Does the Nintendo Switch Truly Need Multimedia Apps?

After two weeks on the market, a lot of good news has come out of the Switch’s launch, such as its impressive sales. Yet, there are some who have some complaints about the system. One fault that I see keep being brought up is that the Switch lacks multimedia apps like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube and a proper Internet browser. Although a lot of people seem disgruntled over this, I really have to wonder—are those necessary features?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having options. Imagine if you walked into an ice cream store and they only served vanilla? What if a clothing store only carried one design? What if a paint store only had one color? Yes, in all these instances it’s definitely a negative that only one option is being offered, but that isn’t exactly the same case with the Switch.

Nintendo has emphasized on multiple occasions that the Switch was built with the gaming  experience in mind first. After all, it is a game system. What Nintendo is basically saying is that multimedia applications aren’t currently available on the Switch because they’re not part of the core experience. Think about your car for a second. The main purpose of a car is to drive you from point A to point B. A lot of cars these days come decked out with cool features like Bluetooth audio, rear-view cameras, and heated seats. These are all nice add-ons, but that’s just what they are — add-ons.

A car doesn’t need any of those special features to fulfill its core purpose: drive. All it needs is an engine, wheels, and a solid body. Likewise, the Switch doesn’t need to have apps like Netflix or Hulu; those can also basically be considered to be add-ons. It’s nice to have a variety, like what I brought up in the first paragraph, but in this case it’s not a necessity.

Your car only needs wheels, an engine and a strong body.
Likewise, your Switch only needs a steady stream of good games. 

What really baffles me about this whole debate is that not only does the Switch not need these apps, but doesn’t the average person already own multiple devices that already have this functionality? Phones, tablets, computers, smart TVs — you name it. The average person these days has at least two of the aforementioned gadgets which are capable of accessing services like Netflix and are definitely capable of surfing the Web. In fact, look at this way: if you’re mad about the Switch not even having a browser, just realize that since you’re clearly reading these very words on this webpage, you’re already doing what you’re complaining about not being able to do on the Switch.

My point is that the Switch would just be another drop in an already vast ocean of gadgets if it had a proper browser and services like Netflix. This isn’t the 90s where getting Internet access was still considered to be something “amazing”; it’s now 2017, where even fridges can access the Internet.

But even with all that said, what makes me facepalm the most about this ‘problem’ is that it really isn’t the end of the world. Ever heard of something called a firmware update?

Like every other modern device, the Switch can and will receive updates in the future to add functionality. 

The Switch is basically an infant at this point. But unlike early consoles, it’s not restricted to remaining in its current form for the rest of its life. The PS3 and 360 were the first to prove that consoles could be built over time. Compare the features of those systems at launch to now: the difference is like night and day. That has continued with the PS4 and Xbox One. Nintendo’s own 3DS and Wii U have also benefited from getting updates over the years. Likewise, the Switch will also benefit from this modern-day feature.

Nintendo hasn’t said that the Switch would never get multimedia apps or an Internet Browser; these things were simply not necessary to the core experience. The company’s priority goal was to build a system that’s great for developers and customers to enjoy games on. Those other features will be added in the future. If you’re currently a Switch owner, ask yourself: “Am I missing anything from not having more multimedia options?”

It’s definitely a nice convenience to have those added features, but there’s no use in harping over it. At the end of the day, even if those features were available right now, chances are you’d be spending most of your time playing games anyway.

For now, just enjoy the games.

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.