I have a Nintendo Switch. I love my Nintendo Switch.
it is one of the most extraordinary user experiences I’ve ever had, because of the way it focusses the nature of the device.
The Switch is not a hardware powerhouse like the Sony Playstation or XBox One. It doesn’t want to be.
It focusses on creating a seamless gaming experience so that users can more speedily get into the very thing that they bought the Switch for – gaming. From the time taken to switch on the Switch to resume actually playing the game is measured in a few seconds. On my XBox, the console has barely loaded the home screen, let alone the game.
Not only that, but the XBox and Playstation are plagued by a need to regularly download large updates that can take 30 minutes to an hour. And that is only for the console – often the game itself will also need an update. A Switch update can be done in a few minutes.
Needless to say, this makes all the difference, and personally – I’d rather get gaming seamlessly, than get frustrated waiting for the more powerful experience to download.
Speaking of seamless…
One of the most powerful things about the Switch is the shareability. This is a device that is not locked to a TV, or restricted by its small screen. Just watch this video to see how versatile it is.
This verstaility is already a great selling point, and it’s supported by the great execution of the user experience.
If I am playing a game, and want to hand it to my kids so they can play as themselves, this requires signing out of the console and back in as their profile, which changes the home screen layout, themes and so on. This is good practice for a personalised experience. But it’s cumbersome. It’s all-encompassing.
The Switch reduces the ability to personalise, in favour of being able to quickly switch profiles without completely signing in and out. If I want to hand over the Switch, I close the game, then open it again, at which point it then asks me which profile to use. This is further supported by the simplicity of setting parental controls – it’s that orange button right there on the home screen. On the other consoles, this option is hidden inside menus and settings. By reducing taps/clicks, the Switch reduces frustration.
In practice, this simple hierarchy change enables the Switch to really excel at its nature – the shareability. Reducing the cumbersome nature of switching profiles enhances the seamless speed of handing it over.
Which means better gaming
User profiles are generally seen as all encompassing gateways – essential to using a product. While useful, the prioritisation of profile over experience can hamper the enjoyment because, often, a profile isn’t needed. It’s very useful, don’t get me wrong. But not essential – what is the nature of the product? What is the reason for the profile – can it support, or does it need to dominate?
The simplicity of the Switch experience is reinvogorating, and belies the incredibly deep versatility of owning and using a Switch. It also doesn’t slow down the Switch’s potential as an evolving device platform. The work that Nintendo are doing in this area is amazing, with the Switch recently moving into VR gaming territory.