Depending on what you want out of it, the Switch could get pricey.
The Nintendo Switch may be launching at $300 on its own, but anyone buying the console now should think about the additional costs that come with taking full advantage of it.
Let’s start with spare controllers. The Switch is unique in that some multiplayer games will be playable with one of the two Joy-Cons that the console comes with, so if you’re just going to play games like 1-2-Switch, you should be okay. But if you and your second player prefer using full controllers, or if you’ll be hosting four-player sessions, you’ll need extra Joy-Cons, and they aren’t cheap. A set of Joy-Cons costs $80, or $50 each. And keep in mind, each controller has different functionality, so they aren’t interchangeable. So if local multiplayer is important to you, or if you accidentally lose or step on one of the tiny Joy-Cons, you’ll be adding at least $50 to the price tag.
That’s only if you like the feel of using the Joy-Cons alone or in their standard grip though. For people who like gaming for a few hours at a time, it sounds like getting a $70 Pro controller will be the way to go. For comparison, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers retail for $60 each, and often they can be found for less. In other words, a Pro controller comes in at a $10 to $20 premium over the competition, which sounds excessive even considering that a Pro controller has HD rumble and built-in amiibo functionality. But if you are fine without a Pro controller, you still might want to upgrade from the standard grip, because it can’t charge the Joy-Cons you attach to it. For a Charging Grip, you’ll be dropping another $30.
Okay, so now you’ve got your controllers, and you want to download some games. Hopefully you don’t want to download that many games at once, because the console’s internal hard drive is only 32GB (less when you factor in the operating system, which will take a few gigs of space itself). A digital copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will take up 13.4GB, about half of the available hard drive space. Some games, like Dragon Quest Heroes, won’t even fit without extra memory! In an age where your competitors’ hard drives are at least 500GB, having about one-fifteenth of that feels antiquated in that Nintendo kind of way. But, there are two ways around this: one, buy physical copies when possible; or two, buy additional memory. While the Switch supports microSDXC memory cards, and microSDXC is recommended, the format is backwards compatible, so microSD or microSDHC cards will work. Depending on the size of the card you want, the prices start around $10, so it’s not a huge expense. But keep the minuscule size in mind; it might be better to get a larger card that’s more expensive than having several smaller cards that could easily get lost.
Now you’re thinking about where in the house you want to put the console base. If you’ve just got one TV, you’re all set. If you’ve got a second TV that you’d like to hook your console up to, and you were thinking about buying another dock, prepare to drop another $90. Nintendo has been playing up the flexibility and portability of the Switch, but that comes with a price. Additionally, if you’re the type who needs a solid connection for online gaming, you might want to consider the wired LAN internet adapter, another $30.
Putting that all together, let’s consider a real-world scenario. Let’s say you live in either a house or a multi-bedroom apartment with roommates, a significant other, and/or children. So you want a Pro controller ($70) for single-player gaming, a second set of Joy-Cons ($80) for multiplayer, and a second docking station ($90). You don’t need the internet adapter because you’re skeptical of Nintendo’s competitive online offerings, but you do download more games than you buy physically, so you spring for a decent microSD card ($40). That $300 console you bought is suddenly $58o before you’ve even added any games!
Last year, we speculated that a $300 price point for the Switch would be the limit before seeming overpriced relative to the PS4 and Xbox One. Nintendo obviously met that for the console itself, but despite the cool technology in the accessories, people should be aware of their added costs.