A reader tries to predict what Nintendo might do if they create a new version of the Switch, from a handheld only edition to a Switch Pro.
The Nintendo Switch launched in March 2017, over 21 months ago, and most assume that a hardware revision is inevitable, and, imminent. The PlayStation 4s hardware revisions came some 34 and 36 months later, with the slim and Pro versions respectfully. Similarly, the Xbox One revisions saw the S version release 31 months after the original console, and the X version 36 months later.
These figures suggest that expecting a revision of the Switch hardware in 2019 is premature. However, while Nintendos home consoles usually only receive a hardware revision very late in life, if at all, their handheld revisions are a different story. The original 3DS released in March 2011, with the XL version appearing 16 months later, the 2DS was 30 months later, the New 3DS and New 3DS XL came 47 months after, and the New 2DS rounded things off in July 2017, some 80 months after the launch of the original version.
So, in the realm of Nintendo handhelds, there is a sensible foundation on which to base an expectation of a revised Switch in 2019. But, is the Switch truly a handheld console? More importantly, do Nintendo primarily see it as one? Unfortunately, my uncle no longer works at Nintendo, so I cant provide answers to such questions. Nevertheless, lets consider the possible hardware changes to an upgraded Switch console.
Option 1: Switch Pro – Same size/shape, but higher resolution screen, faster CPU, etc.
The main limitation that Nintendo face with the Switch is the Joy-Cons, specifically the size and shape. If you make the tablet bigger, then the original Joy-Cons will no longer fit, but adding more processing power, perhaps even making the tablet borderless, would be seen as an upgrade. Being able to improve handheld resolution to that when its docked would be a nice bonus.
However, is there much incentive for Nintendo to do this? The release of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X did not result in most current console owners upgrading. It confuses consumers and both Sony and Microsoft had to promise that all games released in the future would run on the original hardware, which I would see Nintendo committing to as well. Overall, I dont think theres much of a financial incentive for Nintendo to make a Switch Pro anytime soon.
Option 2: Switch XL – Increase in size of both the tablet and Joy-Cons. Same innards.
One of the common complaints Ive witnessed from those playing a Switch is the size of the Joy-Cons. For many, theyre just too small. Again, theres a lot of owners that dislike the size of the screen. This revision would result in there being two types of Joy-Cons: the current size and XL versions. Of course, the XL Joy-Cons would only fit the XL tablet, but importantly, when being used wirelessly they would work with either type of Switch. Crucially, this wouldnt result in a divided player base; the older hardware can continue to be sold alongside it and for these reasons is a more plausible hardware revision.
Option 3: Dock-less/Downgraded Switch.
Everyone seems sure that the Switch will get upgraded, but what if Nintendo actually downgrade the console? They removed the 3D from the 3DS to make it the 2DS, for example. The most obvious step to take with the Switch would be to sell it without the dock, as a purely handheld device. This would see a lower price point for consumers and begin to occupy the 3DS market – something that would surely be good for Nintendo.
Of course, if you dont have a dock then what does the Switch switch between? Theres also the option to make the Joy-Cons immovable, which would further keep costs down as there would be no need for Bluetooth, IR, etc., but that seems to go against the social gaming aspect of the Switch that Nintendo seem keen to promote. That being said, parents might feel more comfortable buying a child version of the Switch, as described above.
Knowing Nintendo, theyll do something completely different, and Im a fool for even trying to predict them. Therere obviously more than three options for Nintendo to take, but these appear to be the most realistic right now. Although, with the Switch still selling incredibly well, why even change the hardware so soon? Most would agree that they should focus on sorting out their online practices before anything else, and Im inclined to agree.
By reader Matt
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