Booty noted that the driving mechanism for this timeline was Xbox Game Pass, Xbox’s subscription gaming service. As of now, this is simply speculation and my own opinion, but it seems that Xbox is valuing quantity over quality, while PlayStation is focused on delivering quality games while cutting back to the amount. PlayStation and Xbox are seemingly taking two polarizing directions going into the next generation, and it will be interesting to see which strategy pays off.

Questions About iOS We have After WWDC.

During this year’s WWDC, Apple debuted its future for its various operations systems. Highlights included iOS 13, MacOS Catalina, and the debut of Apple’s newest operating system iPad OS. While Apple revealed a great deal about these upcoming software releases, there are still many questions we have about the operating systems themselves, including how they will affect existing devices, and to what degree the new features will be implemented.

iOS 13

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Photo Credit: Apple

My biggest question about iOS 13 is regarding the new Dark Mode. I wonder if Dark Mode will present “true blacks” on OLED devices such as the various iPhone X models except for the XR which uses a liquid retina display which is an LCD. When I say a “true black,” I mean pixels being entirely turned off while using dark mode. If this is the case, I iPhone X(s, Max) could see gains in battery life because fewer pixels have to be illuminated and thus are saving energy. Older iPhones and the XR will of course not be able to achieve true blacks dude to the nature of LCDs, but I’m sure the Dark Mode will still be much easier on the eyes, there however just won’t be any battery savings. 

TvOS 

As a gamer, you can imagine that I was excited at the announcement that the Apple TV would natively support PlayStation and Xbox One controllers. This is fantastic news as I have been highly reluctant to purchase one of the expensive MiFi controllers that were compatible with iOS and TvOS. As I already own multiple PS4 controllers, I now feel empowered to try out more games on my Apple TV. I am, however, more curious about the support Playstation and Xbox controllers will have with iOS, Mac OS, and iPad OS. The Nintendo Switch is one of my favorite gaming consoles due to its very portable nature, other devices I always have with me are my iPad, my MacBook, and my iPhone. I have never liked only having a touch screen for gaming inputs, and I know I could have purchased one of those MiFi controllers, but as I said, I already have enough controllers at home laying around. A few years back, I bought Final Fantasy 7 and Transistor on iOS, but I just didn’t want to play with touch controls or buy a new controller to play them. But now I have the option to play both of these games on my Switch. I historically haven’t had a problem with double dipping on games, when they release on a platform that is more in line with my play-style, and I’ve been on the fence about purchasing these games on Switch. But now my decision will depend on if I can natively use my PS4 controller with my iPad because in that case, I will stick with those games on iOS. 

iPadOS 

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Photo Credit: Apple 

 

Year after year, changes to the software experience on iPad had stolen the show at WWDC, and this year was no different. This time, Apple defined a new pedigree for the software experience on iPad by giving the device its own operating system. iPadOS is the new name of the software that will now power iPad Devices. At this time, iPadOS isn’t a significant departure from the iOS experience on iPad but is different in a few key ways. A notable update is that multitasking is now improved on iPadOS. Multitasking has been improved by allowing better window management and allowing multiple windows of the same app to be displayed. Two of the most desired features that I wanted for iPad (https://iphonetennismatch.com/) are finally making their way to the tablet. The First feature is one that Apple omitted from their presentation, but none the less is present in iPadOS and will for many vastly improve their iPad workflows. That feature is mouse support on the iPad. This feature won’t be immediately apparent as Apple wants you to primarily utilize the iPad’s touch screen to navigate menus and apps. The support for mice and trackpads will be found in the accessibility section of the settings app and can be toggled on or off. It has been confirmed that Apple’s own Magic Mouse and Trackpad will be compatible with iPads on iPadOS. The cursor will be the same found In the assistive touch function found in iOS. Whether or not Apple will add a proper cursor or be more forthcoming on the addition of this feature will remain to be seen.  The Second feature that I anticipated coming to the iPad was the adoption of native support for using an iPad a second display for the Mac. Apple did publicize this feature during its keynote, and they called this feature “Side Car.” It has been confirmed that this feature can be used via USB-C and a wireless Bluetooth connection. There are however questions on whether older iPads that use a lighting cable will be able to utilize the Side Car feature, or if older Macs will be able to interface with newer iPads using this feature as well. According to some sources, All iPads that can support iPadOS will be able to use the Sidecar feature with Macs that can install MacOS Catalina. I do hope that this is the case as it wouldn’t force current Mac and iPad users to upgrade their devices to take advantage of this feature.