Nintendo’s rumored plans to produce a revised Nintendo Switch model picked up steam on Thursday with a tantalizing bit of new information. Last year’s rumor mill simply predicted a new model could arrive in 2019, but a Japanese report has narrowed fans’ expectations based on its sources’ intel: Nintendo may have a new SKU with portability and price, not power, in mind. (And the news outlet uncovered one other possible “service” to come as well.)
The report from official stock exchange news outlet Nikkei.com (helpfully translated by Nintendo Everything) cites a combination of hardware partners and game developers who all suggest the next Switch model will be “miniaturized.” The resulting system will reportedly emphasize “portability” and “playing outside,” and it will “cut features” to bring the retail price down.
Nikkei’s report does not include more specifics, which still leaves plenty of questions about this rumored SKU. If we add up the details offered by Nikkei, though, we can guess that one of its cut features might be the removal of a bundled Switch TV Dock; this product can currently be purchased separately at an MSRP of $ 89.99. Cutting that combination of chipset, plastic mold, and increased box size and weight would be the easiest way to reduce the system’s current $ 299.99 MSRP.
Nintendo could also nix support for the dock altogether, but that would only make sense if an updated, shrunken motherboard was no longer compatible with the “overclock” applied to the system when running at a higher pixel resolution in TV mode.
Aesthetically, we could expect a smaller screen size and reduced bezels. If the form factor is shrunken in a way that makes existing Joy-Con controllers no longer fit, Nintendo’s solution may very well be to bolt the controls into the system—though that would break compatibility with certain existing Switch games, particularly last year’s Super Mario Party.
Such a console revision would line up with two glaring pockmarks on Nintendo’s otherwise excellent holiday 2018 financial report: a failure to reach that lofty “20 million Switches sold in fiscal 2018” goal, and a serious dive in Nintendo 3DS hardware and software sales. A new portable-focused Nintendo Switch, which reduces the cost of entry and is marketed as a durable, kid-friendly system, could get Nintendo back into parents’ good sales graces and knock out two birds with one Switch-shaped stone. (The current Nintendo Switch model is handsome and lovely to use in portable mode, but I’ve yet to meet a parent who doesn’t armor up the delicate system in a case and a screen protector before handing it to a clumsy child.)
This report says nothing about the existing SKU, and we imagine a bundled option with a larger screen and TV dock will continue being offered alongside any shrunken revision—just as Nintendo has done with multiple-sized versions of its DS and 3DS systems. However, this report seems to disabuse power-hungry Nintendo fans of any dreams that a Switch-Plus, with a bump to a beefier Nvidia Tegra SoC, might launch in the near future.
And one more thing…
The report also includes an incredibly brief mention of a possible new version of the paid Nintendo Switch Online service. Nikkei says, quite simply, that a “new [online] service” could launch “sometime in 2019” with a focus on “game enthusiasts.” Nikkei does not attempt to guess at this service’s exact nature, nor whether it will cost more. (Nintendo Everything’s translation guessed that this service would come at a higher cost, but other reporters dispute that translation.)
The easiest guess about what’s to come: more classic Nintendo games. We’ve already seen notes inside of the Switch’s NES files that refer to a wide variety of Super Nintendo games from first- and third-parties, and Nintendo may simply be waiting for a certain point in 2019 to announce these and renew interest in the Switch’s anemic selection of classic games.
[Update, 5:55 p.m. ET: In response to our questions, Nintendo sent a brief statement: “We have nothing to announce on this topic.”]