A Switch From Regret to Acceptance
by Christopher David Lawton
I woke up this morning to the pangs of regret. It’s become a bit of a normal practice, for better or worse, to check Twitter when I wake up to make sure the world didn’t end while I was sleeping. This morning, however, my feed wasn’t filled with the typical politics I expect to see, but with pictures and posts from people buying their Nintendo Switches. You see, I had a Nintendo Switch. I preordered it overnight after the big press announcement, and up until about ten days ago, I had been preparing for my new toy to arrive in the mail sometime this first week of March. About ten days ago, however, something changed. After a few days of deep thought and consideration, I ultimately decided to cancel my preorder. After it was done, I breathed a sigh of relief, convinced I was making the right decision. This morning, though, I woke up, read Twitter, and experienced regret for the first time since I canceled my preorder. I’ve been spending some time this morning trying to figure out why.
First, my reasons for canceling my preorder still seem spot-on. The launch lineup is still weak to today, aside from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And rumors swirled a couple of weeks ago about games that had previously been announced no longer being launch titles. Additionally, other features, like the Virtual Console, which should have been available out of the box, were not going to be present. While I had no doubt in my mind that Breath of the Wild would be a fantastic game, I knew that, really, that would be the only thing I play on the system until at least late April, when Mario Kart VIII is released. $300 is just too much to spend on what is essentially a single game. In addition to this, I currently have a huge backlog of games to play, and even throwing on one single game — especially a game as large as Breath of the Wild — felt like a bad call. I felt that way then, and I still feel that way. Looking back, if I had to do it over again, I doubt I would have made a different decision.
Why, then, do I regret canceling my preorder?
Even after thinking about it all morning, I’m still not sure I have a definitive answer to that question. I only have a series of unorganized thoughts as to why I may be feeling this way. For starters, I think a part of me feels a sense of obligation to Nintendo. I am a soldier in the Nintendo army from a long-time back, and while I haven’t always bought Nintendo systems on launch day, I have historically at least done everything I could to support them. I don’t think this is the reason, though. Despite my love for Nintendo, I have fallen away from this fanboyism, for lack of a better word, over the past few years. I didn’t even buy a Wii-U, despite the system having a few games that I wanted to play. I didn’t dislike the Wii-U by any means, I just didn’t feel compelled to buy one. I don’t believe it’s any sense of obligation to Nintendo that is causing my regret.
I do think I have a slight desire to be part of the crowd, which may be feeding that regret. There’s always a sense of excitement and camaraderie that surrounds a console launch, and by canceling my preorder, I essentially pulled myself out of all that. Like Icarus, I flew close to the sun, and my wings of wax melted, sending me plummeting into the sea with a splash. Perhaps a bit overdramatic, but I tend to be overdramatic when video games are concerned. It’s one of my things. I think this may be closer to the correct answer, since so much of my regret seems to stem from pictures on my Twitter feed showing excited gamers getting their hands on the system. I’m still not entirely sure that this is the only reason, though. I see people on my Twitter feed all of the time posting new games they’ve bought. I’ve seen countless images of Horizon: Zero Dawn across all of my social media feeds this week, and I don’t experience any of the same regret that I haven’t bought or played that game yet, despite it being one of the main reasons I bought a PS4. Again, I have plenty of games to play right now, so if a few games slip under my radar for a few months until I have time to play them, that’s just better on my sanity and pocketbook.
Lastly, I think it may have something to do with my desire to write about video games. I’m not in a place where I can write about video games full-time yet, and that’s a bit disappointing for me. I thought I would be at this point in my life, so there’s probably a hair of regret that this is not the case. Perhaps the countless images on my Twitter feed are serving as kind of a reminder of that, since buying games on day one is what you do when your job is writing about them. Of course, this is all compounded by the reminder of that huge backlog of games, since really, my backlog stems from the fact that I am fairly busy in my week. I work a 40-hour-a-week job, I own a house that I am still working on, and I am trying to finish a book of essays. While I do spend some time during the week playing video games, it’s still pretty limited. This wouldn’t be the case, of course, if I wrote about video games for a living. Playing video games would, naturally, be a part of my job. The more I think about it, the more I believe that this is really the source of most of the regret — a desire to be some place other than where I am right now.
Or, maybe, it’s all three?
I suppose the reason for my regret is less important than how I deal with it. And, on this point, I’m still working it out. Reminding myself of truth is a big part of it. $300 IS a lot of money to play a single game. I DO have a huge backlog of video games to finish. My life IS really busy right now, and I don’t have a lot of time to play through video games, and I don’t need more video games that I won’t play at the moment. All of these reasons are very, very valid in my decision to cancel my pre-order. Remembering all of this is a good, good thing. Looking toward the future is a good thing, as well. I know that this regret is short-lived. I’ll probably experience it a few times over the next week or so, as much of Breath of the Wild hits the Internet. But, after that? I remember after the Wii-fever died down, most thinkpieces on the Internet talked about how the console was just gathering dust while waiting for the next big Nintendo release. Will the Switch fall into that same trap? I doubt it. They do seem to have some good third-party support. But, here now, at launch, it’s hard to see any stability in the future. Nintendo has burned a lot of their goodwill with me with the last two systems, and giving them the benefit of the doubt is really, really hard. I’m sure, somewhere down the line, after some major titles are released, I will buy the Switch, and I’ll play the games. I think, until that happens, though, I will be okay with my decision to cancel my preorder. Maybe. I don’t know.
Now, I feel like I need to close out this post with a disclaimer and possibly an apology. I feel like I may seem like I’m coming down on people who did preorder the system, or those who waited in line to get the system today. That’s not the case. I’m sorry if I’m giving a holier-than-thou impression with this piece, that is not my intent. I made the decision that was right for me, and I’ve written this to remind myself of the reasons why I made that decision, and hopefully process through the weird regret that I’m feeling today. If you bought a Switch, I wish you the best of luck. If nothing else, Nintendo consoles are always fun. I’m sure you will have a blast with the system.
Just, maybe, don’t post Breath of the Wild spoilers, okay? Some of us haven’t had a chance to play it yet.