Though we don't necessarily think it, the majority of us are 'competitive' gamers. Whether through online games in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Smash Bros. on Wii U and 3DS, or the litany of online sports games shooters, score chasers etc across multiple platforms, we play games with others and try to 'win'. Some competitive games can be silly 2D arena fighters with a twist, like Starwhal, while others are 'serious' games that make their mark in eSports. Smash Bros. has a strong competitive scene from Nintendo's perspective, though beyond that a number of the money-making games in the professional competitive space are focused on other hardware, the likes of Call of Duty, Street Fighter V and a whole range of PC-only titles.
Nintendo, though, is still keen on promoting itself as a player in competitive gaming, albeit in the past few years it's done so without seemingly investing a significant amount of money. Efforts to push Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Splatoon and Pokkén Tournament in recent times were perhaps hindered by the relative struggles of the system on which they lived. With Switch, however, eSports has been on the agenda from the start, serving as the concluding showcase of the system's potential in last October's teaser trailer.
Now, Nintendo mentions a summer of 'social competitive gaming' in its recent E3 2017 press release. The games leading the charge this time are Splatoon 2 and, prior to that, ARMS. The latter, in particular, seems like an unconventional competitive game due to its waggle-intense gameplay, but in hosting tournaments for both titles at E3 Nintendo is evidently eager to make the case for both titles making an impact on competitive multiplayer.
As for online play, Nintendo is yet to kick its Switch 'online services' and related app into gear, which will apparently support voice chat but also lobbies and features to help players come together. Even so, what we're seeing is the big N shifting towards a more accessible style of competitive gaming, by throwing the 'social' into its phrase. What's unique about the Switch, of course, is the portability and the ease with which it can slot into any dock for TV play. As the LAN mode in MK8 Deluxe shows (which we also saw in the original Splatoon on Wii U, eventually) Nintendo is providing tools for gamers and even organisations to easily set up tournaments. Set up some monitors, docks and LAN adapters and you're good to go, with the unique extra that people can 'in theory' play using their own Switch. Quite how using our own Switch units would jive in a 'competitive' setting is up for debate, but it's most definitely social.
We've gone along to a handful of community-led competitive gaming events over the years, often with Smash Bros. being the only Nintendo game in sight. If Switch and its key releases can change that and bring Nintendo into the game, then that's just one other way for the console to establish itself and win new fans.
But are you interested in this idea of 'social competitive gaming'? Do you think Nintendo's truly serious about taking that buzz-phrase and turning it into a success? Let us know in the polls and comments below.