Does the Switch really need a redesign?

The Nintendo Switch is still a relatively “new” system. This March will mark a full two years since it hit the market, which isn’t that much for a console. Even so, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen the idea of a hardware redesign being thrown around. Even just recently, two analysts claimed that they believe Nintendo will be rolling out new Switch models this year. Between all the theories and rumors, I’m left wondering: Do we really need a new Switch at this point in time?

Console redesigns aren’t uncommon. In fact, most systems tend to receive one (or even a handful) throughout their lifetime. This generation hasn’t been that much different, though all three companies did take a big gamble by introducing fully upgraded versions of each of their consoles (New 3DS, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X). Nintendo also famously gave us the 2DS, which was technically a downgrade.

Thus, the idea of a “Switch Lite” (a handheld-only model) or “Switch Pro” (a home console-only model) isn’t that far off at all. But the predictions that keep getting thrown around don’t really click with me.

What makes the Switch, well, the Switch is its ability to transform from a home console to a portable in moments. It’s designed to be a versatile system that appeals to any gamer. If Nintendo were to turn it into either a handheld-only or home console-only model, it would render the whole messaging behind that name null and void.

Of course, either route would also create a divide in the user-base in terms of the quality of the gameplay experience, but that’s already happening on the other aforementioned platforms anyway. Still, the Switch’s unique nature is not something that I think should be tampered with.

One could argue that the 2DS already proves otherwise; it totally undermined the 3DS’ whole shtick of possessing the technologically advanced no-glasses 3D effect. Hence the reason why Nintendo even went through the trouble of rebranding it with the name “2DS.”

At the time, this was such a massive surprise that the gaming community was understandably shocked. Some even thought it was an out-of-season April Fools’ joke. Yet, the original 2DS went on to become a bit of a hot seller due to its low price. Not only that, but Nintendo went ahead and launched an upgraded model in 2017 — the New 2DS XL. This ended up taking over Nintendo’s marketing material for the whole 3DS family, despite it still being technically inferior. Indeed, this whole situation was convoluted. Yet it somehow all worked out anyhow. Could the same really happen with the Switch? I doubt it.

No need to backtrack…

If Nintendo released either a handheld-only or home console-only version of the Switch, that would basically have made all the R&D that went into making a fully hybrid system completely pointless. Nintendo and Nvidia definitely put some hard work into creating the Switch, so I don’t see why either party would see any value in undermining that. Rather, one would hope that they’re currently trying to figure out how to push this concept further for the next generation. As I said a few weeks back in my article about what the 2018 iPad Pro means for the Switch, mobile technology is progressing quite significantly. Thus, now’s a better time than ever for a concept like the Switch to exist. The only direction to go in is up.

For those of you that want a handheld-only Switch, all I can ask is —”Why?” The system is already smaller than an iPad/tablet, and those are considered some of the most portable devices out there. So, I don’t see the benefit at all of having something smaller. As for a home console-only model with added power, this is an easier pill to swallow.

Multiplatform games that have been brought to the Switch are often downgraded significantly, so having more power would definitely be better. Yet, still, that would be a regression in terms of uniqueness. Besides, with mobile technology getting better, we may very well see a time sooner rather than later where a tablet-like device such as the Switch can truly go toe-to-toe with the likes of a machine such as the Xbox One X.

Move forward!

Having said all that, I’m not against Nintendo making some adjustments/improvements to the Switch as we know it. The console has suffered from some minor design flaws like the placement of the USB-C port, shoddy quality of the kickstand and Joy-Con latches, and the fragile screen. If these areas could be built upon with a minor redesign in the vein of the DSi, PS4 Slim, and similar revisions, that would be great. But as for an entirely new take on the system, that’ll be a no from me. Should that ever happen, Nintendo would be better off making another dedicated handheld and/or home console entirely.

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.