The Nintendo Labo. This thing was just announced this week, and it’s essentially a software back, combined with pre-made cardboard panels, which allow kids to build things like robots, houses, steering wheels, RC cars, a piano, and other things. These “Toy Cons” (as Nintendo has dubbed them) can then be connected to the Switch, and used via the accompanying software. There will be two kits available, starting on April 20, 2018: The Variety Kit and The Robot Kit, for $70.00 (£59.99 in the UK) and $80.00 (£69.99 in the UK) respectively. Then, they want to sell you a small sheet of stickers to decorate these things, and charge $10.00 (£8.99 in the UK) per sheet.
Ok, Nintendo…SERIOUSLY? CARDBOARD AND STICKERS????
Allow me a moment to see if I can wrap my head around this concept. Nintendo…one of the biggest gaming companies on the planet wants to sell you and your kids software and cardboard – let me repeat that: CARDBOARD – so that your young ones can put together pre-formed stuff that incorporates into very specific games on the Nintendo Switch.
This, in my opinion, is just plain dumb.
I mean, I love video games as much as anyone. I really do. And some of the motion-controlled stuff in the Labo seems pretty neat. That being said, there are a few points of contention here for me. First, this is still just cardboard, and these are still kids. Any parent knows how much of a mess their kids can make, and you just know that these pre-formed patterns (Toy Cons) are going to fall apart, get wet, get crushed, or get otherwise mangled somehow. It’s basically inevitable. Second (and I may sound like an ornery old fogey here), didn’t we all ALREADY create stuff out of cardboard when we were kids??? I may sound like an old fart here, but it was called:
I’m not going to start going on and on about how using one’s imagination as a kid is integral to brain development (spoiler alert: IT IS). I can see where stuff like the Nintendo Labo would engage kids’ imaginations to an extent, and that’s fine. But seriously, folks, your kids could probably get WAY more mileage out of you teaching them some of the ways that you and I used to engage our brains when we were their age.
And parents, let’s look at this from a financial point of view, as we all know that raising kids is an expensive adventure. Are you really going to shell out what could amount to $140.00 for these, just to watch your kids play with them for a short amount of time, then destroy the cardboard, only to have them pitch a fit until you replace it? As I mentioned above, durability is the issue here. Do we really think that Nintendo hasn’t taken that into account, and is using that notion to basically print money by having extra kits in the wings for when this inevitably happens? I doubt it.
Take it from me, someone who has been gaming for several decades: Wait and see what happens with the first run of these before rushing out and buying them for your young ones. I can almost guarantee that there will be some sort of backlash due to the fact that Nintendo is selling your kids what amounts to a housecat’s fort.
And to you, Nintendo, I have one thing to say:
I can understand you wanting to be innovative and different. The Labo is in interesting business move; and honestly, is probably going to be pretty lucrative for you in the short term. That being said, please know that many of the consumers who buy your products really do want more from you. New, fresh characters, fresh IPs & franchises, and more games that excite and intrigue us. We want to be wowed with great graphics, amazing stories, and worlds that take us away to somewhere fantastical.
We don’t want cardboard.