A reader examines Nintendo’s previous consoles and explains why he doesn’t think they’ll ever make a more powerful version of the Switch.
There’s been much speculation recently regarding the much rumoured ‘Switch Pro’, especially in light of the recently announced Switch Lite.
I don’t see it happening and looking back at some of Nintendo’s history I think there are a lot of arguments to support this.
The Switch is sold and marketed on its unrivalled first party games and its versatility. People enjoy it at home or on the go for the great games and not for the zillion terra-floppy-giga-tiddly bits it can produce. A Switch is built for fun, not power.
It’s already a vastly underpowered machine and is practically a generation behind when compared to the PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X. This will be highlighted even further with the release of the PlayStation 5 and Project Scarlett next year. Any upgrades Nintendo could implement to the system, while maintaining backward compatible software, would be so negligible compared to its peers it would just not be worth it.
Nintendo has always been good at pushing their hardware to the limits without the need for unnecessary incremental upgrades (here’s looking at you 32X). Look at past exclusives that came in late to their consoles lifespan, such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong Country, Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Zelda: Twilight Princes, and Super Mario Galaxy 2. Continuing this trend and maintaining the quality of the games utilising the existing hardware mitigates the need for a ‘pro’ console.
Nintendo is not one to dilute their brand. Previous upgrades such as the Nintendo PlayStation (anyone remember that?!), Famicom disk system, and the 64DD were all touted and never made it to the US or Europe as Nintendo wanted to avoid confusing customers with multiple SKUs. And let’s not forget Nintendo’s recent misstep and the confusion surrounding the Wii U launch, with many consumers viewing it as just an updated Wii. Even though there is a big difference between a new platform and a revised one Nintendo would not want to hurt the brand by risking similar misunderstandings among customers.
It’s already been announced that the Switch hardware is being revised this year with improved battery life. A good move by Nintendo to improve what I believe to be an already great system, enticing new players without aliening existing users who feel they need to purchase the latest and greatest version.
In spite of the above though I believe a year or so from now there will be a new version of the Switch. Let’s call it a Non-Switch Switch (I’m still working on the name). Historically, Nintendo have released smaller, cheaper revisions of their hardware in their twilight years. The US had the NES-101 and SNES-101, with the Game Boy Pocket, Wii Mini, and DS Lite all making it worldwide.
It doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume that in a couple of years, when the processer and component cost has dropped, that Nintendo could strip the screen, battery, Joy-Con rails, and dock from the system, slashing the production cost of the Switch massively. If they could hit the magic $100 mark (which I believe is possible) they could compete with the recent influx of ‘mini’ consoles and appeal to the masses of causal gamers and families – the ‘lite’ users who might want to experience their games on the big screen and those that have been holding out but want to play the Nintendo exclusives.
Of course this is all speculation on my part, and I can’t see Nintendo cannibalising the strong sales of the existing Switch anytime soon, but given Nintendo’s history I feel it would be unwise to bet against it either.
By reader Huw
The reader’s feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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