Nintendo has enjoyed a big resurgence since its Switch console took off last year. Armed with a unique piece of hardware and one of the best year-one game libraries of perhaps any console ever, the company is in the best shape its been in for years. The Switch represents more than just a return to form, though: it feels like a completely new era for Nintendo.
Everything from the technology to the user experience is much savvier than what we’ve seen before. Indeed, today’s report about a future upgraded version of Switch is certainly in line with that sentiment.
Nintendo is supposedly planning on introducing a new version of their already hot-selling hardware next year. Third-parties, who had heard directly from Nintendo about the planned upgrade, believe the hardware could be available as early as Summer, 2019. This souped-up Switch, we’re told, hasn’t yet been properly conceptualized.
Nintendo is still considering how the new hardware will iterate on the current model, balancing them versus the cost of manufacture. Apparently, one initiative might be to improve the display unit, which currently lags behind smartphones with a lower-end LCD. Sadly, OLED screens aren’t being considered –at least not at this stage.
Of course, hardware iterations aren’t necessarily evidence of a new, progressive Nintendo. As far back as the Game Boy, Nintendo has been tweaking and releasing upgraded versions of its handheld systems. It’s been much rarer for the home consoles though.
There are two key takeaways here. First, that Nintendo has observed how both Sony and Microsoft’s have buoyed the staying power of their current systems and is seeking to replicate that success. Secondly, that the Switch has been such a monumental success that Nintendo is looking to consolidate its handheld and home console offering. The emergence of new Switch versions might finally mean waving goodbye to the 3DS for good.
When it comes to iterative console versions, Sony’s PS4 Pro and Microsoft’s Xbox One X might not have lit the world on fire, but they’ve certainly achieved their mandate. Technology has always moved quickly, but its recently accelerated, and mid-gen console refreshes have their place in the market. Of course, the Nintendo Switch, with its limited processing and graphical power, isn’t really calling for an upgrade for the same reasons. But its rival systems have certainly paved the way to acceptance of this marketing strategy. There was a time when we’d scoff at iterative hardware. Things have changed –just look at the mobile market and the constant upgrading.
Whether or not current owners of the system would be tempted by an upgraded unit or not remains to be seen. Certainly for newcomers, paying a premium for a model with a better screen, longer battery life, possibly even faster specs sounds like the perfect time to jump in. We might even see a drop in price for the vanilla version of the system, which would be a bonus. More to the point, a Switch boasting a better screen, battery life, and hopefully processing power would help extend its lifecycle. That’s especially relevant as we expect Sony and Microsoft to announce their next-generation consoles in the next 18 or so months.
Quite honestly, I’m all for a consolidation of Nintendo’s software, anyway. As much as the 3DS has been a boon for the company, and is certainly a great device in its own right, just give me everything on Switch. I understand the 3DS still performs well, especially in Japan, and that handheld gaming is an intricate part of Nintendo’s lineage as a company. The Switch sort of transcends all that, though, doesn’t it? It’s both facets of traditional gaming rolled into one. If Nintendo is embracing modernity, then doubling down on Switch and slowly petering-out the 3DS would speak further to that agenda.
Perhaps the other factor to consider is that Nintendo might offer exclusive content for this potential upgraded Switch. We’ve seen that before –as unsavory and frustrating as it was for fans– with the 3DS. In this case, though, it might be less about first-party content and more to do with trying to improve the performance of popular third-party games on Nintendo hardware.
We’ve already seen that developers are interested in porting games for Switch after its impressive sales. Could this be a way to open the door to more third-party support? You’d have to think that would ruffle the feathers of current Switch owners, but still, it would certainly give the Switch brand longer legs moving forward.
I’m certainly getting the impression that Nintendo understands they’ve got something special with the Switch. They’re being clever and doubling-down on a product they know has a niche, and more importantly, has the approval of its fans. The Switch is capturing new audiences in the same fashion as the Wii, but it’s equally a hardcore gaming machine like the Gamecube and N64 before that.
For that reason, I’m behind this initiative if it does indeed become come to fruition. If nothing else, it would be worth it alone just to experience that Breath of the Wild sequel at a solid frame rate, in more clarity, and for longer play sessions.
You are making that sequel, right Nintendo?