Rumours of new Switch hardware have been circulating since last year, with reports suggesting that Nintendo is looking to maintain the amazing sales momentum of its hybrid system with a new, more powerful ‘Pro’ model.
However, according to Japanese news outlet Nikkei, the company could be taking the opposite approach in 2019. It is being reported that Nintendo is already in the advance stages of creating a smaller, cheaper and more portable Switch SKU which will launch early this year.
According to Nikkei, Nintendo has already informed publishers and suppliers that the new console is incoming, and that it will be accompanied by an online subscription service aimed at hardware gamers who are willing to “pay more” for their digital content. Nintendo already operates its Switch Online Service, which grants access to online gameplay, cloud saves and a small selection of free NES games each month, but it hasn’t challenged Sony and Microsoft’s more generous (and expensive) offerings as yet.
Back onto the hardware side of things, the report says that elements of the current Switch built will be removed in order to make the new system sleeker and cheaper. While it hasn’t been revealed what’s being cut, a solid guess would be the ability to dock the machine to play on the television. By removing this function, the cost could be reduced dramatically and it would tie-in with the enhanced portable focus of the newer model.
Nintendo has a track record when it comes to this kind of thing; it released multiple iterations of its Game Boy handheld, and also changed the design of the Nintendo DS and 3DS several times. The Nintendo 2DS – a child-friendly version of Nintendo previous handheld system – is perhaps going to be the closest match we have to this new Switch.
While Switch continues to sell in great numbers – it just had its best quarter ever, in fact – its high price puts it out of reach for younger players. A cheaper and perhaps more robust version would make it an easier purchase for parents looking to upgrade their kid’s ageing 3DS consoles.
As for when this new Switch model will release, ‘early 2019’ is what Nikkei is reporting. Given that the next Pokemon RPG arrives later this year, the timing arguably couldn’t be better, and Nintendo has previously announced entirely new hardware SKUs in shock reveals, so we could well see this new Switch sooner rather than later.