One platform, two console lines. Is this the future of Nintendo?
Despite the upcoming launch of the New 2DS XL, and Nintendo’s commitment to keeping the 3DS line running for at least another two years or so, the rumors are flying about what could potentially be the successor to the DS line (and Nintendo’s handheld line all together).
If the rumors turn out to be true, Nintendo is prepping for a portable variant of the Nintendo Switch to launch in 2019 (possibly even 2018). It would be handheld only, smaller, more durable, and designed for the market the Switch currently has a hard time reaching: kids.
Right now the Switch is an expensive, breakable piece of amazing technology. It’s selection of games is limited, but will soon grow. As of now it’s not the ideal console for kids. A Nintendo Switch Mini could change that. But doing this would mean that Nintendo will essentially be making games for one platform.
Development cost is also a big factor. Handheld consoles have always been cheaper and easier for developers. It’s an easier market. Less intensive graphics, easier gameplay design because of the portable nature of the console, and a focus on reaching one of the larger markets for portables: children. If the Switch continues to be what Nintendo says it is, a home console, that means close to AAA-quality games. Third party developers looking to make smaller games might have a unique transition to the Switch.
The Game Boy Advance has a massive gaming library of epic proportions. The reason? Low development cost, and easy development compared to (at the time) the Game Cube, PS2, and Xbox. The handheld market has always been a unique opportunity for smaller studios. If the Switch is not a true handheld.. then what will Nintendo do? Release a new portable console?
It can be assumed with high confidence that the DS line will be over once production ends on the 3DS and 2DS. There likely won’t be a “4DS”. It’s possible that Nintendo could resurrect the Game Boy, but with virtual console releases of iconic classics from the GBA and GBC lineup already coming to 3DS and likely the Switch, who knows if that will happen.
A Switch Mini on the other hand could mean one platform, with two different console lines and two different focuses. It would be unprecedented, and something we haven’t really seen before. Nintendo has never played by the book and followed their competitors, so who knows what they will do. They own the handheld market, despite the ever growing mobile market from phones and tablets starting to take a high percentage away from the older handhelds.
Nintendo has plenty of options going forward, and much of those options ride on the success (or failures) of the Switch. Even with Nintendo getting into the mobile market themselves, it’s clear the handheld market isn’t dead yet. Pokemon Sun and Moon are evidence of that, with sales numbers no one expected coming off the Pokemon Go high.
For a company that once looked to be in deep trouble, Nintendo is being reborn. We’ll have to wait and see where this rebirth takes them.