Double Take: Are the Nintendo Switch Hardware Issues a Big Deal?

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The Nintendo Switch has been on the market for a month now. While sales have been encouraging across the board, a lot of users have reported various hardware issues. It only took a few days after launch for reports of controller disconnections, consoles freezing and screens scratching to roll in. While chatter around those issues have seemed to calm down, there’s now a new vice: bending consoles. This has sent the ‘Switch Doom Crew’ into another spiral about how Nintendo “rushed” the production of the system. Is all this hullabaloo really worth it, though?

When there was a lot of discussion about the aforementioned launch issues, I addressed them in a different article. Now that the levels of criticism against Nintendo and the new system have risen again thanks to ‘#BendGate’ (which a certain other popular device also had to deal with), I feel it’s necessary to bring one point into focus yet again: all systems have issues early on. In fact, it’s not just new systems that have issues, it’s new technology in general. Whether it be phones, tablets, computers, appliances, TVs—it doesn’t matter. One unavoidable evil that affects every single gadget big and small is defective/flawed units at launch. With that said, I don’t really understand why people are getting bent out of shape over what’s happening with the Switch.

If you look at news stories from the launch of pretty much any system retro or modern, you’re going to find that there were a few unfortunate folks who got stuck with defective units. It’s not their fault: it’s simply a part of the manufacturing process. When new devices go into mass production for the first time, it’s all about creating as many units as possible in order to fill the high levels of demand. Combine that with the fact that factories are just getting introduced to assembling these devices, and you have yourself a simple situation: quantity over quality. Sure, they could meticulously put together each unit with 1,000 inspections throughout the process, but that’s going to take a very long time. There’s usually no bigger sales period than the launch, and that goes for basically anything: devices, movies, TV shows—you name it.

People get giddy over getting/seeing the ‘next big thing’. That’s why it’s become common for folks to wait outside a store or theatre for hours or even days before the launch of a new product. This is all due to a phenomenon called ‘FOMO’ — ‘Fear of Missing Out’. People love to be the first to obtain/experience something new. It gives them bragging rights and a sense of pride (as shallow as it may seem). With that being the case, companies want to get their new products out to as many as people as possible: they want to strike while the iron is blazing hot.

There’s usually no bigger time for a product than its launch. As a result, quantity is put before quality.

What we’re seeing with the Switch is absolutely nothing new, and should pretty much be expected at this point. If you want to be an early adopter, then you need to go in with the mindset that you’ll be the one to have the highest chance of experiencing the worst of the issues. We don’t have an exact failure rate for the Switch, but it doesn’t look to be anywhere near the levels of what was seen with the 360 during its beginning period: aka – the RROD era.

For instance, the PS4 and Xbox One also had issues at launch. Some Xbox One launch units refused to read discs, among other issues. On the other side of the fence, the some PS4 launch units had a problem where they didn’t send out an HDMI signal to TVs despite being powered on. This just goes to show you that when it comes to launches, problems of all sorts can and will occur.

In any case, neither the Switch, PS4 or Xbox One had it nearly as bad as the 360 did with the RROD fiasco. Some people ended up buying two or more 360s due to that problem. In fact, the 360 had a massive failure rate of 54.2%! As it relates to the Switch, there have been no reports of hundreds-of-thousands of people returning defective units. When you take into consideration that there are currently over 2 million units out there, a few hundred, or even just a few thousand bad apples is not that big of a deal. Now if out of that 2 million, 1 million units were defective—then yes, that would be a very big problem! But, thankfully, that’s not the reality at all.

If you’ve run into a problem with your Switch, that’s unfortunate. But you know what? There’s this little thing called “warranty”. You know why every product has it? Because stuff happens. Humans are imperfect, therefore every single one of our creations are imperfect by nature. There’s no such thing as a truly indestructible and infallible human creation. So, stop making a mountain out of a molehill. Whether it’s you or a friend who’s experiencing issues with their system, all one has to do is  go straight to Nintendo and request a repair. Complaining about it online doesn’t fix the issues. And with that said, all of these issues will likely go away in a pretty short space of time as the console matures.

Which is worse — a few dozen flawed systems or over 50% totally breaking?

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.