Feature: Upgrade Coming for Nintendo Switch?

By Neil Flynn 08.10.2018 7

Over the course of 2018, multiple gaming outlets have reported rumblings of a new Nintendo Switch model coming to the market soon. What is the likelihood of this and should fans hold off from purchasing a Nintendo Switch? Delve in to find out.

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Nintendo has a long history of half-step iterations with its handheld devices; the Game Boy line received multiple iterations in terms of the Game Boy Colour and Pocket. The Game Boy Advance, which was only on the market for around four years before the Nintendo DS released, also had two revisions in its short lifespan - the Game Boy Advance SP and the Game Boy Micro. The Nintendo DS also had a further two revisions from its base model, the DS Lite and the DSi (including the DSi XL). Furthermore, the Nintendo DS' successor, the Nintendo 3DS, has also seen multiple size and hardware specific revisions, including the 2DS and New Nintendo 3DS models. It appears that with each hardware revision, Nintendo has improved the quality of the screens, such as adding a brighter display or improving upon its portability. Some consoles themselves have exclusive features, whether that's being able to play the games in colour or exclusive titles not available on the base model.

While Nintendo has a long history of revising its handheld line of systems, the same could not be said for its home console market, at least in the West. Each Nintendo home console has had some sort of additional hardware, which has helped boost the base model, whether it's the Famicom's Disk System, the Satellaview, the N64 DD or the Q version of the GameCube. The opposite could be said for the Wii, as the system was actually stripped back of its features, with later models of the Wii not being backwards compatible with the GameCube and with the Wii mini not even having any Internet connectivity. Where, then, does this leave the Nintendo Switch?

Rumours have circulated that the Switch will have a much more powerful CPU, 4K display, and a larger internal hard drive, but could there be any truth to that? Looking backwards, Nintendo often revises its consoles to not only generate further sales but to also improve upon its profit margins - essentially selling the public the same piece of hardware in a new skin that might just improve some aspects of gameplay. Examples of this can be shown with Wii, which is essentially just an overclocked GameCube, or with the New Nintendo 3DS, which essentially didn't do much other than adding on a C-Stick. With that in mind, then, what is likely to come to the Nintendo Switch?

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The Switch will most likely receive a hardware update at some point in its lifecycle, with other console makers taking Apple's approach of half-steps with the Xbox One S, Xbox One X, and PS4 Pro, as prime examples. Here is where things will most likely be improved upon;

Increased Memory Storage - up from its current 32GB model to 64GB, this is likely as memory is becoming cheaper and file sizes are getting much larger. However, don't put it past Nintendo to still short-change its customers by not putting in 128GB or 256GB as standard.

Wireless Headphone Support - there are various speculative reasons why Bluetooth headphone support has not yet been made available, but this is surely a no-brainer going forward, just as long as it's not in lieu of the headphone jack.

A Stronger Kickstand - the current kickstand for tabletop mode is weak, off balance, and somewhat unnerving to use. Surely, a better placed kickstand or a solution that is sturdier would be involved for its successor.

USB-C Port Moved - the current charging port is a little flawed for those who want to play in tabletop mode and charge the unit. A new official accessory has been recently released to help rectify this, though, so it is unlikely Nintendo would offer a solution to this.

Improved Docking - many Switch owners have complained of their units being scratched during the docking process; whether or not these are isolated incidents, Nintendo may look to improve the dock itself or ensure that other measures are in place to make sure this doesn't happen again.

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The following is highly unlikely, as it would push the price of components up, therefore, costing Nintendo more and as a result it would make less money per unit sold. However, these additions would be gladly accepted by Nintendo fans to vastly improve the Switch experience;

1080p Display - if Nintendo is looking to get a better margin, then it is unlikely that an improved display would ever happen. Even if a 1080p display was affordable, it would also need to improve upon its other internal specs to ensure that it could output smoothly. Some have previously speculated that Nintendo will re-enter the VR race and, if so, then a 1080p or a 4K display would be paramount for such a venture. If a 1080p or 4K display was on its way, then expect…

A Larger Power Source - for prolonged battery life, although perhaps only slightly improving on its current 4310 mAh lithium-ion cell. Powering a 720p display on a high-intense game only delivers approximately three-hours of gameplay, so the battery size would most likely need to double in size; furthermore, it would also need…

Improved Ventilation - during the summer of 2018, many Switch owners complained of warped or burned out Nintendo Switch systems, which had overheated while docked. While these are most likely isolated incidents, it would be in the Big N's interest to ensure that no more Switch consoles meet their end due to overheating.

The Nintendo Switch started strong out of the gate, particularly when many analysts had thought otherwise. Growth will undoubtedly slow over the coming years, unless Nintendo addresses some of the Switch's shortcomings, especially with Microsoft already working on a new Xbox and Sony most likely working on the PS5, so a hardware revision will rejuvenate sales. Nintendo just needs to stop ignoring the blind fact that the lack of offline saves or Cloud saves for titles, such as Splatoon 2 and Pokémon Let's Go, will undoubtedly stop people from upgrading. Nonetheless, if history tells one thing, it is that Nintendo is likely to repackage what people already have and sell it to them again.

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Depending on what a revision does end up being like, I would very much consider upgrading. There are plenty of little complaints I have about the current Switch model that I'd love to see addressed, like the lack of a proper d-pad, a lower resolution screen than TV output, and poor battery life.

If these were addressed (or even just some of them), I'd certainly be tempted, because the Switch is a console I can see myself using for years to come since it will be the home I can play some of my all-time favourite games (Breath of the Wild, FF7 and FF9 on the same system, what the heck!?). So in that regard, I'd want to be using a model that will serve me better in the long run.

So far the lack of proper D-pad hasn't bothered me but then I haven't really had much need to use it. I can imagine if more demanding SNES games come then that could be a reason, but I don't want to have pay even more money for 'special' controllers like the ones recently released for the NES games.

The one thing I purposefully didn't really talk about in the article was price, I'd like to think Nintendo would try to shift us a more premium model and reduce the cost of the existing model. If the screen, battery and other issues were fixed then what would you be willing to pay for a new model?

You also bring up a good point, longevity. I sit here looking at my GC, N64, GBA's, DS' and 3DS and thinking that they have all held up well. Although I worry that one day the disc drives on my Wii, Wii U will falter. Personally I think the Switch will die first! It just doesn't feel like it's built to last the test of time!

Generally, the lack of d-pad hasn't caused me too many problems, but it is noticeable in some games like Hollow Knight. The stick just doesn't give me that solid precision feedback when you're quickly trying to move left or right in the air, and then doing a downwards attack. It won't always come out 100% accurate with the stick, and it is fiddly with the directional face buttons because you can't quite get that thumb-rolling precision going. I can cope, but I would jump at the chance to use a proper d-pad (and Nintendo can get stuffed with those expensive NES controllers that only work with NES games, therefore making them useless if you don't have an online sub).

"If the screen, battery and other issues were fixed then what would you be willing to pay for a new model?"
Yes, I would most likely be fine with that, since I'd just sell the original model. I'm sure I could get at least £150 for it, so I probably wouldn't need to pay too much more for the new model.

I dunno, whilst it does have some fiddly bits with the joy-cons connected and whatnot, I can't see it going bust on me unless I'm careless. I don't think any of my Nintendo consoles have died on me (my GC started to output disc read errors, but probably need its laser cleaning), so I don't expect that to start now with the Switch.

I'd love an update that lets me use old Wii Motion Plus controllers, Balance Board, etc, with Switch. It'd just be so handy as I've got stacks on bits and bobs. I don't see why it'd be hard, since Wii U allowed for it.

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Well, I've yet to get around to Hollow Knight but I definitely would have preferred a better D-pad for Sonic Mania, and playing The King Of Fighters is quite annoying on both the Joy-con and Pro Controller. I could imagine that playing any precision platformer like Mega Man or Celeste would be a pain in the arse!

If I could transfer save data to an SD card then I'd be quite happy to pay around another £100 - £150 to upgrade to a better model, I didn't really have a problem with doing it on the other Nintendo handhelds so I think i'd have the same approach here as well!

Adam - to your point, I think that they just want to leave the Wii moniker behind, their whole ethos with the Wii U was this very point, I remember Reggie pushing the fact that all this old equipment will still work with the Wii U but that is probably what helped confuse the fan base. Either way I bet Nintendo are making bank right now by selling additional joy-con which are extraordinarily expensive for gaming controllers! 

Gah, of course - totally forgot about my fighting games. That's where an entire genre is at odds ends on Switch, unfortunately. Thankfully, I use an adapter to use my PS4 pad on the Switch, but for handheld mode, I can kiss any hope of decent fighting action goodbye with no proper d-pad.

I'll have to pay for an online sub once FFCC comes out (which could be around the time this supposed new model comes out), so I won't have an issue with data transfer there. But definitely, the total inability to backup saves locally without a sub is ridiculous.

And yeah, I think Nintendo is purposely not trying to confuse matters any further by just forgetting the Wii stuff entirely now. Probably a good idea to just get rid of all your bits and bobs now, unless you plan on still using the Wii/Wii U in the future.

( Edited 09.10.2018 23:18 by Azuardo )

I am a bit worried for my joy-con joystick when Smash comes out. I felt like my 3DS one took a battering after the 3DS version. But I don't have many fighting games for my Switch. I guess I could use the Pokken Tournament controller but as you say that doesn't help for handheld mode.

It's even more ridiculous that even with cloud saves that certain games don't support it! I don't understand why things can't be tracked without people being able to manipulate the system. 

I love how my crossplay on my XB1 talks with my PC and carries the save where ever I am or how I choose to play! 

As for old Wiimotes and old games, I never sell on my stuff any more, I only end up regretting it and buying it back again!

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