Nintendo may launch a handheld-only version of its Switch hardware in 2019 to eventually replace the 3DS, analysts predict.
We've reported on the possibility of a Switch Mini or Switch Lite for a while now, and this isn't the first time key analysts have made these calls. Back in 2017, Citigroup analysts said the Japanese games titan could release a cheaper kid-friendly version of the Switch to help the 3DS' end-of-life transition. While nothing's been confirmed, Nintendo appears to be doing something with the Switch. Back in October, sources told The Wall Street Journal that a newer Switch refresh would roll out in 2019, possibly with an enhanced screen.
Now more analysts are echoing previous forecasts of a handheld-only Switch. The Switch Mini or Switch Lite wouldn't feature a dock and would effectively break the main selling point of the Switch, all in favor of re-capturing the potential lucrative handheld market. In a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, two prominent figures both support the possibility: Dr. Serkan Toto, whose Japan-centered Kantan Games keeps a close watch on Japanese gaming, and Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter.
"While the 2019 Switch Pro has been already reported to be in development by the Wall Street Journal, I also think Nintendo will offer a "Switch Lite" (or just keep the current version at a lower price) to cover the lower-end of the spectrum and offset sinking 3DS sales," Kantan Games analyst Dr. Serkan Toto said.
Pachter's forecasts are more crystallized. The analyst believes Nintendo could release a handheld-only Switch for $199, effectively shaving off $100 the original system's retail price.
"Nintendo will launch a fully handheld version of the Switch at $199," Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.
"I expect the device to have the same screen, but with Joy Cons built into the body and no docking station. Since it can't "switch" from handheld to console, it's hard to guess what they will call it."
There's a lot to unpack here, but there's also a lot of reasons Nintendo could go the other way and focus Switch upgrades on console gaming instead of handheld. We'll be going over those reasons in a different article, but a lot of it has to do with the SCD add-on box, game-streaming on the Switch, and the company's current merger of handheld/console dev teams.