Nintendo distributor Core Group has prepared for a big push in South Africa, with the new Switch console leading the charge despite a shaky few years in the country after retailers backed away from the console market.

Many gamers now download straight from the internet and there are fewer physical games on cartridge or DVD purchased across the world. However, South Africa provides a huge opportunity and an enthusiastic market, according to the distributors of Nintendo's new Switch console, which launches in the country in two weeks time.

While there are fewer video game retailers and fewer brick-and-mortar store franchises that keep regular stock of boxed copies of games, Core Group board member RJ van Spaandonk told MyBroadband that there is still a huge market in the republic. The console launches in South Africa on March 3 in line withn its worldwide launch.

He explained most South Africans do not have easy access to enhanced broadband and fibre optic and would rather buy a physical copy of a game. Van Spaandonk said their retail channels used to include stores such as Game, Dion Wired, Incredible Connection, and Makro, in addition to specialised video game retailers.

Many of these retailers have scaled back or dropped boxed video games from their shelves and Van Spaandonk argues that many South African retailers made poor choices on which games to stock, resulting in poor sales, which eventually led to decisions being taken to reduce a store’s exposure to video games.

For their big launch of the Nintendo Switch in South Africa, Van Spaandonk said they partnered with Takealot and BT Games – as they were able to confirm stock and commit to pre-order campaigns.

However, Core is in discussions with other retailers. “Anyone who wants to sell the Nintendo Switch will be able to.”

The Switch is set to launch in South Africa on 3 March 2017. Takealot’s pre-order price for the console is R5,199 ($397).

Wordwide Ninetendo believes sales will be on par with the Wii, which sold more than 100 million units. and the clever console will offer Nintendo Switch Online Service, which lets owners play online multiplayer and access a dedicated smartphone app that lets you connect with friends.

It will be preceded by a free trial that should launch alongside the Nintendo Switch in March.

"You’ll be able to play compatible co-op and competitive games online by signing in with your Nintendo Account," reads a Nintendo statement.

"Online play will be free for Nintendo Account holders until the paid online service launches in fall 2017. After the free-trial period, most games will require a paid online service subscription from Nintendo in order to play online."

Subscribers will also get access to a original console NES or SNES games from the Virtual Console... but only for a month.

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