There's been lots of mixed signals on a new Switch model, and Nintendo of course doesn't clear anything up.
We've been hearing about a Switch Mini for a while now. Reports say system will replace the flagging 3DS as a lower-cost entry point to the Switch ecosystem, playing all Switch games and even dock for TV play. The trade-off? Fused JoyCons that don't detach, a smaller form factor with possibly a smaller screen, and no included dock. Specs should be the same. A Chinese retailer also put up some mock-up cases for the Switch Mini, igniting further speculation. There's also rumblings of a beefier next-gen Switch model that could get some upgrades, or a slightly revised Switch variant with a new OLED panel. Then key sources told Bloomberg that the next-gen Switch isn't happening after all. So what gives?
Nintendo didn't reveal any new info (and won't until the device is actually ready) but we did get a few teasers from the recent shareholders Q&A event in Japan. Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa says the company is always making new hardware (most of which is never actually released) and he won't discuss any details because it'd ruin the surprise.
"We cannot comment in regards to speculation and rumors about new hardware or software. It would spoil the surprise for consumers and is against the interests of our shareholders, so we are withholding any discussion. We are constantly developing new hardware and new software. We'll let you know as soon as anything is ready to be announced," he said.
Surprises huh? Like a new Switch Mini for $199?
This seems to clash with Mr. Furukawa's previous assurances that Nintendo hasn't yet planned out a new Switch model or thought about price cuts to the existing version.
Basically Nintendo is indeed experimenting with all sorts of things Switch-related, including new hardware (and even new controllers, but more on that later) but most of it won't ever be released. Such is the nature of games and hardware R&D. We'd love to see all the stuff sitting on Nintendo's cutting room floor.
Right now Nintendo is focused on what it's been doing quite well: selling Switch hardware and software. The console made $9.9 billion for Nintendo in 2018, making up 86% of its total revenues for the year, and the system also climbed to 37.74 total shipments across the globe.
We may not see a new Switch variant until 2020 or beyond when hardware sales start to dip alongside the arrival of Sony's and Microsoft's respective next-gen systems. Nintendo will be eyeing the charts very, very closely and has even bought up a bunch of Macronix chips to help fill out its production lines.