On October 8, Nintendo will debut a new $350 Switch, the first major hardware upgrade to the console originally introduced in 2017 for $299. Available in time for holiday season sales, the new Switch will feature a larger 7-inch OLED screen and 64GB of onboard storage, double the original, as well as improved audio and an adjustable stand and dock. What consumers will not find, however, is an upgrade to a 4K display, a highly anticipated feature that would match the console offerings from Microsoft and Sony.
Bloomberg reports that, as a result, Nintendo shares dropped as much as 1.1 percent in Tokyo trading. Bloomberg Intelligence analysts noted that, “Nintendo’s updated Switch console with an OLED display won’t catalyze as strong sales as the rumored Switch Pro device, in our view, given it maintains the same graphical fidelity as the original Switch.”
They added that, “a Switch Pro with 4K graphics may have to wait until fiscal 2023 alongside the expected release of the sequel to ‘Zelda Breath of the Wild’ and other key games.”
In late 2019, Nintendo unveiled a mobile-only Switch Lite for $199, and “the COVID-19 pandemic combined with runaway hit ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ supercharged demand throughout 2020.” Switch devices have sold 85 million units globally as of March 31, and “Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said in May that the Switch’s sales momentum is unprecedented in the company’s 131-year history.”
The biggest challenge now is “to ensure it has adequate inventory,” especially in light of “global semiconductor shortages.”
Engadget explains that, for months, “reports claimed a ‘Switch Pro’ would also deliver some sort of 4K upscaling capability and faster performance.” Instead, without the 4K capability, this new Switch is “a minor step forward that fixes a few of the Switch’s original design flaws, but doesn’t dramatically change the system.”
“That’s fine,” it adds. “Let Sony and Microsoft duke it out for 4K dominance — Nintendo can show there’s still plenty to love about games in 1080p and below.” By sticking with the same hardware, “developers don’t have to worry about splitting the Switch user base, an issue that’s plagued Nintendo systems over the last few decades.”
The latest Switch “uses a custom version of Nvidia’s Tegra X1 system-on-a-chip, which was quietly updated in 2019 to increase the console’s battery life.”
The OLED model “still seems like an enticing upgrade … the larger screen makes the system look more modern, with less of a chunky display bezel.” It will also make it easier for gamers to play outside in direct sunlight. “And if you’re really into online multiplayer, you’ll likely appreciate the Ethernet port built into the OLED Switch’s dock,” it adds.
Engadget hints that gamers shouldn’t “be surprised if the company ends up dropping the 4K-capable Switch during the 2022 holiday season.”
Nintendo’s OLED Switch Isn’t for You, and That’s Fine, CNET, 7/7/21
Must-Play Nintendo Switch Games Are Almost Half Off, The Verge, 7/6/21