There's no denying the Nintendo Switch has been an unqualified success. By the end of 201
But Nintendo , seemingly, not about to let that momentum drift away. Gathering rumors of not one but two models of the switch models being unveiled at E3 in June – one a slight upgrade for avid gamers, the other a cheaper, more portable option – having got fans and investors hot under the collar.
Now, you might think that adding new models to the range when the original console is from old and selling well is an odd business strategy. However, the move makes sense, but in order to see how, the key factor here is that Nintendo's two releases will most likely aim at entirely different groups of users.
Let’s take the consoles in turn, starting with the more powerful version. This upgrade will almost certainly not be up to the graphical power of the Xbox One or PS4. Instead, the most likely improvements are the improved screen and better battery, though Nintendo may also update the CPU, as it did with the New 3DS. But the two most important changes the company needs make an upgrade to the screen and the addition of an ethernet port.
Pelham Smithers, MD of market research firm Pelham Smithers Associates which specializes in Japanese manufacturing, has been expecting the announcement of an upgraded Switch since last December. Though Stadia is probably too far from mainstream adoption on Nintendo's radar, the ethernet port upgrade is essential for UK and UK consumers, says Smithers, if, as he expects, Nintendo aims to make its titles available for server-side gaming.
In Japan, you can already stream Resident Evil 7 and Assassins Creed Odyssey on the Switch as server-side games. This is only possible, however, because of Japan's high average Wi-Fi speeds. For this reason, Nintendo needs to include an ethernet port.
The second priority for Nintendo will be to upgrade the Switch's screen to improve its VR experience. As has been widely reported since the release of Labo VR, the Switch's 200dpi, LCD screen looks ugly and inch from your face. A 400dpi OLED screen would go some way to resolving this issue. "I view VR as potentially Nintendo's pot of gold for gaming, because if you think about it the dream of any kid would be to play in a virtual reality Zelda or Mario. So VR gaming is absolutely an aim for Nintendo, ”says Smithers.
But what about the cheaper model? Serkan Toto, CEO and founder of Kantan Games, believes that the believes that this "Lite" version can integrate the Joycon controllers into the device, and save production costs by removing the HD rumble feature and reducing screen size. He suggests that Nintendo may incorporate a clamshell design to make the device more child-friendly.
This device will fulfil an entirely different role in the market: it should be seen as an upgrade on the 3DS. “The major goal for Nintendo is to offset the sinking 3DS sales. The 3DS is dead: there are no major games announced, the last big Direct was the first without a 3DS mention, and the next Pokémon is Switch-only. ”This is particularly important in Japan, where portability is key, and a fundamental reason why the switch has been such a success. “Japan has always been a handheld country. Even though mobile is now king in Japan, portability is a critical factor behind why Switch succeeded over here. Even the Vita has sold almost six million units in this country – while bombing everywhere else, ”says Toto. The phenomenal success of Tetris 99 in Japan probably also influenced Nintendo's thinking: the cheaper model may be an attempt to maximize the game's success.
Switch on the market by the end of 2019. Again, this isn't new ground for Nintendo: the 2DS, 2DS XL and 3DS XL have all been well – even if the myriad of options is a bit confusing. Smithers is effusive about the move. He says cannibalisation of sales is highly unlikely. The original DS, for instance, was not wildly successful on launch. It took the DS Lite, released six months later, to really kickstart sales. The console eventually went on to sell 154 million units. “It's worth remembering that we've been here before with Nintendo: that the launch version is not necessarily the breakthrough machine. It may well be that these releases will catapult the Switch into the same level of success we have used to from Nintendo ten years ago. ”
More great stories from WIRED
– How to petition to revoke Article 50 went viral
– I tried to keep my baby secret from Facebook and Google
– Care about online privacy? Then change your phone number