Late yesterday night, an article published by the Wall Street Journal claimed that Nintendo might be looking towards releasing a newer model of the Nintendo Switch as early as summer of next year. According to “suppliers and others with direct knowledge of the plan,” the Kyoto-based company wants to maintain the momentum that seems to have stalled after initial sales blew way past expectations.
On the software front, Nintendo seems well equipped to reach the target of 20 million units by March 2019. With huge titles such as Pokemon Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to anchor the holiday season as well as a stacked upcoming lineup in 2019, there is little reason to worry about software sales. However, it would seem as if Nintendo intends to keep its competitive edge through a refreshed model.
While specific changes have not been stated, the WSJ sources claim that one route the company can take is to improve the display, as “updating the display with these technologies would make it brighter, thinner and more energy-efficient.”
A year and a half into the release of the Nintendo Switch, the massive success of Nintendo’s revolutionary new flagship console seems to harken back to the golden days of the Nintendo DS/Wii combo. From its induction until this past June, the Switch has managed to sell almost 20 million units worldwide, a feat that reflected both the quality of the product as well as the demand for a brand new gaming experience.
Fresh off the avalanche of sales and accolades accrued by the twin towers of Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo went on to have a much quieter year in 2018. The year was marked with hacker problems, below-average reactions to several first-party titles, and a subpar online service that generated much backlash in the gaming community. An improved model might be a way for the company to both get back to its peak form as well as evaluate its priorities going forward.
A refreshed model, while surprising, wouldn’t be all that far-fetched. After the Nintendo DS launched to stratospheric sales, Nintendo rolled out a “Lite” version less than a year and half into its life cycle. Video game console developers usually push out improved or higher spec’d models halfway through their consoles’ lifespans anyways in order to avoid fatigue and stagnation, as well as to appeal to newcomers with renewed interest.
There are a couple of questions that still remain despite Nintendo having successfully shed the dark chapters of its Wii U days. For one, the fate of the increasingly stagnating 3DS system has to be addressed. With the hybrid functions of the Switch, the loyal handheld has been increasingly overshadowed by its younger brother and made redundant by its mobile counterparts.
Once again, any news not verified by Nintendo should be treated like a rumor. However, the WSJ has always been a credible source, so this is huge news nonetheless. Nintendo’s plan going into a promising 2019 should be made clear in the coming months, so only time will tell whether it intends to launch a brand new offensive with an improved version of its much-praised console.