Quick Switch Thoughts

A small miracle happened last week (despite Nintendo's worst efforts): Amazon received a new shipment
M.G. Siegler
Quick Switch Thoughts
By M.G. Siegler • Issue #59
A small miracle happened last week (despite Nintendo’s worst efforts): Amazon received a new shipment of the Switch. And I was able to snag one. It arrived on Monday, so I haven’t had much time with it, but wanted to post some quick first-impressions.
  • The packaging is rather ho-hum. The outer box is fine, but the inner packaging is a very plain cardboard. And a lot of plastic bags. It almost feels prototype-y. It’s just not like unboxing an Apple product. Can’t recall if it was better when I was a kid :)
  • At least it comes with an HDMI cable. Thanks, Nintendo. 
  • The Switch itself is much smaller than I imagined. It’s almost the size of an iPhone 7 Plus, just a bit bigger. But it’s also far bulkier. And yes, feels a lot more plastic-y. It’s not bad, but also not great. Of course, it also costs $300, not $700+.
  • One thing that’s not great: there’s a fan at the top of the device. It’s not loud, but if you put your ear up to it, you can hear it and feel it. Again, not too sexy for hardware in 2017.
  • The instructions to set everything up are on the box. Which is nice, but also took me a few minutes to figure out. Maybe no manuals plus the simple cardboard inside are a way to be more environmentally friendly?
  • Set up itself was easy. There’s a walk-through on-screen which is simple. When you slide the “Joy-Con” controllers into the side of the Switch it makes the “click” sound that Nintendo is using for marketing the Switch. It’s a nice touch. 
  • The game cartridges are ridiculous. They’re memory-card sized but come in a box 10x the size of one. And no manual. Also, how is the Zelda cartridge not gold, like the original NES version? Total missed opportunity. 
  • I actually had no idea you could just download the games from the Switch store on the device. My bad. I would have done that.
  • The kickstand on the back of the Switch (under which you can also insert an expansion memory card) is janky as hell. It’s not sturdy at all. Just feels like a cheap afterthought. 
  • The Joy-Cons themselves are pretty good. I like them when attached to the screen. I haven’t yet tried them with the controller attachment. When used with the game 1-2-Switch, they’re fine. A little buggy, but generally work as promised.
  • 1-2-Switch is pretty lame. Wii Sports wasn’t great, but it was far better. A huge percentage of the games in 1-2-Switch seem far better in concept than in practice. Nintendo clearly wanted a game to showcase the Joy-Cons and the concept of eye-contact gaming. It mostly fails. 
  • But Zelda: Breath of the Wild is fantastic. I’ve only played for like an hour. But it lives up to my own hype (which was massive). It’s a beautiful game that’s intuitive to play.
Well, that was a bit longer than anticipated. But yeah, a lot of thoughts. Overall, so far I’d say Zelda makes the Switch worth it, but I’m worried there won’t be many other titles that will. Mario Kart (coming next month) should be fun. And the next actual Mario game looks great. Beyond that? More thoughts soon.

5ish Links
I linked to this article in my post (500ish, below) about Netflix, but worth highlighting a couple parts by Joe Flint and Shalini Ramachandran:
Netflix is also attracting big-name reality show creators like David Broome of the hit NBC weight-loss show “The Biggest Loser.” In an interview, Mr. Broome said he struck a deal with Netflix that will give it first dibs on all his future creations ahead of other networks, and allow him to sell merchandise world-wide based on his Netflix shows, with the streaming service receiving a cut.
Had not heard about the ROFR (right of first refusal) clause and the merchandizing element of these deals before. But it’s smart. Netflix is getting more aggressive as it grows in power
Some TV executives are trying to turn one of Netflix’s supposed selling points—releasing entire seasons of shows at once for users to binge—into an argument against the company.
“I think a lot of people have now come around to say it’s nice when your show is out there 10 or 13 or, in the case of ‘The Walking Dead,’ 16 weeks. That is cultural currency,” said Joel Stillerman, AMC’s president of programming. Advocates say the “water-cooler effect”—friends chatting about and spreading excitement for a show—can help build its momentum.
I’ve made this argument as well in the past. I can see both sides. But there is no question that Netflix owns this model for releasing things. 
www.wsj.com  •  Share
Nick Wingfield:
Joe Thompson, a former general manager in Amazon’s retail business, sees physical retail as key to Mr. Bezos’s outsize ambitions for the company. “I can’t help but feel that, in Bezos’s mind, he wants to be the first trillion-dollar valuation company,” said Mr. Thompson, who is now an executive at BuildDirect, an online home improvement store. To do that, he said, Amazon would have to “crack” a couple of “completely underpenetrated markets online.”
I, personally, would not bet against Bezos reaching his trillion dollar goal in this regard – new all-time high today, in fact ($421B and counting)… And:
But a group within Amazon has explored another larger grocery store format, according to both a person familiar with the concept and to internal Amazon documents reviewed by The New York Times. The store could stock fresh produce, meats and other items in a public area of the store, while keeping frozen foods, cereals and other items traditionally found in the center of a grocery store behind a wall, in what would be a kind of small Amazon warehouse. Workers behind the wall, not robots, could quickly package orders for customers.
This concept makes sense to me in theory at least. One hold-up with online grocery has been the desire to see (and feel) produce in person. So what if you make a store where you can do that, while everything else is handled behind-the-scenes, literally? 
Speaking of Amazon stores, here’s Laura Stevens on the struggles Amazon has had with its “Go” (cashier-less) concept stores:
The Amazon Go store in the company’s hometown of Seattle uses cameras, sensors and algorithms to watch customers and track what they pick up, according to the people familiar with the matter. But Amazon has run into problems tracking more than about 20 people in the store at one time, as well as the difficulty of keeping tabs on an item if it has been moved from its specific spot on the shelf, according to the people.
For now, the technology generally functions flawlessly only if there are fewer than about 20 customers present, or when their movements are slow, the people familiar with the matter said. After it opens, the store will still need employees for the near future to help ensure the technology is accurately tracking purchases.
20 customers is obviously not going to work. But is there any question that Amazon will be able to solve this?
You know how awesome it is when you can just get out of an Uber and not worry about pulling out your wallet, figuring out tip, etc? That’s going to happen here too. It’s just a matter of time. 
www.wsj.com  •  Share
This is an old one – “old” being 2014 – but The New Yorker tweeted it out recently, so it caught my attention. 
Margaret Talbot caught up with John Green on the eve of the opening of the movie version of his book “The Fault in Our Stars”:
Publishing executives talk about successful books as if they were lightning strikes, but the popularity of “The Fault in Our Stars” was no accident. Nerdfighters, who by then numbered in the millions, were evangelical about it, tucking notes into copies of the book and encouraging readers to join their movement. In fact, “The Fault in Our Stars” reached the No. 1 position on Amazon six months before it was published, when Green announced its title online. Many authors do pre-publication publicity, but Green did extra credit: he signed the entire first printing—a hundred and fifty thousand copies—which took ten weeks and necessitated physical therapy for his shoulder.
I actually somehow had no idea about Green’s massive YouTube following leading up to his writing success. But I love the concept of the multi-pronged/multi-channel approach in our current day and age. To that end:
In a different era, “The Fault in Our Stars” could have been that kind of cultish book. For many young people today, however, reading is not an act of private communion with an author whom they imagine vaguely, if at all, but a prelude to a social experience—following the author on Twitter, meeting other readers, collaborating with them on projects, writing fan fiction. In our connected age, even books have become interactive phenomena.
Again, this is from 2014, but if anything, it seems even more applicable now. (Aside: it’s still ridiculous that we have this preference to read recent articles versus old ones, which may be just as good, if not better…)
Yeah, Michigan was eliminated in the Sweet 16 by Oregon last week – another great game, losing by one with a shot to win it at the buzzer – but to follow up on their incredible run, I wanted to link to this post by Forward Moe Wagner on the team. It’s his first-hand account of what happened when their plane flew off the runway.
Mark and Tyler, thinking quickly, open the emergency doors on both sides of the plane. And man … it’s crazy. I’m pretty much running for my life. We evacuate onto the wing, while the plane is still moving. (Like, with the engine still going and everything.) Then we climb off (only a few feet, without the wheels) — and, as soon as we hit the ground, we straight-up book it. I’m telling you: We’re sprinting as fast as we can, as far away from that plane as we can get.
And then, for the next hour or so, we’re all just sort of … there.
It turns out you can’t simply call an Uber after your plane crashes. So we’re standing around — you know, all 120 of us, on the runway — with this giant plane stalled out on its belly beside us. It’s almost like a beached whale. It’s surreal.
I love this post. It’s not too polished, just raw enough. Has a voice. Another great example of the kind of stuff at which The Players’ Tribune (disclosure: GV investment) excels. Thanks for indulging me :)
Quickish Hits
I don’t 100% agree with this post by Nilay Patel. But I 50% agree :) Yeah, it’s a nice mobile format (for some things), but I do believe it’s one FB wants to succeed as well for their own bottom line…
Wait, so NBC is going to admit it’s 2018 in 2018. Or, as Ben Thompson quips: that it’s 1998 in 2018. How forward-thinking of them after the 2016 💩.
I always, always, always hated these stores. They were like Blockbuster, but worse: they totally ripped kids off with trade-ins. Eventually, they’ll suffer Blockbuster’s fate as well. Good riddance. 
500ish Words
As mentioned above, some broader thoughts about The Squid, Netflix. (With thoughts about Amazon, The Whale, yet to come.)
500ish.com  •  Share
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M.G. Siegler
Links to stories around the internet that M.G. Siegler has thoughts on. Thoughts longer than 140 characters, otherwise he'll tweet them. Thoughts less than 500ish words, otherwise he'll write them.
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