Switch is a transformative product in Nintendo history. The hybrid console prevents the distinction between domestic and portable gaming, giving players the best of both worlds – but it also marks a significant shift from tradition; Prior to its release, Nintendo followed the twin-system strategy of selling home consoles along with dedicated portables such as Game-Boy, GameBoy Advance, DS and 3DS.
Some argue that this change is long overdue; The recently discontinued 3DS sold 75.9 million units worldwide – a huge failure, but this makes Nintendo the weakest-performing dedicated handheld ever released: Game Boy / Game Boy Color (118 million), Game Boy Advance (81.5 million) and Nintendo DS (154.02). Millions). The advent of devices such as smartphones and tablets has definitely changed how people play games on the move and the switch has proven to be the ideal solution to this change – from Nintendo’s perspective, at least.
However, with the switch now more than three years old, questions naturally arise as to what form Nintendo’s next system will take. Some believe that the Switch could enjoy a longer lifespan, and could even become the company version of the iPhone or iPad – an ever-evolving platform that enables users to enjoy regular hardware updates and access their entire game library.
If that happens, the question of what shape Nintendo’s next console will take will be less pressing – but the company is eager to ask if it will ever return to the world of dedicated portable consoles, given the market’s success so far.
For Perrin Kaplan, who spent 16 years as head of marketing at Nintendo in the US – the answer is yes, and the existence of the switch light – the version of the switch that eliminates on-TV drama – proves it.
Are talking Gamesindustry.biz, She says:
There is a market for millions of people who love the portable system of independent games. I’m definitely one of those millions. So, never say never.
Ubisoft’s Shara Hashemi is in agreement and hopes to always have a place in the market for portable devices:
I am always reluctant to give my iPhone to my seven year old mother and my daughter. I have her game in handheld with the games I have chosen in her favor.
Matt Piscatella, executive director for games at data company NPD, agrees that portability is important, but that flexibility is a more important selling point for future console Nintendo releases:
Tech is where the market does not need to disassemble the portable in order to have a viable product. Today’s video game users seem to like flexibility with content engagement, so I hope other solutions will prioritize a unique portable platform. But conditions change.
Joe Bartlett believes that Nintendo’s unpredictable nature means that it’s hard to say whether the company will fall back into the world of handheld gaming with a system that can only be played in portable form.
Part of Nintendo’s magic is not being able to figure out what it’s going to do next, or how it captures the ination of gamers, so who knows what its sleeve will be?
As things stand now, the chances of Nintendo backtracking on the switch concept seem unlikely – the console offers a niche position rather than Microsoft or Sony being interested in challenging it – but there are other ways Nintendo can create an affordable, robust portable game in the same vein as the DS.
We have already seen the company embracing its past with the likes of the NES and SNES classic editions – the Game Boy Classic has been in demand for some time, and – if paired with the digital store – can keep parents entertaining their youngsters at a lower cost.
Want to see Nintendo create another dedicated handheld system beyond the switch? Let us know in the comments.