Is Nintendo Digging Its Own Grave With Their Policy On 4K UHD Gaming?

by on July 11, 2017

Juan Carlos Ropel, July 11, 2017

Even though the Nintendo Switch has only been in the market for a few months and remains sold out in many stores, there are those who have started to speculate if Nintendo will soon go after a ‘renewal’ strategy involving new technologies like 4K and HDR, as Sony did with the PS4 Pro or Microsoft with the Xbox One X and Xbox One S consoles.

However, it seems the answer is no, or at least we won’t be seeing a Nintendo Switch with 4K capabilities any time soon because the Japanese company thinks it’s not the right moment to bring Nintendo to the world of 4K UHD graphics. According to the Nintendo president in North America, Reggie Fils-Aime, there is still a limited market for 4K content consumption, even though its competitors, Microsoft and Sony, have already put their bets on UHG gaming and associated HDR technologies.

Reggie Fils-Aime explains this decision:

“The Nintendo mission is to reach as many consumers as possible and to have them engage and have fun with our [intellectual property]. That’s what we try and do. So inherently, we go for a more mainstream audience. Inherently, we want our products to be affordable. We want our products to be easy to pick up and experience, low learning curve. We want our IP to shine as we deliver these experiences.

That’s the way we approach it. And so, what that means is, a sweet spot of $300 for the Nintendo Switch, a platform that has Mario and Zelda and Splatoon. Going against a more limited consumer pool, a higher price point, requiring investments in other ways — 4K TVs, what have you — that is a strategy that for us, candidly, is a bit too limited.”

This is not an exceptionally surprising stand for Nintendo. First of all, most of Nintendo’s games do not even work in native full HD, although they show this resolution on Nintendo Switch with scaling. Secondly, Nintendo has done well in the past when the original version of Wii didn’t support HD resolution while the Xbox 360 and the PS3 did, and the Wii even lead over PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in worldwide sales.

But maybe this sort of conservative posture is reaching its limits at this point, and it’s no longer a good idea for Nintendo to play timid on the latest and increasingly widespread gaming graphics technologies. As we’ve seen repeatedly, the world-wide numbers for sales of 4k HDR TVs have continuously grown year over year, and Nintendo Switch is currently selling at a higher price than the PlayStation 4 Slim and the Xbox One S, even though both consoles offer technical specifications and graphics performance metrics that are far more generous than anything from Nintendo.


People are basically getting more hardware chops from Xbox and Play Station at a lower cost and this will have an impact on consumer choice, particularly in markets where 4K TV penetration increases quickly. These benefits of Nintendo’s competitor consoles even apply to owners of non-4K TVs, since both the Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 Pro, and the upcoming Xbox One X in particular deliver many non-4K graphics benefits to the games a user plays with them on almost any kind of TV. These are dangerous tendencies for Nintendo’s competitive chances.

So as much as we would love to play Zelda in full 4k UHD graphics on an OLED 4K HDR TV, we’ll have to wait a while longer before the company gets with the program. Meanwhile, only time will tell if this was the right call for Nintendo.

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