Earlier this week, rumors had surfaced from a report by The Wall Street Journal that Nintendo may be working on an updated version of the Nintendo Switch. While it’s simply speculation at this point (as there has been no official confirmation by Nintendo just yet), the potential of new Switch hardware shouldn’t be surprising to Nintendo fans, or any video game fans for that matter, as Nintendo has regularly released hardware variations for its mobile devices since the days of the Game Boy. I mean seriously: if you haven’t bought every Nintendo handheld twice, are you even a Nintendo fan?
The idea of Nintendo doing a revised version of the Switch isn’t the most unlikely thing that could happen. Mat Piscatella, a video games industry analyst at The NPD Group, summed up this sentiment in a tweet this week:
Today, water is wet, the sun will rise tomorrow, we’ll have new versions of popular sports games next year and console hardware revisions may be in the works. All of these are just normal things.
— Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) October 4, 2018
Seeing as a mid-generation Switch upgrade was probably inevitable, the only questions that these rumors have raised are exactly which features of the system will be upgraded. While The Wall Street Journal‘s claims say that the new version of the Switch will be “brighter, thinner and more energy-efficient,” a lot is left to the imagination.
Since we won’t have answers for the foreseeable future, here is a list of possible things that I hope we can see with the next Nintendo Switch iteration, in order of likelihood.
If I was in Vegas, I would bet my whole billfold on this option. The “Plain Jane Upgrade” takes the idea of a new Switch at its most literal, meaning that the first Switch upgrade would just be a thinner version of the Switch with a slightly better, possibly 1080p screen, and more internal memory right out of the box.
If the Switch was the Nintendo DS, the Plain Jane Upgrade would be the DS Lite. This upgrade would add a few simple quality-of-life improvements, make the console slimmer and more fashionable, and ultimately provide the same gaming experience as the original Switch. Intended to boost sales, the Plain Jane Upgrade would be bundled with an older Switch game (possibly 1-2 Switch or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe) and marketed towards those that are interested in the Switch but haven’t made the plunge. The Plain Jane Upgrade I could see debuting at a slightly higher price (or take the Switch’s $299 MSRP), while the original Switch model could either get a price drop or be discontinued entirely.
Time to stock up on some Olde English and Colt .45 — it may be time to pour one out for the 3DS family. Yes, despite the fact that Nintendo has continued to support the 3DS (including a surprising remaster of the original Luigi’s Mansion), the Switch Micro would change that in a New York minute.
If I could picture it in my head, the Switch Micro would be a 3/4-scale replica of the original Switch that would operate only in handheld mode, and not feature a Switch Dock. Attempting to court handheld gamers that don’t care for open-world romps and glitzy, bleeding-edge graphics, the Switch Micro would advertise its library of less technically-demanding games, while still offering more expansive, complicated titles at a decreased resolution from playing on the bigscreen. For all intents and purposes, the Switch Micro would be the proper successor to the PlayStation Vita that’s currently missing-in-action in the video game marketplace.
Switch Home would be the ontological opposite of Switch Micro; the Joker to Switch Micro’s Batman, the Ying to Switch Micro’s Yang. While Switch Micro would predominately be aimed at folks looking to continue their Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem fixes, the Switch Home would potentially focus on beefing up the Switch’s innards with a GPU-strengthened Dock.
Dedicated to offering an experience that rivals the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Switch Home could take high-end Switch games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey and polish their edges. Seeing as the original Switch already has problems porting some current-generation (and even last-gen) games, Switch Home would allow developers to continue porting games to Switch for years to come. Of course, these ports would ultimately carry a label stating “Switch Home Required,” and would be unplayable in handheld or tabletop mode.
In this way, Switch Home would be similar to the New Nintendo 3DS, meaning that original Switch systems would be unable to play select Switch Home titles.
A “Switch Ultimate” being the first Switch upgrade is a long-shot — the equivalent of the 2018 Chicago Bears winning the Super Bowl. Essentially the offspring of Switch Home and the Plain Jane Upgrade, Switch Ultimate would be a larger version of the original Switch, offering 1080p OLED graphics in handheld mode and a juicy GPU-powered dock. Of course, revamped electronics under the hood would allow Switch Ultimate to natively handle its own online infrastructure without a hitch (or, for that matter, a seemingly useless smartphone app). In addition to being a having its own slew of Switch Ultimate exclusive games, Switch Ultimate will be able to perfectly reproduce high-end original Switch titles in handheld mode. Debuting for $400, Switch Ultimate will be the go-to option for Nintendo fans and graphics geeks alike.
Well, there you have it, folks. These are my predictions that will undoubtedly be proven false and embarrass me in the coming years. While my money is currently on the Plain Jane Upgrade, anything is possible, and it’ll be exciting to see what Nintendo comes up with next.