The gaming wars of the next generation have begun in earnest as Google’s foray into the world of video games has now served as a run-up to news of new offerings from console heavy hitters Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Nintendo has long been the option for quirky, niche, and youth-skewing gaming, so its consoles have prized unique gameplay and convenience over raw processing power or online prowess. Now the company looks to be positioning its products to cater to either side of the gaming community.
According to The Wall Street Journal, this year Nintendo plans to release two versions of its best-selling Switch — possibly as early as this summer — that would change up the console for specific kinds of gamers.
The first version would be an enhanced, beefed-up version to play games at higher qualities (though without specs to compete with the PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X). The second would be a cheaper, more handheld-oriented version that would be for those looking for the ultimate casual experience — or to replace their decade-old 3DS.
However, making these comparisons too closely would be inaccurate, per WSJ's report. “You would be wrong to think the enhanced version is similar to what Sony did with PS4 Pro and the other is just a cheap alternative that looks very similar to some past hand-held machines — say, Sony’s PlayStation Vita,” the paper quotes a source with hands-on experience.
Instead, there would be more small-scale changes to cut costs, like eliminating vibrating controllers. “The company judged the new Switch models won’t need the vibration feature because there wouldn’t be many games released using the full benefit of it,” one official reportedly said.
Nintendo had long dominated the mobile market until smartphone gaming took a huge chunk of the industry. Maintaining sales momentum of their hit Switch by targeting different customers is the goal of the release, which will sustain the console’s third year. The Switch has been a big hit for the company, with great console sales and first-party games to drive it — with Mario, Zelda, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. offerings that have stunned critics and fans alike — so capitalizing on this mid-lifecycle update is key to keeping the momentum alive.
With new Pokemon, Fire Emblem, and Animal Crossing games on the way, fans are already excited for the future of Nintendo, so the new consoles’ likely announcement at E3 in June will only bolster their fandom.